(Apr. 26, 2013) In May 2013, Georgian senior government officials working in all branches of government will submit their public financial disclosure reports and asset declarations to the country’s Civil Service Bureau (CSB) for the 15th time. (Law of Georgia on the Conflict of Interests and Corruption in Public Service [hereinafter Law on Conflict of Interests], Oct. 17, 1997,Saqartvelos Parlamentis Utskebani [Official Gazette] 1997, No. 6612, English translation, CSB website.) CSB is an independent executive branch agency that promotes transparency and anticorruption policies across the Georgian government, conducts the competitive recruitment process for the national civil service, and is lead by an official appointed and removed by the President of Georgia. (Law of Georgia on Civil Service, Saqartvelos Parlamentis Utskebani 1997, No. 45, English translation, CSB website.)
More than 2,900 officials are required to submit their annual disclosure statements. The list of officials subject to the financial disclosure requirement is defined by the Law on Conflict of Interests and includes the President, Prime-Minister and Members of the Cabinet, Members of the legislature, judges, prosecutors, governors, mayors, and other high ranking officials (art. 2). Any real estate, movable property valued more than US$6,000 (e.g., cars, jewelry), commercial activities, bank accounts and gifts if the amount exceeds US$2,500, and other transaction in an amount over approximately US$1,800 must be reported. (Asset Declarations and How They Work, CSB website(last visited Apr. 24, 2013).)
All reports are filed online at the CSB website (last visited Apr. 24, 2013). Within 48 hours after the submission of the reports, the CSB checks their validity and publishes them online. Those who do not meet the submission deadline are fined in the amount of 1,000 GEL (approximately US$600). (Law on the Conflict of Interests, art. 20.) According to article 20 of the Law on Conflict of Interests, refusal to provide a statement or submission of false information constitutes a criminal offence punishable by deprivation of the right to hold a senior government position or a punisment of community service for up to 200 hours. (Criminal Code of Georgia [in Georgian], art. 355, Georgian Ministry of Justice website.)
The existing online search system has been used by Georgian and international NGOs to monitor public officials’ income and expenditures. (Caitlin Ryan & Rusudan Khotivari, Tracking Top-level Ministry Official’s Income and Bonuses,Transparency International Georgia (Feb. 1, 2011).) According to a Transparency International Georgia report, the “simplicity and transparency of the system enabled many Georgian interest groups and citizens to scrutinize government officials’ incomes and expenditures in a very effective way and prevent corruption in the public service.” (Id.)
The World Bank named the system of financial disclosure, together with other corruption prevention measures, such as renewal of the entire police force, which was considered to be the most corrupt institution in the country; significant increases in the salaries of public officials; investigation and prosecution of many corruption cases involving senior government officials; and introduction of e-governance, to be one of the recent success stories in fighting corruption. (Press Release, World Bank, No.2012/253/ECA, New World Bank Report Documents Successful Anti-Corruption Efforts in Georgia (Jan. 31, 2012).)
Prepared by Irakli Kotetishvili, Law Library Legislative Fellow, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.