Viet Nam News
Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, deputy director of the Government Inspectorate’s Legal Department, spoke to the newspaper Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) about proposed changes to the 2005 Anti-Corruption Law to make it more effective.
What are the proposed changes to the 2005 Law on Anti-Corruption?
The revision of the 2005 Law on Anti-Corruption will contain many new points and measures in the fight against corruption. These changes are based on the practical implementation of the 2005 Law on Anti-Corruption. But here I just want to mention two big changes.
Firstly, the adjustment scale of the law will be expanded to the non-state sector – i.e. all social organisations and enterprises. Under this change, all social organisations and enterprises have to carry out anti-corruption measures within their internal organisations and also in their relationship with other economic entities.
Secondly, it is the issue of transparency and accountability of major changes in their assets. Some foreign experts have described our 2005 Law on Anti-Corruption as “a toothless tiger” as it does not contain strong and effective measures and sanctions.
After ten years implementing the law, we deem it necessary to make some changes to the 2005 Anti-Corruption Law to make it more effective. The revised law will contain administrative and economic sanctioning measures as well as measures on illegal assets and societal measures.
In short, these measures are non-criminal, but they will be strong and effective in the fight against corruption. However, among these measures, transparency and asset accountability are the most important ones.
Under the 2005 Anti-Corruption Law, all government officials, holding positions from deputy director of a division upwards, have to declare their assets annually. But how the information is used is still hanging in the balance.
The revised law this time will not require these government officials to declare their assets annually as is written in the 2005 Law. Only three cases will have to declare their assets. These people include those promoted for the first time to the rank of government official; people who are promoted to a higher position; and people who suddenly become richer in term of both assets and money –adding a sum of over VNĐ 200 million ($9,000) to their income.
Do you think the proposed changes in the asset declarations will make the law stronger?
Under the draft law, leaders in the offices or units will be in charge of monitoring their subordinate staff. The office/unit will then be in charge of documenting their asset declarations.
Under the 2005 law there is no independent office/agency to monitor the sudden changes in the assets or income of the government officials following their declarations, nor conducting investigations into their changes.
However, under the revised law this time, there will be an article on the creation of an independent office or agency with the function of monitoring cases of big changes in assets or income. Such an agency will then be given the right to ask the government officials to clarify their changes and check if they are correct.
In case some discrepancies are detected and the government officials cannot verify them logically, the cases will then be transferred to the tax agency for further investigation. In serious cases, they will then be brought to court.
What will be the repercussions for a defendant who cannot explain why they have such a huge asset or large sum of money?
From the civil perspective, all citizens have their rights to own assets. However, whether he/she will be tried in a civil or criminal court, it will depend on the result of the investigation. If during the investigation, evidence collected showed signs of corruption, in such a case, he/she will then be tried in a criminal court.
Under the 2005 Anti-Corruption law, to recover the corrupt assets, it must go through a verdict from the court saying that the assets came as a product of corrupt acts.
Based on lessons learned over the past 10 years, it is very difficult to recover the corrupt assets. So in the revised 2005 Law on Anti-Corruption, we still refer the case to a civil court. But if evidence collected shows signs of corruption, the case can still be tried in a criminal court.
One of the guiding principles in revising the 2005 law is to help recover the corrupt asset as much as possible. Of course, we’ll hold consultation workshops with legal experts and the people in general to hear their comments and suggestions to make sure the law is of a high quality.
Will you please further explain the article on the establishment of an interim committee to investigate serious cases of corruption?
The Law on Organization of the National Assembly has an article on the setting up of an interim commission to consider all issues that have captured attention from the general public.
In the draft revision of the 2005 Anti-Corruption law, the National Assembly Standing Committee will set the time table and required procedures as well as members in the interim commission and their duties. This is a new thing, so it will require time to study.
Will you please further explain about the concept of serious and complicated issues that have captured the general public’s attention?
In my own opinion, the concept of serious and complicated issued that have captured the general public’s attention should be based on the following factors: the level of damage and consequences on the state budget or the people’s rights; cases relating to senior government officials; or cases relating to many localities, government offices and individuals and others.
The draft Revised Law on Anti-Corruption has 10 Chapters with 120 articles. It is expected to be presented to the Government in September 2016 and the full house meeting of the National Assembly in October, 2016._VNS