International Treaty Data Exchange on Asset Disclosure and Conflict of Interest

Integrity bodies in charge of verifying the veracity of asset declarations can only access domestic state databases. So far, no mechanism exists for integrity bodies to exchange data internationally for their administrative checks.

Aiming to prevent and to combat corruption by providing for direct administrative exchange of information concerning asset declarations between the governments, Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, in cooperation with its member states and partners, has developed the Draft International Treaty on Exchange of Data for the Verification of Asset Declarations. The Treaty shall enable and streamline communication and simplify the present time-consuming processes in verification of public officials’ asset declaration. Respective anti-corruption bodies from the region will be able to communicate formally to each other in an effective and efficient manner compared to the current state of affairs.  The purpose of the Treaty is to prevent and to combat corruption by providing for a direct administrative exchange of information concerning asset declarations between the Parties to the Treaty.

This activity directly implements Resolution 6/4 of the sixth Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, from November 2015, which urges Member States to consider the possibility of concluding multilateral agreements on civil and administrative matters relating to corruption, including international cooperation.

This Draft Treaty is the result of a series of three workshops held in 2015 and 2016 with representatives of integrity bodies in South-Eastern Europe and of international stakeholders (Basel Institute of Governance, UNODC, UNDP and World Bank). Detailed information about the workshops are available on the following links:

Regional Meeting of the Oversight Bodies for Conflict of Interest and Asset Disclosure in Zagreb, Croatia 15-16 December 2015

Regional Meeting of the Oversight Bodies for Asset Disclosure & Conflict of Interest in Tirana, Albania 23 May 2016

Third Regional Meeting of Oversight Bodies for Asset Disclosure and Conflict of Interest in Sofia, Bulgaria 20-21 October 2016

The European Commission also provided written input to the Draft Treaty.

Western Balkan governments committed to the International Treaty on Exchange of Data in Asset Disclosure and Conflict of Interest at the Western Balkans Summit held in Trieste on 12 July. This marks the commencement of the political negotiations that will lead to Treaty signing anticipated for 2018.

The Treaty development and technical negotiations were financially supported by the Austrian Development Cooperation through the Southeast Europe Regional Programme on Strengthening the Capacity of Anti-corruption Authorities and Civil Society to Combat Corruption and Contribute to the UNCAC Review Process.

Page updated in August 2017

 


Background 

Many corrupt public officials spend their actual wealth abroad: they buy real estate, own businesses, or deposit money on foreign bank accounts. Hiding this wealth is relatively easy. The public officials simply omit declaring these foreign assets. Similar is true for the disclosure of private interests.

Integrity bodies in charge for verifying the veracity of asset declarations can only access domestic state databases. Unless the foreign data is open source, integrity bodies cannot access it. At the same time, verifying asset declarations is a purely preventive task. Thus, integrity bodies cannot make use of mutual legal assistance mechanisms available in criminal matters.

In the area of taxation, the same challenge exists: dishonest taxpayers hide their true wealth abroad. However, in order to verify the veracity of tax declarations, countries have for many years exchanged data among each other. To this end, more than 100 states have used the OECD Model “Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters” in order to formally exchange data “relevant to the determination, assessment and collection of such taxes” .

In the area of financial disclosure for integrity purposes, such an international exchange of data does not take place yet. Reflections on possible model agreements have just begun to emerge (ReSPA, Feasibility Study on Data Exchange for Income and Asset Declarations (2014)). Given the stark similarities between verifying tax declarations and verifying asset declarations, a similar mechanism is needed to facilitate international exchange of data.

With this activity, RAI intends to set up a mechanism for international data exchange in the region and beyond. To this end, it cooperates inter alia with ReSPA and the World Bank.

This activity implements Resolution 6/4 of the sixth Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on 6 November 2015, urging Member States to consider the possibility of concluding multilateral agreements on civil and administrative matters relating to corruption, including international cooperation.

Page updated in May 2015