On November 20, 2013, OGE’s Director, Walter M. Shaub, met
separately with anti-corruption officials from Hong Kong and Romania. In the morning Director Shaub met with Simon Peh, the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Director Shaub, Commissioner Peh, and members of each of their staffs discussed their shared commitment to promoting integrity through preventive programs. During the meeting, OGE‘s Director and the ICAC Commissioner agreed on the importance of education and outreach as a cornerstone of strong prevention programs. The ICAC prevents corruption in two main ways. The ICAC examines government departments to ensure that systems and practices are in place to deter corruption. This function, in many ways, is similar to the role of inspectors general in the U.S. Federal executive branch. The ICAC also has a strong presence in the private sector, acting as advisor and consultant in corruption-prevention strategies. OGE’s mission is focused on preventing conflicts of interest in the Federal executive branch. Through employee standards of conduct, financial disclosure, training and counseling, and oversight of agency ethics programs, OGE helps ensure that public officials do not use public office for private gain.
In the afternoon OGE’s Director met with the President, Horia Georgescu, and Vice President, Bogdan Stan, of the Romanian National Integrity Agency (ANI). The Director and ANI leadership spent much of the time discussing their approaches to financial disclosure, which both agencies use to support the unique needs of their respective programs. In Romania, the financial disclosure system is designed to detect conflicts of interests and “unjustified wealth.” If an individual reports assets or income but cannot explain how he obtained those assets or income, the ANI may investigate to determine if they were illegally obtained. In the United States, financial disclosure is primarily used to identify and remedy potential conflicts of interest. If a public official holds an asset that conflicts with the official’s government duties, the agency works with the individual to resolve the conflict before the individual may take an official act that could violate the law. For instance, the individual may be required to sell the potentially conflicting asset or recuse from government matters that pose potential ethics concerns. Though the Federal financial disclosure system in the United States is not designed to detect “unjustified wealth,” the disclosure forms can be used as evidence in Department of Justice investigations into corrupt activities such as bribery.
For more information about OGE’s international work, visit the International Activities section of our website.
Posted on December 6, 2013