The palace of the former head of the traffic police of the Stavropol Territory, Alexei Safonov, who is suspected of a large bribe by the investigation, is assigned to his concubine, which has thundered all over the world. Therefore, in the declaration of income and property, which Mr. Safonov, as an official of a rather high rank, filed annually, there was no palace. The question arises: why all these declarations at all, if they do not give a more or less realistic idea of the level of well-being of officials, law enforcement officers and deputies?
We talked about this with an expert in the field of combating corruption, professor of the Free University Elena PANFILOVA.
Anti-corruption legislation requires senior officials, officials and law enforcement officers, starting from certain positions, to annually submit detailed information on cash income, its sources, securities, shareholdings and shares in the authorized capital of various companies and banks, real estate (and that owned, and the one that is rented or free to use), as well as vehicles. Similar information must be provided about your legal spouses and minor children. The general public is presented with only extremely generalized data: we see only the total amount of cash income for the year, without indicating their sources, only the area of a plot, house or apartment and the country of their location are reported about real estate, and we do not know at all about the shareholdings and the number of accounts nothing.
– When another criminal case is initiated against another governor or law enforcement officer, we learn that what is presented in the declarations is just the tip of the iceberg, and real estate and companies are legally registered with the matchmaker, brother, grandfather, father, mistress. Does it make sense to continue to transfer tons of paper to this fictitious anti-corruption measure?
– There is a meaning, and it does not disappear from all these stories. But the declaration consists of three elements: the submission of declarations to the inspection authorities, the publication of the declarations and the verification of the declarations. In the system as it has developed since 2008-2009, the first and second elements work: declarations are submitted, they are published. But the third element, the quality check, obviously did not work. And it is not surprising, because during all this time we have not heard anything about real specialists appearing in large numbers in state bodies who know what to look for, how to check these declarations. And it also did not work, I think, partly due to the fact that there is no political will to reveal something en masse.
Of course, in many other countries, citizens who are obliged to submit declarations try to cheat, remove, hide, someone “forgets” something. So in Russia, too, they quite cheerfully learned to rewrite property on relatives, adult children, on common-law wives and girlfriends … But here we return to the first thesis: there is nothing new in such a desire to hide one’s property from declaring, but if there is a desire and ability to look for and check everything is possible. And recent stories show that as soon as they want, they find it right away.
– And the information presented to the general public from the declarations is everywhere so stingy and vague?
– Even in this emasculated data, you can find a lot, as journalistic investigations show. But the fact that with the adoption of anti-corruption legislation a significant part of the information that should have been open and published became closed is absolutely true … As for the world experience, in different countries everything is different. Somewhere data are published in about the same volume as in Russia, but upon request, any voter can receive more detailed information about his deputy. In Germany, for example. And such a mechanism could work for us, if there was interest. But we, on the one hand, have the UN Convention against Corruption, which we have signed and ratified and which must be implemented, and on the other hand, we have a desire to implement it in such a way that no one really learns anything.
– Recently it was reported that State Duma deputy Lev Kovpak, his wife and father had problems with the law and property was arrested, but from the declarations of this deputy it follows that he is officially alone: there is no information about his wife’s income and property. After the introduction of the ban on the possession of foreign accounts, the number of single deputies in general increased significantly (now about 30% of the State Duma have neither wives nor husbands). In this sense, are we also unoriginal?
– As soon as the story with the declaration of spouses appeared, very quickly many stopped trusting even adult children and began to get divorced, live in a civil marriage. And not only the deputies – there are also enough of them among the officials. But in general, there are norms in international law that allow, when checking declarations, to check divorced spouses, if the time since the divorce does not exceed about a year, about three years. Law enforcers around the world know very well about this divorce trick. There is an international organization FATF (the Group for the Development of Financial Measures to Combat Money Laundering, develops global standards for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. – “MK”), and, according to its recommendations, the control of money laundering, which may be related to public divorced spouses are subject to officials.
– But Russia is also a member of the FATF – since 2003!
– Accordingly, our Rosfinmonitoring should also theoretically consider divorced spouses as subjects of verification. In this case, not so much on the subject of corruption as on the subject of laundering, but, as you know, corruption and laundering go hand in hand …
Declaration of mass divorce