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INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION

Newsletter Jun 2019 - ISSN 1694-2906 http://www.icac.mu fb.com/icacmauritius youtube.com/icacmu

The Declaration of Assets Act 2018 Explained


The Declaration of Assets Act 2018 was enacted by the National Assembly on 12 December 2018 and
came into force on 01 June 2019. The Act provides for a new legal framework governing the
declaration of assets in the public sector in Mauritius. Under section 4 of the 2018 Act, any person
referred to under Section 3 of the Act (declarant), has an obligation to file his declaration of assets
and liabilities with the ICAC, including the assets and liabilities of his spouse and minor children and,
property sold, transferred or donated to his children of age and his grandchildren (Section 4(4)). A
declarant in office at the date of commencement of the Act also have the obligation to make a
declaration of his assets and those of his spouse, his minor children, and property sold, transferred or
donated to his children of age and grandchildren. (Section 16 – Transitional Provisions and Section
4(4)). Furthermore, any person required to make a declaration of his assets and liabilities under any
other enactment, shall not be required to make a declaration of his assets and liabilities…
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Declaration of Assets: The evolution of the local legislation


Asset declarations of elected members and public officials are a powerful tool to prevent and combat
corruption, money laundering, illicit enrichment and conflicts of interests. According to the World
Bank, more than 150 countries have introduced asset disclosure requirements for their public officials.
Many of these countries make asset declarations available for public scrutiny. The main objective of
the DoA Act 2018 is to provide a new legal framework governing the declaration of assets in the public
sector in Mauritius. In order to fully appreciate the value and significance of the 2018 Act, and its
evolution from the 1991 Act, a quick glance at the past is enlightening. On 5 June 1985, the Declaration
of Assets Act 1985 was proclaimed. This marked the first declaration of assets regime of our country
for every member of the legislative assembly. The definition of assets under the 1985 Act was limited
to immovable property, motor vehicles, boats, shares and any interest in a partnership, société or
company. However, it was only a matter of filing with the clerk of the legislative assembly…

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Public Disclosure of Asset Declarations


There is now a growing trend towards requiring the disclosure by government officials, of their assets
and liabilities declarations, in order to combat corruption, foster public confidence in government,
and encourage foreign investment. The disclosure of assets and liabilities to the public represents a
major breakthrough in terms of ensuring greater transparency in the management of public affairs.
However, the issue of disclosure to the public of the assets and liabilities of members of parliament
and other representatives of the population, is often linked to the issue of privacy. Section 7(1) of the
DoA Act 2018 provides a list of persons whose declarations have to be disclosed to the public. This
includes: (a) the declarations made by members of the National Assembly, including the Speaker; (b)
members of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly, including the Chairperson of the Rodrigues Regional
Assembly; and (c) councillors of a Municipal City Council, Municipal Town Council or District Council...

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A publication of the Independent Commission Against Corruption


Réduit Triangle, Moka
Republic of Mauritius
Tel: 402 6600 - Fax: 402 6959 - Hotline 142 - email: icacoffice@intnet.mu
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Message from the Director-General


The Declaration of Assets obligation is one component corruption, money laundering or illicit enrichment, and
of a multidisciplinary approach to combating financial c) to disclose to the public the category of declarations
crime, including corruption, fraud, and money as defined under the law.
laundering. It complements the other well-known
components of the financial crime strategy ranging Secondly, it evolves and demarcates itself from the
from investigation and prosecution, prevention, previous (1991) regime by: a) it creating a category of
education, asset forfeiture and unexplained wealth new declarants, including declarants, as defined,
orders (UWOs). An asset declaration system provides required to make a declaration of his assets and
an additional powerful tool to monitor, and can liabilities under any other enactment, and b) expanding
contribute to combating, such crimes by either the definition of assets to include different types of
reducing the incidence of conflicts of interest, or by assets and the nature of those assets subject to the
helping to identify and prosecute cases of corruption, limitations defined in the Act. The above illustrate how
money laundering and illicit enrichment by public and to what extent the new law is a path-breaking
officials. Corrupt officials and corrupt politicians, can development, and the extent to which it demarcates
often hide their assets under the names of their itself from the previous regime, in the fight against
relatives, their spouses and other individuals. corruption and money laundering.
Therefore, it should be possible to monitor not only
their wealth, but that of close relatives. The ICAC hails the new legislation as a laudable
initiative by setting out a statutory framework in line
In addition, asset declaration systems, also referred to with international best practices. The global trend is
as financial disclosure, or declaration of interest that many countries have adopted declaration of assets
systems, are an important element of building legislation as part of their anti-corruption framework.
successful anti-corruption programs and a culture of In adopting this legislation, Mauritius lines up with the
integrity in public service. Declarations of Assets numerous countries and gives an indication of its
systems seek to develop a higher norm of integrity commitment to international obligations regarding the
among public officials including those elected or anti-corruption and anti-money laundering strategy.
appointed in the legislative and executive branches of
government as well as senior public officials and the Finally, however, the value of the legislation depends
judicial profession. Building integrity in the public and on its effective implementation which, in turn, depends
judicial sectors are critical to ensuring a higher on the collaboration of every person concerned to
standard of conduct. As will become clear throughout comply with the provisions of the law and with the
this Newsletter, the Declaration of Assets Act 2018 is a ICAC. At the ICAC, we see in this legislation an
landmark step in the direction of combating corruption, opportunity to develop and enhance a culture of good
money laundering and illicit assets as well as governance and accountability in the public service
monitoring conflicts of interest. It illustrates a based on proactivity and constant monitoring. The
significant evolution from the 1991 legislation. ICAC, therefore, calls for the collaboration of all
stakeholders for an effective implementation of the
The Independent Commission against Corruption DoA Act 2018 which will definitely act as a deterrence
(ICAC) is the agency designated to manage the 2018 to corruption, money laundering and other financial
Declaration of Assets Act. It had previously, since crimes.
2002, been the depositary of the 1991 Declaration of
Assets Act. It is also given this responsibility in view of It is with great pleasure that I am announcing through
the nature of its mandate as the anti-corruption and this newsletter, the setting up of a dedicated unit that
anti-money laundering agency, to “monitor the assets will be responsible to manage the different obligations
and liabilities of any declarant for the purpose of cast under the law. The newsletter provides details of
detecting and investigating corruption and money the different aspects of the law, including the mandate
laundering offenses or illicit enrichment” (sec 9). The of the ICAC, the different obligations created under the
2018 Act, however, provides the Commission with a law, the definition of “declarants”, the meaning of
new two-tier mandate to administer the Act. The two- “assets”, among others. However, while the
tier approach is explained in terms of, first, a new and newsletter provides additional information about the
progressive mandate covering three main new law, it is not a substitute for the law. All
responsibilities, and, second, an extensive scope of concerned should rely on the law.
coverage of “declarants” (those with the obligation to
make a declaration) combined with a wider and Navin Beekarry
extensive definition of assets.

In the first case, the three main responsibilities


include: a) the reception of all declarations made by
the declarants; b) the obligation to monitor those
declarations for purposes of, first, ascertaining their
correctness and compliance with the law and, second,
to monitor the assets and liabilities of any declarant for
the purpose of detecting and investigating any

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THE DECLARATION OF ASSETS ACT 2018 EXPLAINED
This section illustrates selected extracts from the Declaration of Assets Act 2018 but is not a substitute for the law. Declarants are invited to consult the legislation.

1. Who should declare?


Persons currently in post:
 Every member of the National Assembly, including the Speaker of the National
Assembly, and every Minister.
 Every member of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA), including the
Chairperson of the RRA, and every Commissioner.
 Every Councillor of a Municipal City Council, Municipal Town Council or District Elected officials
Council.
 Every Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor, Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chairperson or
Vice-Chairperson of a Municipal City Council, Municipal Town Council or District
Council.

 Every judicial officer in the grade of District Magistrate and above; and senior
public officer of the grade of, or drawing salary at the level of, Deputy
Permanent Secretary and above.
 Every Chief Executive of a Municipal City Council, Municipal Town Council or
District Council, and every officer of such Councils drawing salary at the level of Senior public officials
Deputy Permanent Secretary and above.
 Every Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of State-owned enterprises and
statutory bodies, and every officer of such enterprises and statutory bodies
drawing salary at the level of Deputy Permanent Secretary and above.

The benchmark salary of Deputy Permanent Secretary shall be the starting salary
on the scale provided in the latest report of the Pay Research Bureau. The
benchmark salary shall be readjusted upon the effective date of implementation of
any new PRB report for the grade. The current benchmark DPS salary is Rs
64,800 as per the 2016 PRB Report.

 Every adviser and officer employed on a contractual basis in Ministries, drawing


Contractual public officials
salary at the level of Deputy Permanent Secretary and above.

 Such other persons as may be prescribed under Section 3 (i) of the Act.

2. How to declare?

Declarations should be made on the prescribed Assets Declaration forms of


the First and Second Schedules of the Declaration of Assets Regulations, that
can be downloaded from the ICAC website www.icac.mu or collected at the
reception desk of the ICAC, Reduit Triangle, Moka.

Declarations submitted directly to the ICAC

Every person referred to in section 3(1)(e) to (i):


 Every judicial officer in the grade of District Magistrate and above; and senior public officer of the grade of, or drawing
salary at the level of, Deputy Permanent Secretary and above;
 Every Chief Executive of a Municipal City Council, Municipal Town Council or District Council, and every officer of such
Councils drawing salary at the level of Deputy Permanent Secretary and above;
 Every Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of State-owned enterprises and statutory bodies, and every officer of such
enterprises and statutory bodies drawing salary at the level of Deputy Permanent Secretary and above;
 Every adviser and officer employed on a contractual basis in Ministries, drawing salary at the level of Deputy Permanent
Secretary and above;
 Such other persons as may be prescribed under Section 3 (i) of the Act;
shall, not later than 30 days after being appointed; and his office becomes vacant, make a declaration of his assets and
liabilities with ICAC on the Second Schedule of the Declaration of Assets Form.

Officers referred to under Section 4(1) and (2) (referred to above as elected officials) shall make their declaration by way of
affidavit on the prescribed form of the First Schedule of the Declaration of Assets Regulations, sworn before the Supreme
Court and submitted to the ICAC within the specified period (see section When to Declare). For those, the declaration can be
submitted by registered post addressed to the Director-General on the address above or deposited at the reception desk of the
ICAC.
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THE DECLARATION OF ASSETS ACT 2018 EXPLAINED
This section illustrates selected extracts from the Declaration of Assets Act 2018 but is not a substitute for the law. Declarants are invited to consult the legislation.

3. What to declare?

Assets to be declared under section 2 of the act are:

 Money, in any currency, in local banks and foreign banks.

 Cash in hand, exceeding one million rupees in any


currency.

 Securities, including stocks, bonds, treasury bills or other


units held in Mauritius or abroad.

 Shares or any interest in a company, société or


partnership.

 Any freehold or leasehold immovable property,


registered in Mauritius or abroad, and which, at the time of
declaration, has been purchased but is still subject to
registration in Mauritius or abroad.
Table 2

 Motor vehicles, boats, ships or aircrafts

 Any item of jewelry, precious stone or metal, or watch,


exceeding 500,000 rupees in value.

 Any liabilities in relation to those assets, including any joint


liability and any other liabilities which are not in relation
to those assets

 Any asset held by a person for and on behalf of the declarant in the declarant’s capacity as ultimate beneficiary.

Declarants should:
 Include the assets and liabilities of spouse and minor children.

 Specify any property sold, transferred or donated to his children of age and grandchildren,
in any form or manner whatsoever, including income or benefits from any account,
partnership or trust.

Declarants shall not:


 Be required to specify the value of any asset included in the declaration, except where such asset
consists of cash.

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ICAC Newsletter May 2019 issue - www.icac.mu
THE DECLARATION OF ASSETS ACT 2018 EXPLAINED
This section illustrates selected extracts from the Declaration of Assets Act 2018 but is not a substitute for the law. Declarants are invited to consult the legislation.

4. When to declare?
Who should declare – (Section 3) When to declare (Section 4) Fresh declaration
Every member Not later than 30 days after:
- the first sitting of the National Assembly
- being elected to the National Assembly,
Speaker following a by-election
- his seat becomes vacant pursuant to
National
Section 35 of the Constitution
Assembly
Not later than 30 days after:
- being appointed
Every Minister
- his office becomes vacant pursuant to
Section 60 of the Constitution
Not later than 30 days after:
Every member
- the first sitting of the Rodrigues Regional
Assembly
- being elected to the Rodrigues Regional
Assembly, following a by-election
Chairperson Within a period of 30 days, inform
Rodrigues - his seat becomes vacant pursuant to
Regional Section 19 of the Rodrigues Regional ICAC, in writing, where he acquires
Assembly Assembly Act or disposes of:
Not later than 30 days after: - any freehold or leasehold
- being appointed immovable property in Mauritius
Every Commissioner - his office becomes vacant pursuant to or abroad;
Section 37 of the Rodrigues Regional - a motor vehicle, boat, a ship or
Assembly Act an aircraft
Not later than 30 days after:
- the first sitting of the Municipal City
Council, Municipal Town Council or
District Council
Every Councillor - being elected to Municipal City Council,
Municipal Town Council or District
 Municipal Council, following a by-election
City - his seat becomes vacant pursuant to
Council Section 40 of the Local Government Act
 Municipal Every Lord Mayor
Town Deputy Lord Mayor
Council Not later than 30 days after:
Mayor
 District - being elected
Deputy Mayor
Council - his office becomes vacant pursuant to
Chairperson
Section 41 of the Local Government Act
Vice-Chairperson

Every Chief Executive


Make a fresh declaration with ICAC
Every Officer drawing salary at the level :
of Deputy Permanent Secretary (DPS) and - at every interval of 5 years
above following the date of the first
Judicial In the grade of District Magistrate and proclamation
Officer above - within a period of 30 days after
Senior Public In the grade of, or drawing salary at the leaving office
Officer level of DPS and above Not later than 30 days after:
- being appointed
State-owned  Chairperson - his office becomes vacant Within a period of 30 days, inform
enterprises  Chief Executive Officer ICAC, in writing, where he acquires
Statutory  Every Officer drawing salary at the level or disposes of:
bodies of DPS and above - any freehold or leasehold
immovable property in Mauritius
Every adviser and officer employed on a contractual basis
or abroad;
in Ministries, drawing salary at the level of Deputy
- a motor vehicle, boat, a ship or
Permanent Secretary and above
an aircraft
Such other persons as may be prescribed

Persons (declarants) in Office at Commencement of the Act (section 16)

Every declarant in office at the commencement of the Act is required to make his declaration under section 16(1) and (2)
coupled with section 3 of the Act. Declarants covered under section 16, that is, those in office at the commencement of the
Act, have a period of 90 days from the commencement of the Act to make their declarations. Officers taking post after the
date of commencement of the Act have to abide by the period of filing referred to in the table above.
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ICAC Newsletter May 2019 issue - www.icac.mu
THE DECLARATION OF ASSETS ACT 2018 EXPLAINED
This section illustrates selected extracts from the Declaration of Assets Act 2018 but is not a substitute for the law. Declarants are invited to consult the legislation.

5. What will be disclosed?

What ICAC shall disclose to the Public

Pursuant to Section 7 of the Declaration of Assets Act 2018, the ICAC shall
disclose to the public the declarations made by members of the National
Assembly, including the Speaker, members of the Rodrigues Regional
Assembly, including the Chairperson of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly,
and Councillors of a Municipal City Council, Municipal Town Council or
District Council.

What ICAC shall not disclose to the public

ICAC shall not, in relation to the persons referred to in the section above,
disclose to the public information pertaining to –
 money, in any currency, in local banks and foreign banks;
 any item of jewelry, precious stone or metal, or watch, exceeding 500,000
rupees in value; and
 cash in hand not exceeding one million rupees in any currency accepted as
legal tender in any country.

ICAC shall keep confidential and not disclose to the public any declaration, other
than a declaration referred to in Section 4(1) and (2).

Disclosure to any Enforcement Authority

Any enforcement authority (“Enforcement authority” means the Police, the


Enforcement Authority under the Asset Recovery Act, the Mauritius Revenue
Authority, ICAC, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Integrity Reporting Services
Agency under the Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act, or such other
body as may be prescribed) may apply to the Judge in Chambers for the
disclosure of a declaration and the Judge in Chambers may, on good cause
shown, order the disclosure of the declaration.

6. What are the offences and penalties?

Any person who fails to make a declaration or who wilfully makes a false declaration shall commit an offence and shall, on
conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one million rupees and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.
Any person who, in any other manner contravenes the Declaration of Assets Act 2018 or any regulations made under it, shall
commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees.

Any spouse who, without any reasonable excuse, fails to collaborate in disclosing his or her assets and liabilities for the
purpose of fulfilling a requirement under this Declaration of Assets Act 2018, shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction,
be liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.

Where a person fails, without reasonable excuse, to submit a declaration within the specified period, he shall be liable to pay to
ICAC a penalty representing 5,000 rupees per month or part of the month, until such time as the declaration is submitted,
provided that the total penalty payable shall not exceed 50,000 rupees.

Any person who is dissatisfied with a decision of ICAC relating to the imposition of a penalty may, within 28 days of the
imposition of the penalty, apply to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of such decision.

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Declaration of Assets: -The evolution of the
-
ICAC Newsletter May 2019 issue - www.icac.mu www.facebook.com/icacmauritius www.youtube.com/icacmu
local legislation
Asset declarations of elected members and public officials property, including income or benefits from any account,
are a powerful tool to prevent and combat corruption, partnership or trust.
money laundering, illicit enrichment and conflicts of
interests. According to the World Bank, more than 150 Another major evolution in the 2018 law is the obligation to
countries have introduced asset disclosure requirements for disclose to the public a category of those declarations. This
their public officials. Many of these countries make asset new law addresses a deficiency in the previous legislation
declarations available for public scrutiny. The main objective which did not include this obligation. Furthermore, the 2018
of the DoA Act 2018 is to provide a new legal framework legislation creates an additional obligation for the ICAC to
governing the declaration of assets in the public sector in monitor the assets and liabilities of declarants. In the
Mauritius. previous law, there was no obligation to monitor and to
disclose declarants’ assets and liabilities. Without
What has changed? monitoring, declaration of assets becomes a box-ticking
administrative step. Monitoring breathes life into the
In order to fully appreciate the value and significance of the declaration of assets, thus rendering it effective, as a tool
2018 Act, and its evolution from the 1991 Act, a quick both for deterrence and detection.
glance at the past is enlightening. On 5 June 1985, the
Declaration of Assets Act 1985 was proclaimed. This marked The role of ICAC
the first declaration of assets regime of our country for
every member of the legislative assembly. The definition of The legislator has entrusted ICAC as the depository of the
assets under the 1985 Act was limited to immovable declarations of assets. Its mandate to monitor the
property, motor vehicles, boats, shares and any interest in a declaration of assets is determined by sections 4, 6, 7, 8, 9,
partnership, société or company. However, it was only a 10 of the DoA Act 2018 and section 20(1)(s), 20(1)(t) and
matter of filing with the clerk of the legislative assembly. 20(1) (u) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 2002.
The mandate includes:
In 1991, the 1985 Act was repealed and replaced by a new (a) receiving and managing declarations;
Declaration of Assets Act. The 1991 Act did not constitute a (b) monitoring fresh declarations to the ICAC at the
drastic change of the 1985 asset declaration regime, save different intervals, following the submission of the first
and except that it: declarations;
(c) monitoring fresh declarations after leaving;
(a) expanded the definition of people covered with the duty (d) disclosure to the public of a category of those
to make a declaration by including any Councillor of a declarations;
Municipal City Council, Municipal Town Council or District (e) issuing directives to any person to whom the DOA Act
Council; and 2018 applies;
(b) extended the duty for the declarants to include the (f) monitoring the assets and liabilities of any declarant for
assets and liabilities of their spouse and children. the purpose of detecting and investigating corruption and
money laundering offences or illicit enrichment;
The DoA Act 2018 provides for an extensive definition and (g) imposing penalty for late submission of declaration; and
scope of “declarant” by enlarging the categories of people (a) follow-up on cases of judicial reviews by persons
under the obligation to declare their assets and liabilities. It dissatisfied with decisions of the ICAC relating to the
also significantly widens the definition of assets. The imposition of a penalty pursuant to section 10(1) of the DOA
declarant under the 2018 law not only includes members of Act 2018.
the National Assembly, every member of the Rodrigues
Regional Assembly and every Councillor of a Municipal City The reasoning behind the choice of the anti-corruption
Council, Municipal Town Council or District Council (which agency for the above mandate is due to the
was already present in the 1991 Act), but also includes: interconnectedness of the ICAC’s mission as per the
Prevention of Corruption Act in terms of prevention,
(a) every Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor, Mayor, Deputy education and investigation of corruption offences, as well
Mayor, Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of a Municipal City as money laundering under the Financial Intelligence and
Council, Municipal Town Council or District Council; Money Laundering Act. The addition of the Declaration of
(b) every judicial officer and senior public officer; Assets Act is the logical evolution of the existing arsenal.
(c) every Chief Executive of a Municipal City Council, Hence, it reinforces the financial crime strategy.
Municipal Town Council or District Council, and every officer
of such Councils drawing salary at the level of Deputy Ancillary to the statutory duties of the ICAC, the following
Permanent Secretary and above; will be required for the proper implementation of the DOA
(d) every Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of State- Act 2018:
owned enterprises and statutory bodies, and every officer of (b) managing the database of declarants;
such enterprises and statutory bodies drawing salary at the (c) safe custody of declarations;
level of Deputy Permanent Secretary and above; (d) systematic verifications, recording and filing of
(e) every adviser and officer employed on a contractual declarations in the database:
basis in Ministries, drawing salary at the level of Deputy (e) assisting public officials to fill in declaration forms;
Permanent Secretary and above. (f) sensitizing and educating declarants on their obligations
under DoA Act 2018;
In addition to the 1991 Act, where declarants still have to (g) investigation of suspected violations of the law;
declare the assets and liabilities of their spouses and minor (h) proper administration and continuous development of
children, the 2018 law includes grandchildren where a the Declaration of Assets Systems.
declarant has sold, transferred or donated to his children of
age and to his grandchildren, in any form whatsoever, any
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PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF ASSET DECLARATION


There is now a growing trend towards requiring the disclosure by government officials, of their assets and
liabilities, in order to combat corruption, foster public confidence in government, and encourage foreign
investment. The disclosure of assets and liabilities has always been questioned on the basis of the need to
preserve the right to privacy of the individual. But such rights are not absolute and often have to be interpreted in
the larger context of public interest and public order. The question as to whether or not the disclosure, to the
public of the assets and liabilities of members of parliament and other representatives of the population, can be
curtailed by the right of an individual to privacy has been addressed by the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Court of Human Rights

Whose assets will be disclosed to the public?


The European Court of Human Rights considered “that it is
Section 7(1) of the DoA Act 2018 provides a limited list of precisely this comprehensive character which makes it realistic
persons whose declarations have to be disclosed to the public. to assume that the impugned provisions will meet their
This includes: objective of giving the public a reasonably exhaustive picture of
councilors’ financial positions ... that the additional obligation to
(a) the declarations made by members of the National submit information on property, including marital property, can
Assembly, including the Speaker; be said to be reasonable in that it is designed to discourage
(b) members of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly, attempts to conceal assets simply by acquiring them using the
including the Chairperson of the Rodrigues Regional name of a councilor’s spouse.”
Assembly; and
(c) councillors of a Municipal City Council, Municipal The European Court of Human Rights also endorsed the
Town Council or District Council. publication and internet access to declarations arguing that “the
general public has a legitimate interest in ascertaining that local
Public disclosure of the private assets of public officials and politics are transparent and Internet access to the declarations
family members should not clash with the rights to privacy and makes access to such information effective and easy. Without
data protection. Both these rights are, however, not absolute such access, the obligation would have no practical importance
and can be restricted provided there is a basis in law and a or genuine incidence on the degree to which the public is
legitimate public interest justifies the restriction. informed about the political process.”

Prevention of corruption and exposing unexplained wealth of The new law will not be operating in a vacuum. It provides
officials are serious and legitimate public interests. Hence, the safeguard such as the fact that the following asset will not be
limitations on the privacy of public officials by requiring them to disclosed to the public as per section 7(2) of DoA Act 2018:
disclose their income, assets and liabilities would serve the
public interest. The legal basis would be the Declaration of (a) money, in any currency, in local banks and foreign banks;
Assets Act 2018. (b) any item of jewelry, precious stone or metal, or watch,
exceeding 500,000 rupees in value; and
Case before the European Court of Human Rights (c) cash in hand not exceeding one million rupees in any
currency accepted as legal tender in any country.
In the case Wypych v. Poland (October 25, 2005, application
no. 2428/05) which was decided by the European Court of The DoA Act 2018 provides the foundation for building a highly
Human Rights, the application of Article 8 of the European effective asset declaration system whilst ensuring the safeguard
Convention of Human Rights was considered. The Court found of all confidential data. It sets a clear legal basis for collection
that the requirement to submit the declaration and its online and publication of personal data in asset declarations. The law
publication were indeed an interference with the right to explicitly sets out which part of the declaration will be disclosed
privacy, but that it was justified and the comprehensive scope to the public and which part will be kept confidential.
of the information to be submitted was not found to be
excessively burdensome. 8
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DECLARATION OF ASSETS: AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE

Apart from a few earlier cases, systems of public The 1990s saw not only the spread of declarations in transition
officials’ declarations began to evolve into their modern countries but also the emergence of mainly soft international
standards to this end. One of the earlier international
versions after the Second World War. In the United documents that foresaw public officials’ declarations was the
States, starting in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (adopted in
introduced a requirement that federal officials should 1996). The Convention sets a requirement for states parties to
disclose information about their private finances to the consider measures to create, maintain and strengthen inter
public authorities. However, growing government and alia“ systems for registering the income, assets and liabilities
of persons who perform public functions in certain posts as
recurrent corruption scandals created impetus for
specified by law and, where appropriate, for making such
initiatives to strengthen public integrity. registrations public”.
It took Watergate and other scandals before the US Congress Nowadays public officials’ declarations have become a part of
enacted the Ethics in Government Act in 1978. The Act, still in the global standard that is embodied in the United Nations
force today, requires detailed public financial disclosure by Convention against Corruption (adopted in 2003). Article 8
government employees above a certain level in all three (Paragraph 5) contains a soft standard, which requires state
branches of the federal government. parties to “endeavour, where appropriate and in accordance
with the fundamental principles of its domestic law, to
In Western Europe, the disclosure of public officials’ income, establish measures and systems requiring public officials to
assets and financial interests came later despite early reluctance make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter
to impose strict disclosure systems, although the United Kingdom alia, their outside activities, employment, investments, assets
adopted its Prevention of Corruption Act as early as 1889. and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of
However, despite a 1969 select committee’s conclusion that interest may result with respect to their functions as public
there was no need for a register of interests, in 1974, the House officials.”
of Commons introduced the Register of Interests. Declarations
for public officials started to gain interest in Western Europe in The Convention returns to the issue of disclosure in the
the 1980s when, in 1982, a law on declarations was adopted in context of asset recovery by requiring that “each State Party
Spain while, in Italy, in that same year, Italian members of shall consider establishing, in accordance with its domestic
parliament became obliged to disclose their additional income law, effective financial disclosure systems for appropriate
and property status. In 1983 a law for public control of the public officials and shall provide for appropriate sanctions for
wealth of elected officials was adopted in Portugal. All countries non-compliance. Each State Party shall also consider taking
of the Central and Eastern region that joined the European Union such measures as may be necessary to permit its competent
in 2004 and 2007 had adopted their declaration systems by authorities to share that information with the competent
2000. This can be explained by conditions for EU accession but authorities in other States Parties when necessary to
the trend continues into the 21st century, when both new investigate, claim and recover proceeds of offences
aspirants for EU membership and former Soviet Republics established in accordance with this Convention” (Article 52,
developed their disclosure rules. Paragraph 5).
The earliest European standard is found in the Recommendation The requirements of the UN Convention do not amount to
Nr. R (2000) 10 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States more than the obligation to consider. Still, borrowing language
on codes of conduct for public officials (adopted on 11 May from the Legislative Guide for the Implementation of the UN
2000), where Article 14 refers to declarations, i.e., “The public Convention Against Corruption (UN, 2006, Paragraph 12, p. 4),
official who occupies a position in which his or her personal or it is clear that states are urged to consider adopting such
private interests are likely to be affected by his or her official declaration systems and to make a genuine effort to determine
duties should, as lawfully required, declare upon appointment, at whether they would be compatible with their legal system.
regular intervals thereafter and whenever any changes occur the
nature and extent of those interests.” The recommendation Further recommendations are provided in the Technical Guide
emphasizes the declaration’s purpose of controlling conflict of to the UN Convention (UN, 2009, pp. 25-26), and include the
interest – not that of wealth monitoring, which is also viewed as following:
important in a number of countries. • disclosure covers all substantial types of incomes and assets
of officials (all or from a certain level of appointment or sector
The conditions that applied to the countries wishing to accede to and/or their relatives);
the European Union generally did not contain an explicit • disclosure forms allow for year-on-year comparisons of
requirement to establish a declaration system for public officials officials’ financial position;
(there is no EU law – or acquis communautaire – on • disclosure procedures preclude possibilities to conceal
declarations). The EU position, stated in broad terms, included officials’ assets through other means or, to the extent possible,
the requirement “that the candidate country has achieved assets held by those against whom a state party may have no
stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, access (e.g. held overseas or by a nonresident);
human rights...”. Meantime the candidate countries were • a reliable system for income and asset control exists for all
expected to fulfil the requirements of relevant international physical and legal persons – such as within tax administration
standards and introduce various anti-corruption procedures. – to access in relation to persons or legal entities associated
Moreover, particular countries received concrete requirements to with public officials;
implement or strengthen measures to control the conflicts of • officials have a strong duty to substantiate/prove the sources
interest and verify assets of public officials as a part of the EU of their income;
demand to control corruption. • to the extent possible, officials are precluded from declaring
nonexistent assets, which can later be used as justification for
Thus, even though there is no binding legal basis and no otherwise unexplained wealth;
conclusive proof of effectiveness, declarations for public officials • oversight agencies have sufficient manpower, expertise,
have become a de facto standard of the European Union vis-à-vis technical capacity and legal authority for meaningful controls;
candidate members. The functioning of declaration systems • appropriate deterrent penalties exist for violations of these
continues to be under the scrutiny of the European Commission requirements.
in current candidate countries.
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BEST INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND PRACTICES

International Instruments and Declaration of Assets

Asset declarations of public officials are a powerful tool to corruption can be. As at 26 June 2018, 186 countries are state
prevent corruption, detect illicit enrichment and conflicts of parties to the UNCAC. Declaration of assets of public official
interests. According to the World Bank, more than 150 and members of parliament have since the coming into force of
countries have introduced asset disclosure requirements for the UNCAC always been a pivotal tool in the fight against
their public officials. Many of these countries make asset corruption.
declarations available for public scrutiny. The major purpose of
the declaration of assets regimes is to ensure that corrupt Article 8, paragraph 5 of the UNCAC provides:
public officials will not be able to conceal the proceeds of any “[…] Each State Party shall endeavour, where appropriate and
illegal activity. in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic
law, to establish measures and systems requiring public officials
Furthermore, declaration of assets by public official has the aim to make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter
of establishing measures and systems requiring public officials alia, their outside activities, employment, investments, assets
to make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest
alia, their outside activities, employment, investments, assets may result with respect to their functions as public officials […]”
and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of
interest may result with respect to their functions as public With regards to the issue of disclosure in the context of asset
officials. The aim is to avoid potential conflicts of interest in the recovery, at Article 52, paragraph 5, of the UNCAC: “each State
future and to facilitate the management of such conflicts, Party shall consider establishing, in accordance with its
where appropriate. domestic law, effective financial disclosure systems for
appropriate public officials and shall provide for appropriate
Another important aspect of a declaration of assets system is sanctions for non-compliance. Each State Party shall also
the need for transparency regarding the declarations. Public consider taking such measures as may be necessary to permit
access to decclarations multiplies their anti-corruption value, as its competent authorities to share that information with the
they can often play a crucial role by uncovering irregularities competent authorities in other States Parties when necessary to
and triggering formal verification of declarations by anti- investigate, claim and recover proceeds of offences established
corruption/asset declaration agencies. However, while there is in accordance with this Convention”.
a global trend towards greater disclosure, striking the right
balance between public disclosure and protection of privacy
remains a subject of debate. There are strong reasons for African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating
disclosing, at least partially, data of political officials, such as Corruption
MPs. Politicians should be prepared to provide explanations
regarding the disclosed information, if there are any serious Article 7, paragraph 1 of the African Union Convention on
concerns raised in the media or by civil society. Preventing and Combating Corruption states:
“In order to combat corruption and related offences in the
Academic studies have shown that public access to declared public service, State Parties commit themselves to: 1. require all
information is associated with lower levels of perceived or designated public officials to declare their assets at the time
corruption. Country experiences also indicate that public access of assumption of office during and after their term of office in
can greatly increase the ability of disclosure systems to deliver the public service […]”
results.
It is to be noted that Article 7 of the AU Convention on
Despite the growing demand for guidance, there is at present Preventing and Combating Corruption and Article 8, paragraph
no unified international standards on disclosure by public 5 of the UNCAC are not mutually exclusive. They share the
officials. We can however, inspire ourselves from the leading same principles of disclosure and accountability for persons
international instruments to measure whether we meet the holding public offices.
basic requirements and whether we have gone the extra mile.
These international instruments are: - Good practices in asset disclosure systems in G20
countries
(a) The United Nations Convention against Corruption
(‘UNCAC’) – at Article 8 Paragraph 5 and Article 52, Following up on the work undertaken on the contribution of
paragraph 5; asset disclosure systems to the fight against corruption, the
(b) The African Union Convention on Preventing and G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan for 2013-2014 states that
Combating Corruption – at Article 7 Paragraph 1; and members will follow-up by: -
(c) Good Practices in Asset Disclosure Systems in G20 “building on the common principles adopted in Los Cabos for
countries financial and asset disclosure systems for public officials,
beginning, for the purpose of peer learning, by considering G20
UNCAC countries current systems in light of these principles, and
exchanging relevant experiences” .
The requirement for financial disclosure systems by public
officials is a relatively modern phenomenon. Most of the In order to pursue this objective, the G20-Anti Corruption
modern asset and interest disclosure systems were developed Working Group (‘ACWG’) requested the World Bank and the
following the adoption of the UNCAC, in response to the OECD to identify draft good practices in the design and
requirements of Article 8 of the Convention. Mauritius had its implementation of asset disclosure systems in G20 countries,
first declaration of assets back in 1985, with very limited while providing the opportunity to learn from each other’s
success (to say the best). experiences to improve the effectiveness of disclosure systems
in the member countries and beyond. The common principles
The growing prominence of the anti-corruption agenda
worldwide is a testament to the realization of the scourge
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BEST INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND PRACTICES

enunciated above are embodied in the following list of good including members of the National Assembly, the Rodrigues
practices (‘GP’): Regional Assembly and local authorities, are subject to
mandatory asset declarations (section 3, Declaration of Assets
(a) “Disclosure requirements should be set forth clearly for the Act). Non-submission of declarations is sanctioned (section 6);
public official and for the general public and should be an however, no established verification and monitoring mechanism
integral component of laws, regulations and/or is in place. POCA section 84 on possession of unexplained
administrative guidelines, as appropriate, governing the wealth can be used in the course of an investigation.”
conduct of public officials in order to establish shared
expectations for accountability and transparency. Disclosure The Declaration of Assets 1991 (“DoA Act 1991 did not cater
systems should be as comprehensive as necessary to for a monitoring system. Previously, compliance with the law
combat corruption but should require only the submission of only involved the filing of the declarations but no monitoring
information reasonable and directly related to the was performed as the law did not provide for such a power
implementation of laws, regulations, and administrative neither to the ICAC which was the depository of the declaration
guidelines, as appropriate, governing the conduct of public of assets under the 1991 Act nor to any other Law Enforcement
officials” (hereinafter referred to as “GP1”); Agency. The new law caters for a monitoring mechanism. It is
also to be noted that non-compliance with the DoA Act 2018, is
(b) “Disclosed information should be made as widely available meted with harsher sentence (Please see Table 2 for
as possible, both within the government and to the general offences under the DoA Act 2018 at page 3).
public, in order to facilitate accountability while still taking
into consideration reasonable concerns for personal and When analyzing the provisions of DoA Act 2018, it is found to
family safety and privacy and for the laws, administrative be in line with the Good Practices in Asset Disclosure Systems in
requirements and traditions of the Economy. Information G20 countries as follows:
about the overall administration of the disclosure system,
including information about disclosure compliance rates and (a) GP1: The Declaration of Assets forms that are annexed to
enforcement activities, should be made available to the the DoA Act 2018 Act, provide for the assets and liabilities
public, in accordance with applicable law, regulation and/or that have to be declared. The disclosure requirements are
administrative guidelines.”( hereinafter referred to as set forth clearly for the public official. Furthermore, the
“GP2”); information requested is reasonable and appropriate for
the governing the conduct of public officials;
(c) Disclosure should first be required of those in senior (b) GP2: Disclosure of declarations which has been previously
leadership positions and then, as capacity permits, of those removed in the DoA Act 1991 has been incorporated in the
in positions most influencing public trust or in positions DoA Act 2018 for members of the National Assembly,
having a greater risk of conflict of interest or potential including the Speaker, members of the Rodrigues Regional
corruption.” (hereinafter referred to as “GP3”); Assembly, including the Chairperson of the Rodrigues
Regional Assembly, and Councillors of a Municipal City
(d) “Disclosure system administrators should have sufficient Council, Municipal Town Council or District Council;
authority, expertise, independence, and resources to carry (c) GP3: The law used to provide for only members of the
out the purpose of the system as designed” (hereinafter National Assembly, every member of the Rodrigues
referred to as “GP4”); Regional Assembly and every Councillor of a Municipal City
Council, Municipal Town Council or District Council and has
(e) “Disclosed information should be readily available for use in now been extended to various other public officials (see
preventing, detecting, investigating, imposing administrative Article on “When to Declare” at page 6)
remedies for and/or prosecuting corruption offenses (d) GP4: The ICAC is a specialized agency in the fight against
regarding conflicts of interest, illicit enrichment, and /or corruption and money laundering. As such it is more than
other forms of corruption. Disclosure should be required on capable of fulfilling its obligations of monitoring as it has the
a consistent and periodic basis so that the information resources and know-how to monitor the declaration of
reflects reasonably current circumstances” (hereinafter assets. This is in line with the GP4;
referred to as “GP5”). (e) GP5: Under the DoA Act 2018, declaration made pursuant
to the Act may be disclosed enforcement authorities upon
(f) “Penalties and/or administrative sanctions for late an order of the judge in chambers;
submission of, failure to submit, and submitting false (f) GP6: The DoA Act 2018 provides for harsher sentence in
information on a required disclosure report should be cases of non-compliance and late submission of the
effective, proportionate, and dissuasive”( hereinafter Declaration.(see table 2 for offences under the DoA
referred to as “GP6”) Act 2018 at page 3)

How does the new Declaration of Assets Act 2018 Based on the new offences, Mauritius has gone beyond what it
compare against the best international standards and required. There are now harsher sentence for late submission
practices? and false disclosure. It is also to be noted that it is now an
offence for a spouse who without any reasonable excuse fails to
The new salient features of the DoA Act 2018, expands the collaborate in disclosing his/her assets and liabilities.
scope of declarants from only members of the legislative
assembly to include inter alia high ranking officials, every CONCLUSION
Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of State-owned
enterprises and statutory bodies, and every officer of such It would be an understatement to say that the DoA Act 2018
enterprises and statutory bodies drawing salary at the level of has been long overdue. The element of “monitoring” and
Deputy Permanent Secretary. “disclosure” which are at the heart of the present legislation in
The compliance of Mauritius with the UNCAC was reviewed line with the international best practices, be it the UNCAC, the
during the first cycle of the second year of the Implementation African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating
Review Mechanism (CAC/COSP/IRG/I/2/1/Add.21). It was seen Corruption, and the Good practices in asset disclosure systems
in that review that: “Some public officials are subject to regular, in G20 countries. The failure of the DoA Act 1991 is largely due
confidential asset declarations, including staff of ICAC, MRA, the to a lack of monitoring system which is catered for in the new
FIU and the Procurement Policy Office. All elected officials, Act. 11
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THE DECLARATION OF ASSETS ACT AT A GLANCE:

RATIONALE, OBJECTIVES AND EXPECTED OUTCOMES

The need for a declaration of assets system has always accountants helping to hide assets or to report misdeeds
been explained in terms of three main aspects of combating (e.g. a percentage of the amount they are being asked to
corruption: a) conflict of interest control, b) transparency hide). In principle, to have a deterrent impact, sanctions for
and accountability, and c) verification of the legitimacy of not complying with declaration requirements should be
income and wealth. made as severe as for indulging in corrupt practices
themselves.
First, the United Nations Convention against Corruption
makes explicit reference to the possibility of a conflict of Hong Kong was first to use financial disclosure to monitor
interest as a benchmark for what information is to be the wealth of officials (Messick, 2009, p. 13). Although it is
declared. This reflects the fact that conflicts of interests not so common, some other countries also place emphasis
control is the most common purpose for the use of on monitoring assets. For example, in Albania, the stated
declarations of public officials. One could say that the purpose of the Law on the Declaration and Audit of Assets,
conflict of interest prevention focuses somewhat narrowly Financial Obligations of Elected Persons and Certain Public
on whether a particular interest can interfere with the Officials is “the determination of rules for the declaration
discharge of official duties. In the meantime there are also and audit of assets, the legitimacy of the sources of their
broader concerns with public accountability, raising the creation, financial obligations for elected persons, public
more general possibility of evaluating the activities of a employees, their families and persons related to them.”
public official, including what personal motives he/she may
have. Expected outcomes

Second, along with the prevention of conflicts of interest, The Transparency International Global Corruption Report
more general concerns for transparency, public 2006 presents the findings of a comparative analysis of
accountability, trust and integrity constitute the most asset disclosure laws in 16 countries, seeking to establish
commonly stated purposes of the declaration systems. how effective officials’ asset declaration laws are in
These purposes are in no way contradictory; they reflect reducing corruption. A series of statistical tests were
the political emphasis associated with one or another performed to measure the association between the
system. Historically, the right to petition the government existence and scope of such laws in these countries and
was extended to the broader right to know information held their perceived levels of corruption. The findings established
by the government. Where the content of public officials’ that:
declarations is available to the public, this tool essentially
extends coverage of this right. • Countries with a longer tradition of asset declaration by
public officials had significantly lower perceived levels of
Third, is the need to ensure that declarations are monitored corruption than countries with newer laws.
as regards the assets of public officials. Nevertheless, in • There was no significant correlation between the
some countries the idea is accepted that declarations of perceived levels of corruption and which level of officials
public officials should serve as a special tool of wealth must declare their assets. Levels of corruption in
monitoring. While the adoption of laws and rules requiring countries requiring asset declaration for all public
public officials to declare their wealth and assets either officials were not perceived significantly lower than in
upon entry into the public service or promotion into a other countries, where only higher ranking officials must
position with potential for illicit enrichment, serves a declare their assets.
preventive function, they also have an investigative • Perceived levels of corruption were lower in countries
function. They provide valuable information that may help whose declaration laws permitted prosecution of the
uncover misconduct, corruption, money laundering, and offending officials.
illicit enrichment after it takes place. Asset declaration • Countries that verified officials’ statements had
schemes generate baseline information against which later significantly lower perceived levels of corruption than
disclosure can be compared to identify which wealth is not countries that do not verify declaration content.
attributable to income, gifts and loans, and warn against • Countries that gave public access to officials’ asset
illicit enrichment from sources such as bribery, fraud and declaration had significantly lower perceived levels of
corruption. In doing so, compulsory periodic disclosure of corruption than other countries.
assets and liabilities by public officials is considered an • The analysis further demonstrated that the combination
effective measure to prevent corruption. It also of content verification and public access to declarations
demonstrates the leadership’s commitment to fight demonstrated an even greater association of reduced
corruption and helps the public to hold the government corruption. These preliminary findings, corroborated by
accountable. The rationale is that public officials should the findings of an expanded dataset of 42 countries,
undergo stronger scrutiny than the rest of the population. suggest that asset declaration laws have important
potential in the fight against corruption, provided they
As corruption is a difficult crime to prove, investigation are designed in an effective and credible manner.
techniques proving bribery can easily be abused and
threaten civil liberties. In comparison, the filing of false and
misleading declarations is easier to monitor, detect and
punish. This can even be made easier by providing
incentives for potential accomplices such as bankers or
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