Election commission wants access to bank secrets

Russian Election Commission wants to keep an eye on candidates’ wealth
Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) wants the right to officially request information from banks on election candidates' accounts. The lower house - State Duma – does not oppose the move.

The issue was raised at a commission meeting on Wednesday, reports Kommersant daily. The CEC Secretary Nikolay Konkin noted that while candidates do disclose their assets, there are problems with actually verifying the information.

Under the law, to take part in elections, candidates are obliged to give the CEC information about their income, property and bank savings. However, banks only share information “within the bounds of constructive cooperation” – in other words, voluntarily.

“We have asked the government to determine a body that the CEC could appeal to in order to check the information,” Konkin told the paper. However, since there is no federal body that is allowed to monitor bank accounts, the CEC wants the State Duma to simply include it on the list of organizations that have a right to make inquiries regarding the bank accounts of potential state officials.

Back in April, as part of counter-corruption measures, President Dmitry Medvedev suggested amendments to the law that would entitle heads of state bodies to check data on the property of civil servants, as well as candidates for state posts. Under the bill – that was approved by the Sate Duma in its first reading – banks would have no right to impede such checkups.

According to First Deputy Chairman of the Duma committee on constitutional legislation Aleksandr Moskalets, if a citizen wants to take part in parliamentary elections, one should understand that their financial information will be examined. The MP believes that there would be nothing wrong if the CEC could perform such inspections.

The point of the whole thing is not that clear though. Even if the CEC discovers that a candidate submitted incorrect information, it would only be able to make the public aware of that by publishing these details, a member of the commission, Elena Dubrovina told he paper.

Moreover, candidates can still transfer their savings abroad, as no one will be able to check their foreign bank accounts.

Yet another practice widely used by state servants is to simply use relatives to register accounts in their names.