Friday,  Jun 22, 2018,16:44 (GMT+7) 0 0
Anti-corruption draft law seen awash with loopholes
By Lan Nhi
Wednesday,  Jun 13, 2018,20:15 (GMT+7)

Anti-corruption draft law seen awash with loopholes

By Lan Nhi

A NA deputy speaks at the discussion session today, June 13 - PHOTO: TTXVN

HANOI – Many National Assembly (NA) deputies today, June 13, pointed out numerous loopholes and contradictions in the draft law on corruption prevention and fighting, especially in provisions to deal with corruption in the private sector and assets whose origin cannot be verified.

The draft law, due to be passed at this NA sitting, contains numerous anti-corruption measures, but the most controversial points as challenged by NA deputies concern measures to ward off irregularities in the private sector as well as the asymmetric solutions to deal with fishy assets. Deputies say such provisions may be abused by authorities in meddling in private businesses on one hand, and give corrupt officials a chance to legalize illegally-amassed assets on the other.

Private sector under threat

Many deputies at the plenary discussion session today said as the scope of the anti-corruption law is expanded into the private sector for the first time, many provisions contained therein are unenforceable, and may lead to abuse of the law by authorities to harass enterprises.

The draft law states that some 1,800 companies and 128 credit organizations outside the State sector will be subject to the law. Authorities can launch inspections into such entities to pursue traces of corruption.

Deputy Be Minh Duc of Cao Bang Province said that allowing competent agencies to launch inspections as stated in the draft without an efficient oversight mechanism will lead to abuse of powers or risk criminalizing business relations, hindering normal business at enterprises.

Therefore, the draft law should narrow down the scope of inspections at private enterprises, and bring out specific rules on the basis, processes and procedures for launching such inspections.

Deputy Nguyen Thi Thuy of Bac Kan Province, who is also a standing member of the NA Justice Committee, challenged the regulations on asset declaration in the private sector, saying such rules go against the prevailing Inspection Law as well as international conventions.

The draft law specifies that the private sector has to refer to prevailing regulations on asset declarations for civil servants and State officials to issue their own rules on asset declarations for their executives. Under such rules, executives at such enterprises have to declare assets of their own as well as of their relatives including wives and children.

In case their assets increase by VND300 million in any given year, these people will have to make full explanations on the asset origin, similar to what applies to State officials. “It is quite illogical when applying the same rules to two different types of subject,” said Thuy, adding such rules only prove right to State officials who are entrusted with powers and public resources.

In addition, it is unworkable for business executives who are foreigners working at such enterprises, she said.

“If foreign executives are suspected to lie about their assets, will the enterprises dispatch inspectors overseas to verify their properties?” pondered Thuy. “Or is it possible to verify assets of their relatives abroad if the laws in such countries disallow such inspections?”

She added that many countries also have anti-corruption laws governing the private sector, but there are no regulations forcing private executives or their relatives to declare assets. Even the United Nations Convention against Corruption also does not specify such rules towards enterprises.

Taxing or confiscating unverified assets

The draft law provides for imposing a high tax of 45% on assets whose origin cannot be verified, but deputies said the approach was not right or even unlawful.

Deputy Nguyen Ngoc Phuong of Quang Binh Province said such a rule goes against the Penal Code. 

“The Penal Code regulates that those found evading tax with a sum of VND100 million or more will be subject to criminal prosecution. Therefore, is it suitable if assets uncovered during inspections to have no legal origin are subject to a 45% tax rate only?” he raised the question.

Deputy Mua A Vang of Dien Bien Province said such a rule also contradicts the Civil Code. “Article 237 of the Civil Code regulates that if assets are verified to be illegally amassed, the ownership shall be terminated,” Vang cited the civil code, suggesting that the draft law against corruption should have new provisions that allow for terminating the right to assets if the owner fails to prove the lawful origin of such assets.

With an aim to make provisions on asset clarification more enforceable, Deputy Nguyen Lan Hieu of An Giang Province suggested supplementing new regulations on declaring personal income tax records.

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