Financial Disclosure

Financial and business interest disclosure refers to the system whereby one or more categories of public officials in a given country are required by law to disclose information about their assets and/or business activities. As the name indicates, there are two types of disclosure: financial and business interest (collectively referred to as “financial disclosure”).

Regarding the first type, disclosing the value of assets and liabilities, along with the amount of a public official’s income, makes it possible to detect unexplained wealth variations and illicit enrichment. Business interest disclosure focuses on activities, commitments and business connections that may compromise public officials’ impartiality in their policy decisions. To facilitate detection of potential conflicts of interest, information on the sources of such interests (as well as sources of assets and liabilities) is required.

While disclosure systems are not a recent governance development, the adoption of such provisions has truly gained momentum in the past two decades. These systems are found to be widespread across different countries and regions, and their prevalence is growing as their fight against corruption and promotion of transparency also increases.

Disclosure of high-level public officials’ interests is a powerful mechanism for two main reasons: first, it is a transparency tool that promotes public officials’ accountability, ensures government decision-making is not compromised by conflicts of interest, and aims to increase trust in public institutions; second, it is a mechanism that may provide information and evidence for the detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption.

Few mechanisms combine both the prevention and detection sides of combating corruption. This is why financial disclosure is increasingly gaining attention as a tool to improve governance and fight corruption.

Please check our International Perspectives page to find out more on financial disclosure developments in the global arena.

For more information and comments, please contact us at assetdisclosure@worldbank.org