Law of 30 December 2022 No. 232-3 “On Amending the Laws on the Fight against Corruption” introduces, in particular, the following amendments:
1. Declaration of assets.
The Law establishes the categories of assets that are not subject to anti-corruption disclosure, including:
- money owned by declarants, including those on bank accounts and/or deposits in the banks of the Republic of Belarus (including interests), facts of their issuance, as well as transfers from the accounts (deposits) in the banks of other countries to the banks of the Republic of Belarus;
- digital signs (tokens);
- revenues from the a partial refund of the payment for goods, works, services (hereinafter, GWS) with the use of bank payment cards, remote banking services systems (cash back and the like);
- GWS received in the framework of advertising campaigns and promotional games, if the conditions of their conduct do not provide any information on the recipients of these GWS, as well as the money and/or GWS received in the framework of advertising campaigns, promotional games or promotions, if the amount of money and/or the cost of these GWS do not exceed 40 basic units (1,480 BYN or roughly 600 USD) as of the date of their receipt;
- revenues from bonus, marketing and/or other similar programmes;
- discounts on the price (rate) of the GWS;
- money paid (reimbursed) when on business trips, advanced training, retraining, professional preparation and internship, including the money paid (reimbursed) by the host;
- commercial loans;
- bonds, including coupon or interest from them, bills and other securities owed by declarants, except for the shares value of which exceeds 15,000 basic units (555,000 BYN or around 222,000 USD) as of the date of their acquisition;
- gifts the value (cost) of each of which does not exceed 250 basic units (9,250 BYN or roughly 3,700 USD) as of the date of receipt of the gift;
- revenues from the alienation for compensation of the property the value of which does not exceed 40 basic units (1,480 BYN or approximately 600 USD) as of the date of its alienation.
The legal act also expands the rights of declarants by entitling them to:
- have a compensation (redress) of the damage inflicted by a failure to fulfill or improper fulfillment of professional (employment) duties by the officials responsible for collecting and processing income and property declarations;
- free receipt of information on the outcome of verifications of income and property declarations.
Moreover, the Law changes the conditions for holding individuals liable for submitting incomplete and/or false information in declarations: from now on, declarants will not be held disciplinary liable in the following cases:
- if they fail to indicate the information on certain income provided that the amount of the income which is not reflected in the declaration does not exceed 20 per cent (10 per cent in the previous version) of the total amount of the income subject to disclosure;
- if they provide incomplete information on the amount of certain income given that the amount of the income which is incorrectly indicated in the declaration differs from the actual amount of the income subject to disclosure by no more than 20 per cent;
- if they indicate incorrect information on the value of property (property ownership interest) in the event that its value indicated in the declaration differs from its actual value by no more than 20 per cent (10 per cent in the previous version);
- if they indicate inaccurate information on the date of acquisition of property, property ownership interest;
- if they indicate false information on the area of land plots, capital construction facilities (buildings, constructions), isolated premises, parking spaces.
Additionally, the Law provides for a number of measures aimed at improving the mechanism for regulating the receipt of gifts by officials.
Specifically, it introduces the following definitions:
- the gift received in the course of a protocol or other formal event means the property received by officials or individuals equated to them (hereinafter, officials) in the course of a protocol or other formal event from natural or legal persons, including though a third person;
- a protocol or other formal event is an event the holding of which is provided for by the law, procedures, rules, regulations, decisions of public bodies and other organisations the participation in which is related to the fulfillment of professional (employment) duties by officials or is due to the fulfillment of oral or written instructions of the head of public bodies, other organisations where officials serve (are employed).
In this context, the gifts received in the course of protocol or other formal events are admissible if:
- the value of each of them is not superior to 20 basic units (740 BYN or around 300 USD) as of the date of receipt of the gift (previously, the value of admissible gifts amounted to five basic units (185 BYN or 74 USD));
- the gift is flowers;
- the official acquires property due to the fulfillment of his/her official (work) duties about which he/she informs the public body, other entity where he/she serves (is employed) and subsequently gives it in the place of his/her service (work);
- in other cases provided for by the law.
The procedure for consigning, keeping records, storing, defining the value and selling gifts received by officials, their spouses, close relatives and in-laws will be defined by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.
3. Other restrictions and prohibitions.
Under the Law, the prohibition to work together for spouses, close relatives (parents, children, adopters, adopted, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren) or in-laws (parents, children, adopters, adopted, siblings of the spouse) in the case of their direct subordination or supervision of one to/by the other is now applicable to the head (deputies), chief accountant (deputies) and cashier of the organisations at least 50 per cent of shares of which are owned by the State and/or their administrative and territorial units (separate divisions).
Also, the legal act envisages that a number of anti-corruption standards, including the restriction to receive gifts and the prohibition to travel at the expenses of the natural and (or) legal persons the relations with whom concern the professional (employment) activity of the official are now applicable to the spouse, close relatives and in-laws of the official as well regardless of the place of their residence and the their maintenance of a common household (previously, these requirements concerned only the persons sharing the same residential area with the official and maintaining a common household with the total or partial pooling and spending of money and other property).
4. Forfeiture of illicitly acquired assets.
The Law also changes the grounds for forfeiting illicitly acquired property and/or the cost of illicitly received works, services: previously, it was the acquisition of assets in violation of the anti-corruption legislation that served as the ground for forfeiture; the Law now stipulates that it is the fact of commission of a corruption offence and/or the acquisition of money or other property by the official which are proceeds of the offence that constitutes the ground for forfeiture.
5. Functions of anti-corruption bodies.
Finally, the Law entitles the bodies responsible for combating corruption to inform, within their powers, the public bodies and organisations about the detected corruption offences committed by their servants (employees), including the highest authorities: the Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Belarus (if offences are committed by the holders of the positions included in the staff register of the Head of State of the Republic of Belarus), Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus, the House of Representatives, the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus etc.
A number of provisions of the Law, including those on asset disclosure, enter into force on 1 March 2023, while the others take effect upon the publication of the Law.