This is Exactly the Tool we needed for Fight against Corruption: Mariam Zadoyan about criminalization of Illicit Enrichment

“Criminalization of illicit enrichment will make our officials understand that they no longer can enrich illegally at the expense of the state recourses and remain unpunished, and as a result the level of corruption in our country shall reduce as well,” Mariam Zadoyan, member of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association said.

According to her the mere introduction of the institution is not enough to solve all problems, there is still much to be done, specifically it is necessary to improve the system of declaration, etc.

The details are in the interview below:

– The Government has approved the bill on criminalization of the illicit enrichment. What will this bill give us?

According to various international bodies and courts of some countries, criminalization of illicit enrichment is an effective tool in for fight against corruption. Approximately 40 countries all over the world have already criminalized the illicit enrichment.

First of all, with the help of the project officials will understand that they can no longer become reach illegally at the expense of the recourses of the state and will not remain unpunished, and as a result of this the level of corruption will also decrease in our country.

First of all the draft will make the officials understand that they no longer can enrich illegally at the expense of the state recourses and remain unpunished, and as a result the level of corruption in our country shall reduce as well.

In addition, after some illegally enriched officials are punished, the society shall no longer have the perception that there is an atmosphere of impunity in the country, and as a result the confidence will be restored.

I would like to assure that this is exactly the tool we needed for fight against corruption. For example Russia has criminalized a lot of corruption crimes like Armenia, but has not criminalized the illegal enrichment, therefore it is in the list of the corrupted countries. It should be noted that even a country like Great Britain has decided to criminalize illicit enrichment as well.

– The draft foresees imprisonment for the term of 3-6 years. Is this a mild or severe punishment?

This punishment is neither mild nor severe. In general the international experience showed that this period is the most reasonable, although there are extreme approaches as well. For example in China the death penalty or life imprisonment is provided for corruption crimes without the right of pardon. Generally, confiscation of property should be the main sanction in case of illicit enrichment, while the imprisonment shall play a secondary role.

– Article of illicit enrichment shall apply to the officials who have a difference of 5 million AMD between their property, funds and revenues. In your opinion, is this threshold the most reasonable or shall it be lower or higher?

I agree with the choice of this threshold. Such definition of the threshold is necessary from the viewpoint of deminimisnoncuratpraetor principle according to which the law does not deal with trivial matters and quite small cases of illicit enrichment should not be considered.

– What should be done, so as the project really takes effect?

There are still a lot of things to be done in this respect. The system of declaration should be improved. We should come to a point that in general all had to submit declarations, so that it is completely impossible to register illegally gained property in the name of drivers, bodyguards or friends.

In addition, the threshold for cash turnover should also be limited for everyone from a definite level. At present it is an issue for drafted in the National Assembly, and it applies to the officials. Meanwhile for the first stage the result is quite commendable.

– Which body will be able to combat illicit enrichment best; the Special Investigation Service, an independent or a universal body?

The international experience, specifically that of Hong Kong, Singapore, Latvia, Lithuania and other countries has shown, that in general the best model for fight against corruption is the independent universal body, which in addition to investigative functions shall conduct preventive and educational functions as well.

Gevorg Tosunyan