Identifying Unexplained Wealth of Public Officials: CEELI Assists Civil Society in Developing New Anti-Corruption Tools

Image

Over the past year, CEELI has worked closely with NGOs from across Central and Eastern Europe who actively engaged in developing tools to more effectively monitor “Politically Exposed Persons” of PEPs, a category that includes parliamentarians, the judiciary, and senior government officials. PEPs, in most countries, are subject to enhanced legal requirements to publically disclose their assets. The efforts of these NGOs (and of the lawyers and journalists that work with them) include both the development of searchable public data bases and other public advocacy tools that can be used to draw public attention to official corruption and highlight cases of unexplained wealth.  Such tools and advocacy campaigns represent a new, more aggressive approach to documenting and publicizing public corruption; findings related to substantial unexplained wealth can be shared by NGOs with financial intelligence units (FIUs), banks and law enforcement agencies. NGOs in Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine are currently among those in the forefront of these efforts.

CEELI’s efforts include quarterly sessions in Prague that are designed to facilitate coordination of ongoing regional efforts, the exchange of best practices, and the development of technical and systemic improvements to current databases. Specific issues include review of the ideal content and organization of PEP databases; considerations related to privacy protections and protection of personal data; standards for collecting data from the public registers; assuring information reliability; best practices for triggering responsive reactions by foreign law enforcement; analysis of financial records; identification of beneficial owners; and technical solutions for problems encountered by end users of PEP databases, including website security. CEELI is also currently working with regional NGOs to explore ways of developing a regional or global PEPs database.