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“The team was recently visible advising on a number of pharmaceutical cases. Sources agree that the team is “moving in the right direction” and are particularly impressed by its work in the pharmaceutical sector”.

 

When E-Declarations Of Civil Servants Will Be Verified?

04.04.2017

Galyna Melnyk, lawyer at Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm
Source: UNIAN

Being launched in 2016 the e-declaration campaign continues to develop in 2017. Comparing to the last year, when about 130 thousands of declarants occupying high-profile public positions (Peoples Deputies, President, judges, prosecutors etc.) submitted their electronic reports, the number of declarants shall significantly increase in this and the following years. The thing is that starting from 2017 in addition to the abovementioned officials the persons authorized to perform the state or local governance functions shall be obliged to provide e-declarations (in other words all civil servants, chiefs of public enterprises, deputies of local councils etc.).

Some estimates show that the number of declarants is close to a million. This means an enormous amount of data that should be verified by the officers of the corruption prevention agency (National Agency for Prevention of Corruption (NAPC)). Currently there are no required technical facilities (including automatic data exchange between different data bases and registers), as well as the detailed legal coordination mechanism between NAPC and other public authorities holding the information about declatants. Therefore, despite some initial efforts to develop the system of automatic verification, the declarations should mainly be verified by hand (to include the submission of requests to different agencies), which significantly hampers the whole verification process.

Current legal regulations do not provide any precise terms for the verification. There is just a general statement in the Law “On Corruption Prevention” that the complete verification of declaration should be conducted within the term of civil servants’ staying in office, and within the three years upon the termination of their functions. Please be aware that the complete automatic verification is obligatory only for highly sensitive categories of public officials, and for other declarants – only in case of the exposed errors in their provided declarations.

Therefore, while the official occupies his/her position and within the three years following his/her dismissal, NAPC is liable to verify any of the submitted declarations.

The detailed procedures for declarations’ verification currently exist only in the form of the draft law published on NAPC website (previously the Ministry of Justice has already rejected the registration of the document elaborated by NAPC). It is notable that the Ministry’s of Justice comments on the absence of precise term and duration of verifications formed one of the grounds for the rejection of the previous draft version. Currently, NAPC and the Ministry of Justice actively discuss this issue. The latest draft version provided by NAPC to the Ministry of Justice offers to establish a term of 180 days for verification conduct with possible extension to another 180 days, and with the possibility to terminate the verification for an indefinite period. According to the Ministry’s of Justice official position published on its website on January 19, 2017, such vague terms infringe the declarants’ rights.

Generally, it is assumed that the utmost verification of declarations shall be undertaken upon the registration of the abovementioned procedure by the Ministry of Justice – in other words after NAPC and the Ministry reach a consensus, inter alia, regarding the terms for verification.

Similarly to the Law “On Corruption Prevention”, the elaborated by NAPC verification procedures for e-declarations contain the wide list of basis for complete verification of the declared data. In particular, such basis include the information from any individual or legal entities, media publications, “information from other sources”, – given that such information indicated the specific declarant and contains details that could be verified. Thus, the wide timeframe for verification conduct and the potential opportunities for verification of any public officer over media publication or private report to NAPC should inspire the declarants, willing to sleep peacefully, to reflect in their declarations “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.

At the same time, currently there is no officially approved schedule for declarants’ verification. Although, NAPC has already reported that the first declarations to be verified will be the declarations of Peoples Deputies, prosecutors and judges. It cannot be ruled out that the selective demonstrational verifications of certain public officers will be carried out for political reasons.

Pursuant to legal regulations, the verification of e-declarations pursues two main goals: to force and to punish. The first goal involves the detection of facts of failure to submit the declaration or the provision of inaccurate information, forcing the civil servants to declare the real information in compliance with the Law and to conduct other actions (for example, related to the conflict of interest settlement). The second goal is to initiate the prosecution procedures against the officials who failed to submit their declarations or whose e-declarations verification detected the conflict of interest, unjustified enrichment, or the provision of inaccurate information.

In addition, there is an implicit goal of e-declaration – to detect the declarants’ failure to adhere to the tax and currency legislation. Thus, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine reports that it is going to initiate the tax examination of Peoples Deputies aimed at the verification of their funds legitimacy and appropriate tax payment with regard to revenues and property reflected in e-declarations.

 
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