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ACRC pushes for enactment of the Act on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest...

Date
20-11-2020
Attachments
 

ACRC pushes for enactment of the Act on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in Activities of Public Officials

-ACRC plans to actively express the necessity of the enactment of the Act aimed at addressing the conflicts of interest in the performance of duties by public officials, promote the holding of public hearings through consultation with the National Assembly to form a national consensus, and secure the authority to investigate the matter in order to verify the specific facts-

 

September 22, 2020

Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission

The Republic of Korea
 

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC, Chairperson Jeon Hyun Heui) plans to actively express the necessity of the enactment of the Act on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in Activities of Public Officials (the “Act”) in order to resolve conflicts between private interests and public duties of public officials, which has recently become a social controversy, and form national consensus through holding public hearings, etc.

Considering that the enactment of the Act is urgent, the ACRC will push for the enhancement of national consensus and the facilitation of legislative discussions of the Act in the National Assembly.

First of all, the ACRC will consult with the National Assembly to hold public hearings on the Act, and actively explain the necessity of the legislation of the Act to members of the National Policy Committee, which is the competent standing committee.

In addition, the ACRC will inform the public of details of the Act by actively tapping into social network services and the media outlets easily accessible to the public, while raising people’s interest in the necessity of the legislation of the Act.

The ACRC submitted the bill on the legislation of the Act to the 21st National Assembly in June, 2020, following the early submission to the 20th National Assembly, given the urgency of the enactment of the Act, in order to enhance transparency and trust in the public office. The bill is currently pending in the National Policy Committee of the National Assembly.

The legislative bill sets eight specific standards of conduct that public officials should adhere to for preventing and managing conflict-of-interest situations in the course of official duties of public officials.

< 8 Specific Standards of Conduct to Prevent Conflicts of Interest >

① Public officials should report, avoid and withdraw if they have private interests with duty-related parties.

② Public officials should report financial transactions with duty-related parties.

③ Public officials are prohibited from doing outside activities that compromise the fairness in the performance of official duties.

④ Public officials are prohibited from using goods belonging to public institutions for private purpose and deriving private gains from such use.

⑤ Public officials are prohibited from using any confidential information obtained at work.

⑥ Public officials are prohibited from hiring family members of senior officials or of officials in charge of personnel affairs (except through open and competitive recruitment system).

⑦ Public officials are prohibited from signing a private contract with senior officials or officials in charge of contracting affairs, or their spouse, or lineal ascendants/descendants living together with them.

⑧ Senior officials should submit detailed statements of their private sector activities they performed within three years prior to their appointment or commencement of their office to the head of the agency to which they are affiliated.

 

Under the circumstances where conflicts of interest among senior officials are emerging as a social issue, the controversy continues as people are continuously criticizing for mere suspicion without specific facts being verified.

The absence of the Act aimed at preventing conflict of interest in the public office, which provides for the legal definition and concrete concept of the term “conflict of interest,” the standard for specific interpretation and the legal ground for punishment, leads to this controversy, so the only solution to this problem is expeditious enactment of the Act.

In particular, at the plenary session of the National Policy Committee of the National Assembly, which is the competent standing committee of the ACRC, held on September 21, a number of lawmakers emphasized the necessity of the enactment of the Act and called for a more active role of the ACRC to resolve conflict-of-interest problems in the public office.

In addition, many pointed out as a problem that it is difficult for the ACRC to verify the facts without cooperation from relevant institutions since the ACRC has no authority to investigate the matter for the verification of the specific facts for more accurate and fairer authoritative interpretation regarding conflict-of-interest issues.

Hence, the ACRC will make active efforts to secure the authority to do the ex officio investigation regarding conflict-of-interest matters for more accurate verification of detailed facts.

The ACRC Chairperson Jeon Hyun Heui said, “The Act on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in Activities of Public Officials, which most advanced countries including the United States already have in place, is the key instrument to foster a transparent and fair public office environment that lives up to the expectation of the people and enhance public trust therein. Therefore, we will actively cooperate with the National Assembly in order to enact the Act in a swift manner.”