Legal Settlement of the Part-time Associates’ Status in the National Assembly and Conflict of Interest Prevention
19/06/2018

Subject: Exertion of parliamentary control over the activity of the Committee for Counteracting Corruption and for Confiscating the Illegally Acquired Property (Bulgarian abbreviation: KPKONPI)

TO MRS. TSVETA KARAYANCHEVA

CHAIRWOMAN OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA

 

Copy to:

  1. DANAIL KIRILOV

CHAIRMAN OF THE LEGAL ISSUES COMMITTEE

 

  1. BORIS YACHEV

CHAIRMAN OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION, CONFLICT OF INTERESTS AND PARLIAMENTARY ETHICS COMMITTEE 

 

 

  1. ANTON KUTEV

CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE FOR THE INTERACTION WITH NGOS AND THE CITIZENS’ PETITIONS

 

 

S T A N D

 

FROM THE “ANTI-CORRUPTION FUND“ FOUNDATION

Represented by Miroslava Petrova – director

Address: Sofia 1000, 71, “Knyaz Boris” Str., office 2

 

 

DEAR MRS. KARAYANCHEVA,

The “Anti-Corruption Fund“ (ACF) foundation works in the interest of the civil society and in cooperation with justice with the purpose of impeding and investigating the corruption on all levels in the country and the high-level corruption. In our capacity of a non-governmental organization, we carry out inspection and analysis of accessible sources and documents in order to assist the disclosure of corruptive activities and misuse of power. ACF supports the efforts towards counteracting corruption, including through improving the legislative and the institutional framework.

  1. Regarding the practice of filing signals

Based on our experience with filing signals addressed to KPKONPI, we have found that the legal requirement (pursuant to Art. 48, Par. 1, item 1 of the Law on Counteracting Corruption and on Confiscating the Illegally Acquired Property, Bulgarian abbreviation: ZPKONPI) for indicating the full name (three names) and the personal Bulgarian Identification Number of the person who files the signal, is an excessively strict requirement, which prevents people from the potential filing of the relevant signal. The requirement concerning the personal identification number of the given citizen appears to exceed the strictness of the one envisaged by the procedure legislation concerning the lodging of signals or petitions, which mark the beginning of a certain court trial. In practice, this means that the civil organizations (identified through a name, a unified identification code, and office address) cannot file signals because the three names and the personal identification number of the given representative of the organization are always required. In essence, it turns out that the legal requirement for a person to indicate his/her personal identification number may be used for blocking the opportunity for filing signals. In this regard, ACF deems that the requirement for declaring personal identification number in the signals filed has to be revoked, and the respective authorities have to provide the civil organizations (carrying out activity involving the exertion of civil control over the institutions) with the explicit opportunity to file signals.

ZPKONPI contains a requirement (in Art. 48, Par. 1, item 3) for the lodged signal to include specific data regarding the claimed violation, including the place/location and the timing/period of the violation carried out, a description of the deed, and other circumstances, which it was committed under. This imperative requirement, on one hand, is a kind of a guarantee against misuse associated with the filing of signals, but, on the other hand, it imposes quite high standards on the citizens for providing entirely specific information regarding all the main aspects of the claimed violation. This system already leads to formalism upon assessing the admissibility of the signals, and it has caused the termination of certain proceedings (the closed Committee for Preventing and Ascertaining Conflicts of Interest /Bulgarian abbreviation: KPUKI/ used to have the same practice). This also means that, upon the execution of civil monitoring and the disclosure of any discrepancy between what was declared and the property owned (used) by the individual, or in case of an alleged conflict of interest, a signal like that would be neither admitted, nor effectively reviewed without the provision of an overall description of the mechanism of committing the specific corruption deed. This results in burdening the signal-lodger with proving facts, links, and circumstances, which, in principle, are not public, or the access to them is highly restricted or impeded. Citizens should not be expected to carry out the main part of the work on collecting data and evidence for a violation committed, and the organ should not have a passive position of an arbiter with respect to the admissibility or the sufficiency of the presented facts. It is exactly the organ that has to be the active party in the performance of the researching, operational investigative, or analytical assessing activity, and the citizens should only indicate the problem or discrepancy they have encountered. The practice applied so far leads to lack of efficiency and to multiple terminated proceedings as early as the admissibility stage.

  1. Public accountability and parliamentary control upon the activity of KPKONPI

According to the stipulations of the law, the National Assembly exerts control over the activity of the Committee, and the members of the Committee are obliged, when invited, to appear at the National Assembly and to provide the requested information (Art. 17 ZPKONPI). This is a mechanism, ensuring public accountability and control, which has not been used so far. At the same time, with regard to 2 signals filed by ACF, which contained serious data on an existing conflict of interest, or a failure to perform the duty of declaring a change in the circumstances, KPKONPI closed the proceedings via act, which had not ascertained any conflict of interest.

The first lawsuit was initiated on the grounds of a signal from the beginning of 2018 and concerned the member of the parliament V. Siderov, who (for more than three months) failed to declare a change in the circumstances in his property and interests declaration (he had become a founder and a partner in a company with a majority share), although he was obliged to do so. Despite the fact that the organ ascertained Siderov’s culpable failure to perform his legal duties, the member of the parliament was not sanctioned, and the proceedings were terminated.[1]

The second lawsuit was initiated on the basis of a signal from the end of 2017 concerning a deputy mayor and a person affiliated with him (his sister), an employee of the municipality. The deputy mayor was charged with failure to perform his legal obligation to declare his private interest, and with exerted authoritative right. The organ confirmed ACF’s conclusion regarding the authoritative right exerted by the deputy mayor with regard to his sister – a head of a department in the municipal administration. He had appointed her a chairman of a committee for the implementation of a public contract, and at the same time she was a project manager of the project in the municipality, with regard to which the public contract was being implemented. Nevertheless, no conflict of interest has been detected.[2]

In addition, we would like to focus your attention on the fact that KPKONPI is quite selective with regard to the public announcement of information concerning its activity on particular proceedings. In the case of the filed signal /regarding a conflict of interest/ against the member of the parliament D. Peevski in relation to exerted legislative initiative,[3] the KPKONPI chairman publicly announced the results of the inspection, which were favourable to the inspected individual. Thus the organ joined the campaign for imposing on the public a positive media image of Peevski, and we consider this inadmissible.[4]

In conclusion, we suggest that parliamentary control is exerted upon the activity of KPKONPI in relation to the points raised, pursuant to Art. 17 of ZPKONPI. Please notify us of the results as soon as the procedure is over.

 

Respectfully,

                                                                       

MIROSLAVA PETROVA

                                                                       

   ____________________

     /Manager/

[1] KPKONPI – Resolution for terminating the proceedings no. РП-809-18-026/ 12 April 2018

[2] KPKONPI – Resolution no. РС – 214-17-003/ 28 February 2018

[3] KPKONPI – Resolution no. РС – 055-18-023/ 8 June 2018

[4] The KPKONPI chairman announced in a media statement: “When we square accounts, Peevski is either the most inspected and “clean” person, or he has very good lawyers and accountants… This individual has paid enormous taxes. He is probably among the biggest taxpayers of this country.” – http://old.segabg.com/article.php?id=909072