Mongolian law prohibits certain activities by public officials, while other activities are restricted. These prohibitions and restrictions are intended to prevent conflicts of interest in public service and to eliminate opportunities for bribery and other forms of corruption. However, even in the face of legal prohibitions and restrictions, sometimes officials will in communications with our clients suggest “options” or “solutions” that amount to barely disguised violations of these laws. Foreign invested enterprises in Mongolia should “keep an eye out” for these kinds of activities so they are not caught up in an illegal scheme.
Mongolian public officials are prohibited from disclosing in a manner not related to their official duties, information that has been acquired via official capacity. Unfortunately, violations of this prohibition are widespread as politicians and unelected officers will often seek to share or trade in private information gained through their position of privilege. Officials will seek to use this information to further their own interests, or to spread damaging propaganda about opponents.
Public officials are also prohibited from utilizing their official position to issue a decision, or to control, supervise, inquire or impose liability on another for the private purposes of themselves or their friends and family. They are also prohibited from using their official position to put pressure or influence on others. While this is not as common as the information sharing described above, one would not be surprised when encountering an official who seeks to wield their power in this way.
An official is prohibited from using the power of public office in any kind of advertising, except in connection with their official duties, and where participation is in favor of activities in benefit of the society.
Public officials are further prohibited from utilizing public service to represent their own private interests, or those of other individuals, organizations, or companies they are directly or indirectly associated with. Even so, many members of parliament are successful in business and continue ot be involved with a private business. For many a primary reason to become a member of parliament is to enhance or extend to their business opportunities and income. Parliamentarians have been known to introduce new laws and regulations which are beneficial to their private business or their personal interests.
Officials are prohibited from accepting any payment or supplementary payment, or gifts in connection with the performance of their official duties, however, this is another common violation which is often performed discretely.
With regard to an official’s accepting a gift, there is a legal obligation for an official to file a written report within 30 days in the event the value of a one-time gift or service received exceeds the equivalent of that official’s salary for one month, or where the value of gifts received from a single source in the course of one year exceeds the equivalent of that official’s salary over three months. If the value of a gift or service received by an official is in excess of that official’s salary over 6 months, the gifted items shall become the property of the State. The official can accept or redeem these gifts only by way of paying the government the value in excess of the official’s six month total salary.
This is a strange arrangement per western standards as a gift of 6 months total salary may still be a substantial amount. Keep in mind that while a gift of this nature may be legal in Mongolia, foreign companies and individuals may still be subject to anti-corruption laws in their home country, such as FCPA in USA.
Public officials are further prohibited from participating in the business of a company or serving in a management role of a company. Additionally, officials are subject to a two year prohibition on being a shareholder, stockholder or a partner in a legal entity for which the official had been involved decision making on awarding such company government procurement contracts, allocation of central government, provincial or municipal funding, or where the public official had exercised official supervision or control over such company in connection with the official’s public duties.
This is only an introduction to official prohibitions on actions of public office holders. Future blogs will continue our review.