Getting the Full Picture on Public Officials: A How-To Guide for Effective Financial Disclosure


161 countries around the world have introduced financial disclosure systems. Although the rules are on the books, many practitioners struggle to implement them in their countries. Getting the Full Picture on Public Officials: A How-To Guide for Effective Financial Disclosure timely and practical guidance.

Financial disclosure, asset disclosure, income and asset declarations, wealth reporting, interest declarations—all of these mechanisms are bound by a common and simple principle: a public official must periodically submit information about his or her income, assets, liabilities, and interests.

The goal of financial disclosure systems and their continual reform is to be able to prevent, detect and prosecute, when possible, the misbehavior and corruption of public officials.

161 countries have introduced financial disclosure systems.

How many countries have financial disclosure legislation?

  • OECD high income countries: 100% of countries
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: 93% of countries
  • Europe and Central Asia: 95% of countries
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: 89% of countries
  • Asia: 73% of countries
  • Middle East and North Africa: 61% of countries

Who is required to disclose?

  • Members of parliament: in 90% of countries that have disclosure.
  • Cabinet members: 92% of countries
  • Deputy ministers: 74% of countries
  • Prosecutors and judges: in 56% of countries
  • Senior executives of state-owned enterprises (SOEs): 62% of countries

How to disclose?

  • Handwritten submission are accepted in 69% of countries.
  • Filers can submit the forms online in 38% of countries.

How many countries have verification provisions in their legal framework?

  • Globally, 74% of countries have verification in their legal framework.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: 96% of countries 
  • Middle East and North Africa: 64% of countries
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: 63% of countries
  • Globally routine checks take place in 44% of countries.
  • Checks on a non-regular basis take place in 29% of countries.

In many systems, public access complements verification.

  • Verification and public access exist in 42% of systems.
  • 32% of countries have verification, but no public access.
  • 13% of countries have public access, but no verification.
  • OECD high income countries: 97% of countries declared information is publicly available by law
  • Europe and Central Asia: 71% of countries have verification provisions
  • Asia: 55% of systems have verification provisions 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: provisions exist in 38% of countries have provisions
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: 30% of countries have provisions
  • Middle East and North Africa: 27% of countries have provisions

Although the rules are on the books, many practitioners struggle with the intricacies of the rules and how to implement them in the socioeconomic, historical and legal context of their countries.

Getting the Full Picture on Public Officials: A How-To Guide for Effective Financial Disclosure provides timely and practical guidance to practitioners.

This guide features an unprecedented collection of data accompanied by an analysis of key implementation challenges to help countries develop more effective and robust financial disclosure systems.

Unique data

  • Snapshot of the state of financial disclosure globally.
  • Based on two sets of data:
    • One examines 176 countries with an emphasis on issues of law.
    • The other examines 52 countries with an emphasis on the practice or implementation of the laws.
  • The first time detailed data on the legal framework and implementation of financial disclosure from a large number of countries has been recorded, analyzed and published.

Country experiences

  • Analyzes the lessons learned from the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative’s (StAR) work in providing technical assistance to countries around the world to strengthen their disclosure systems.
  • Identifies key challenges consistent across all regions, from Asia to the Americas, from Europe to Africa.
  • Comments on the intricacies of financial disclosure and how to implement it in the unique socioeconomic, historical and legal contexts in each country.

Each chapter looks at a fundamental question and key challenge for the effective implementation of financial disclosure regimes:

  • Why do countries embark on financial disclosure?
  • Who should file a disclosure? How often?
  • What to declare?
  • The submission process
  • Verification of information
  • Why and how to provide access to information in disclosures
  • How are disclosures used for enforcement?

Why financial disclosure matters for development? 

Information on the interests and assets of those who wield public power are a vital element of good governance and anticorruption.

Financial disclosure systems are a vital component of transparency.

The only societies that provide the necessary checks to power that are needed to underpin growth and development are those that ask their leaders to provide complete information on what they have and where their interests lie, and that are able to hold leaders to account in the event of deficiencies or omissions.

Financial information is useful for those conducting corruption and money-laundering investigations.

“We hope that the practitioners who use this book will find it to be a useful tool in guiding their decision making, and, ultimately, to help their countries build more effective systems,”  says Gloria Grandolini, Senior Director, Finance and Markets Global Practice, World Bank Group.