If in the US it becomes clear that the judges and the prosecutors have received a significant amount of donations, there will be a big scandal,” Mr. Peter J. Ainsworth, Senior Anti-Corruption Counsel at U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, stated and added that only such fact may be enough to launch an investigation. Iravaban.net talked to Mr. P. J. Ainsworth on the fight against corruption.
Mr. Ainsworth, you stated that a big scandal will emerge in case there is a publication on large donations. And what will follow that scandal?
First of all the law prohibits giving such gifts. After the Watergate case, some reforms took place (the political scandal in the USA in 1972-1974: the staff of the democrat Richard Nixon had carried out illegal wiretapping in the democrats’ headquarters located at the Watergate office complex, and due to which Nixon won the presidential election. But the discovery of the case led to the president’s resignation). We have laws prohibiting to receive such gifts, in particular it refers to the Criminal Code. It is clearly mentioned that those officials who do not declare such gift and its amount, are also punished.
Naturally, an investigation would open in the USA, the concrete details of the case would be discovered and it would be stated that it formed a part of a corrupted activity. The official would al least lose his job if it was found out that he had received significant amount of money. If he is a representative of the executive power of the USA or another official, he would at least lose his job. And I must note that our legislation is quite strict in connection with gifts.
In general, I want to mention that those cases that were connected with the realization of such an activity by judges, would be studied. In case of prosecutors or other representatives of the executive power (prosecutors represent the executive power) the appropriate body would undertake that case and would study the declarations presented by that official.
The key message is that a process would begin, there would be some consequences. Of course there are some exceptions in relation to the gifts given to the family members.
You stated that corruption exists in the USA as well. What types of corruption offences are common there? For example in Armenia corruption is mainly associated with bribery.
There is certain bribery in the USA as well. Recently we tried to concentrate on the cases of bribery concerned with the companies of US-based stock exchanges. And reference is made to all the bribes that those companies have paid all over the world.
In such cases we mainly focused on those that are related to money laundering, i.e. they manage to buy a property in the US due to the assets received from illegal activities. And naturally such kind of cases are considered in both civil and criminal courts.
And where are the cases of bribery more common: among the high ranking officials or lower-rank officials?
It will be fair to state that such cases have occurred in all the levels. And I must note that the Department of Justice has considered cases referring both to high-ranking officials and the lower-rank officials of.
I think the main challenge in the US, maybe also all over the world, is to treat equally the offences committed by high-ranking and lower-rank officials.
Which institutions operate in the US to fight the corruption?
I can give a simple answer. We have The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that together with the Department of Justice examines specific cases on country, federal and state levels.
In this regard the free media plays an important role as it has an opportunity to publicize corruption cases.
Criminalization of illicit enrichment in Armenia is currently the issue under consideration in Armenia. How is this issue regulated in the US?
The issue is solved differently in different countries. We have a criminal code prohibiting to present false data in the financial declarations. Consequently, if I receive аan expensive car and do not declare it (naturally, I cannot forget about the Mercedes Benz parked in the garage), I can be dismissed. These provisions of our criminal code reflect the legislative provisions on illicit enrichment of different countries. Those provisions have different mechanisms and have slightly different formulations.
Principally, all the countries should develop such mechanisms that are more specific to their legal system. The objective is the same: to curb corruption in the society.”
Notably, touching upon the issues of the income and assets of officials regularly, Iravaban.net has also published materials on receiving large-scale gifts by the officials of the judicial power, prosecutors and other officials.
Interview: Astghik Karapetyan
Photos: Gevorg Tosunyan
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