The use of ‘asset declaration’/wealth disclosure is a powerful preventive tool to help public officials avoid unwarranted accusations of conflicts of interest and illicit wealth accumulation. It is also used to increase the confidence level of the general public in their leaders and those occupying positions that are prone to conflict of interest and the use of discretionary power.
In fulfillment of the Article 90(c) mandate of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, the June 20, 2014, “ACT OF LEGISLATURE PRESCRIBING A NATIONAL CODE OF CONDUCT FOR ALL PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA” was enacted. The National Code of Conduct, in Part 10, provides for the Declaration and Registration of Personal Interests, Assets and Performance/Financial Bonds by all public officials and employees of government. The NCoC specifically states under 10.2 Repository and Contents of Declaration, inter alia, “…All such declarations shall be accessible to both the public employer and the general public upon a court order; as well as to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for investigative purposes. …”. Hence, the ongoing Asset Declaration and Verification exercises initiated by the LACC are in fulfillment of her constitutional duties to ensure accountability and transparency in public governance.
Asset declaration by public officials and employees of government form the basis for engaging with declarants. Whereas the verification process is a process of corroboration items listed against actuality. Indications of preponderance of discrepancies and cloudiness of declarations may warrant administrative punishment or gravitate to full-scale investigation and subsequent prosecution, as the case may be, pursuant to Part 10.3 Sanctions for False Declaration of the NCoC and PART IV – POWERS OF THE COMMISSION of the LACC Act.
Public officials’ declarations have become a part of the global standard that is embodied in the United Nations Convention against Corruption. In Liberia, Assets Declaration and Verification are considered as key components in the fight against corruption. These processes are preventive tools which are useful in helping to minimize corruption and to develop a basis by which officials acquiring wealth can have their income monitored against illicit wealth accumulation.