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Bulgaria to Lift Bank Secrect in Conflict of Interest Cases.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) has presented a set of amendments to the Conflict of Interest Act.

BSP will initiate legal amendments allowing the Commission on Prevention and Ascertainment of Conflict of Interest (CPACI) to ask court to lift banking secrecy in an inspection of public office-holders.

The proposed set of amendments to the Conflict of Interest Act were presented Monday by Maya Manolova, socialist MP and Deputy Parliament Speaker, and Kiril Dobrev, socialist MP and Chair of the inquiry committee working on the case of the notorious notebook of former CPACI Chair Filip Zlatanov.

The changes envisage a substantial decrease in the fines for violating the Conflict of Interest Act and failing to observe the deadlines, according to reports of Sega daily.

Under the current regime, the fine for failure to submit a conflict of interest declaration within the statutory deadline is BGN 1000 a 3000, and in the case of a repeat offense a BGN 3000 a 5000.

Under the proposal of Manolova and Dobrev, the fine is to be reduced to BGN 200 a 2000 and BGN 1000 a 3000 in the case of a repeat offense.

The fine for failing to declare private interest in the exercise of concrete powers is also to be reduced, down from the current BGN 7000 a 10A 000 to BGN 1000 a 3000.

Dobrev pointed out that he would propose a differentiated rate of one salary of the fine between the first and second reading of the bill, stressing that the Conflict of Interest Act also applied to directors of village schools, whose salaries were nothing like that of MPs or ministers.

Dobrev explained that he would also propose that each of the five members of CPACI declare that they have no personal interest in each concrete case and that they had not been subject to political pressure over it.

He made clear that both of his ideas had not been backed by Manolova.

Manolova, as cited by investor.bg, informed that the changes expanded the scope of people covered by the Conflict of Interest Act.

She insisted that the Conflict of Interest Act had to include all officials handling public money, including EU funds.

She said that the proposed set of amendments also envisaged shorter deadlines for the completion of administrative and court proceedings over conflict of interest.

Manolova insisted that CPACI had to start issuing pronouncement within short and clearly defined deadlines.

She also argued that CPACI had to start functioning as a collective body, adding that the Chair was not supposed to take decisions single-handedly.

The socialist MPs also insisted that the legal changes had to introduce a random principle of distribution of cases at CPACI.

Manolova also insisted on clear rules and procedures for nominating CPACI members.

She drew attention to the importance of clear rules for the election of CPACI members from all quotas - Parliament, government and President.

Manolova emphasized that CPACI was functioning with a downsized staff after the resignation of two members and the remaining three members were to be rotated soon.

"In a few weeks time, this commission will be left without any members, which is why we are in a hurry about the changes," she explained.
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Publication:Sofia News Agency
Date:Dec 9, 2013
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