Regional Data Exchange on Asset Disclosure and Conflict of Interest

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.