Parliament Wants Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) to Deal with Big Fish

Mongolian Parliament has organized an open hearing over accountability of public officers, who failed to declare accurate annual assets and incomes. The hearing was the first of its kind since the country’s anti-corruption law was enacted in 2006, and an independent anti-corruption agency was established.
Chairman of the Standing Committee on Justice B.Bat-Erdene last Wednesday heard reasons why those public servants have failed to submit declaration within legal period, February 15 of each year, and opinions of their supervising officers for why not taking accountability measures as prescribed by law: resignation, temporary suspension, and termination of employment.

At the beginning of the meeting, where more than 40 observers were present, J.Batsaikhan, an official at the monitoring and inspection department of the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC), briefed about latest entries. “Around 99 percent of total 53,016 public officers of Mongolia have submitted their assets and income declarations of last year. 21 of them had inaccurate information over savings, housing, vehicles, shares and incomes they had generated last year,” Batsaikhan said. But the authority admitted that not all of those total public officers are screened for detailed inspection.

MP Z.Enkhbold, who was at the panel, expressed his doubt that only eleven officers were present at the hearing out of total 53,016. He said more high ranking officials could have been called to this meeting.

The first public officers to speak out were G.Bolortuya, a customs inspector of Dornod province; and J.Tuyatsetseg, a tax inspector of Bayangol District Tax Office. “I was sick from year beginning until the end of February in a hospital. It is my fault that I missed the deadline to declare my assets and income. I submitted those three days later,” said G.Bolortuya.
“At that time, my mom was sick, receiving an intensive medical treatment at the hospital. I live with my mom in a ger district. I have nothing to hide from the State,” stated J.Tuyatsetseg in a trembling voice. She acknowledged her fault that she missed legal deadline. Their supervising officials: Chief Officer of the General Customs Office D.Tseveenjav, and Director General of the National Taxation Office Ts.Oyunbaatar told committee chair that Tuyatsetseg’s two month salary was cut by 20 percent, and Bolortuya was given a warning. The committee warned the higher ranking officials a strict implementation of law, not “friendly” measures over sick of leave as there is no such legal paragraphs.

MP D.Oyunkhorol, an only women member at the panel, has criticized the hearing organizers for what she called harassing small officials in low level over corruption while leaving the “big fish” to go unpunished. Her statement was applauded by observers, and ordinary citizens. Some MPs nodded that until the “big fish” were taken to court and punished, they would continue to doubt the IAAC’s independent status. In a question where are “big fish”, anti-corruption agency had not commented.

Ts.Janlav, Governor of Dornod province, was the next person to describe why he did not declare four housings that his spouse owns, and significant shares of Dornod JSC.

As a former private business owner, Janlav said, “My family used to own 270,000 shares of Dornod JSC. I declared those in 2007 declaration. We have sold them in 2007. No longer necessary to declare, I think”. He also declared that he has sold two-storey private house he used to own, and transferred ownership of four housings to his spouse, who also work for public sector and declared in hers separately.

L.Amgalan, Governor of Bayangol District of Ulaanbaatar, said she had misunderstandings how to fill the declaration form. She said she had no intention to hide her properties as she did not know she had to declare her private apartment in Bayangol District. “I understood a form question ‘properties’ as business premises for industrial or service use, not for residence purpose,” Amgalan said. She said that she has transferred Delgerekh LLC to her relative after assumed to public job. “But due to the company chapter has not been rewritten yet, I did not know I was still listed as one of the founders,” added Amgalan, who also said she did not know there were “leftover” cash balance in her Golomt Bank savings account being counted.

Ch.Khurelbaatar, a chief officer of the Cabinet Secretariat Office, who was called to the hearing on behalf of former Prime Minister S.Bayar as supervising officer of provincial governor; and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar G.Munkhbayar as supervising officer of district governor, said that the prime minister and city mayor are no “legally capable” to interfere decision of local legislative bodies who usually make “friendly” conclusion in favor of their governors. Committee chair criticized the local level legislative bodies have no will to fight against corruption.

In following, B.Khurts, an officer of the National Security Council, explained the reasons why he did not declare two private businesses, housings and vehicle that his father bought under his name. R.Bat-Erdene, Director General of MIAT Mongolian Airline, commented 27 cattle he had to declare “Some had already died in the recent dzud disaster, and rest of others has been sold. No animal is left”.

S.Tsetsgee, Director of the Capital City Customs Office, told the Committee Chair Bat-Erdene in shaking voice that she has been working for public sector for the last 27 years, and has “no will” to hide information. The IAAC charged her hiding information about private businesses of her family members. D.Tseveenjav, Director of the General Customs Office, said that salary of Tsetsgee, who repeatedly missed the legal deadline in 2006 and 2007, has been cut by 30 percent, and her ranking was lowered down for one year.

The three hours long open hearing, that was televised nationwide, concluded that the recommendation by IAAC about strict implementation of law has often been “blurred” at higher level of implicated public officers.
source: The UB Post-Leading English News


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