Law of 2 May 2022 No. 6.699 “On Amendments to Law of 19 November 2014 No. 6.155 “On Combating Corruption” (Ley de Reforma del Decreto con Rango, Valor y Fuerza de Ley Contra la Corrupción) introduces the following amendments:
1. Asset disclosure
The Law provides for the establishment of an electronic system for gathering, storing and processing asset declarations (Declaración Jurada de Patrimonio). The functions to define the procedure of its operation and functioning are entrusted to the Controller General of the Republic of Venezuela (Contraloría General de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela – CGRBV).
Additionally, the legal act introduces the requirement to indicate only reliable information that accurately reflects the property status of the declarant in the declaration and establishes the obligation to update declarations on an annual basis for the senior officials replacing (holding) positions in:
- state and municipal bodies;
- state and municipal autonomous institutions (institutos autónomos nacionales, estadales, distritales y municipales);
- Central Bank of Venezuela (Banco Central de Venezuela – BCV);
- state universities;
- other bodies (organisations) regulated by public law;
- legal persons whose share of the authorised capital is held by the abovementioned bodies (organisations) or that were established with the participation of the latter;
- foundations, public associations or other entities established using public funds, subordinate to the abovementioned bodies (organisations) or whose budget has received contributions in the current financial year from one or several of the aforementioned bodies (organisations) amounting to 50%.
The adopted legal act toughens penalties for a number of corruption crimes. In particular, sanctions in the form of imprisonment for a period between three and six years (in the previous version, from three months to one year) are imposed for:
- intent to gain, autonomously or through an intermediary, profit, advantage or other economic benefit in exercising one’s public powers (the list of specific crimes that fall under this definition is provided in articled 91 and 92 of the Organic Law of 23 December 2010 No. 6.013 “On the Controller General of the Republic and National System of Financial Control” (Ley Orgánica De La Contraloría General De La República Y Del Sistema Nacional De Control Fiscal));
- issuance of orders to cover the works that are not or poorly executed or services that are not or poorly provided in the process of public procurement;
- acceptance of fictitious works and services or works and services which are not in compliance with the requirements applied to the quality and/or quantity indicated in the contract.
Additionally, the Law changes the penalties for violations related to the failure to comply with anti-corruption prohibition, restrictions and obligations. In particular, the penalty in the form of a fine between 100 and 1,000 units at the official exchange rate published by the BCV (in the previous version, the fine ranged between 50 and 500 units) is imposed on the persons who commit the following offences:
- failure to file the asset declaration;
- untimely submission of the asset declaration and/or documents requested to verify the information indicated in the declaration;
- obstruction of verification of asset declarations;
- submission of knowingly false information;
- failure to take corrective action with regard to the respective violations etc.
The act also extends the validity of such liability measure as suspension from work without pay from 12 to 18 months. The respective penalty can be imposed in the event that an official:
- fails to submit an asset declaration or documents requested to verify the information indicated in the declaration;
- obstructs the verification of the declaration;
- does not follow the instructions of the CGRBV concerning the suspension from work.
3. Anti-corruption training
The adopted legal act imposes the obligation to develop anti-corruption education and training programmes for officials and population as a whole on public and municipal bodies to prevent, detect and combat corruption offences related to the exercise of public functions, in particular, to the management of public resources.