On March 24, the non-governmental organization “Transparency International Georgia” (TIG) published a report based on the results of monitoring the declarations of 346 officials in 2022 by the Public Service Bureau, according to which every second declaration (181-52%) was filled with violations. According to the Bureau’s decision, 136 officials (39%) were fined, and 45 (13%) were warned.
High number of violations
In 2022, members of the Parliament of Georgia submitted the highest proportion of declarations containing violations (83%). This marks a significant decline from the previous year, when 42% of MPs’ declarations were assessed negatively. After parliamentarians, the officials with the highest rate of violations were heads of state-owned enterprises and non-commercial organizations (67%) and municipal officials (55%). Of the 27 declarations from officials in classified positions that were audited in 2022, 11 (41%) were found to be in breach.
The majority of declarations assessed negatively in 2022 contained multiple types of infringements by the public officials. “For example, more than half of the officials (53%) have three or more types of violations simultaneously, which means that a considerable part of the information provided in the declarations is not accurate and/or complete. This, in its turn, reduces the effectiveness of asset declarations as an anti-corruption mechanism.”
In 2022, the most common category of violations found in declarations was related to family members, with 78% of declarants failing to declare or incorrectly declaring information about their family members’ income, movable and immovable property, bank accounts, contracts, and material benefits received from them.
“In addition to being a direct violation of the law, the widespread concealment/non-disclosure or incomplete submission of information by public officials when submitting the declarations hinders the meaningful implementation of external monitoring by civil society and the media.” – says the report.
Not a single submission to the Prosecutor’s Office in 2022
According to the report, “in 2022 – for the first time – not a single declaration was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office as a result of the CSB’s monitoring of declarations”. The report states that in the course of six years of monitoring, a total of 11 declarations were sent to the Prosecutor’s Office, “while the list of alleged cases of incompatibility of duties, conflict of interests and corruption, including unlawful enrichment, identified by local NGOs and journalists is growing year by year”.
In light of the shortcomings revealed in the public officials’ declarations, “Transparency International-Georgia” issued recommendations:
- The circle of declarants should be expanded to include prosecutors at all levels, anti-corruption investigators and advisors to state/political office holders;
- The list of information to be provided as part of the declaration should be updated. For example, remunerated activities prior to the appointment of a person to an office and after his or her dismissal should be made public;
- When monitoring of asset declarations, the Civil Service Bureau should strengthen the component of identifying incompatibility of duties and corruption offenses and fully publish information on identified violations.
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