The Sultanate of Oman recently ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (the “UN Convention”) and consequently issued Royal Decree 64/2013 as the endorsement of the UN Convention. The ratification is in furtherance of the Sultanate’s decision to develop coordinated anti-corruption policies.
The UN Convention aims to promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption; to promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of and fight against corruption; and to promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.
This article sets out:
- the existing legislation to prevent corruption; and
- the measures to be adopted by the Government in its public sector, private sector and the judiciary to prevent corruption in accordance with the guidelines specified in the UN Convention.
The Sultanate has the following legislation in place to deal with corruption in public and private sectors:
- The Law for the Protection of Public Funds and Avoidance of Conflicts of Interest (the “Anti-Corruption Law”) (promulgated by Royal Decree 112/2011); and
- The Omani Penal Code (promulgated by Royal Decree 7/1974).
The Omani Penal Code is the other key legislation which defines bribery and targets corruption in the private sector. Provisions of the Omani Penal Code apply to employees of private sector companies. Bribery is listed as a misdemeanor in the Penal Code and is punishable by penalties of fines and/or apprehension.
The UN Convention will supplement the above legislations and, going forward the Government may amend the Anti-Corruption Law to bring it in line with the UN Convention or a new law may come into force which will implement the principles set out in the UN Convention.
Applicability of UN Convention
The UN Convention not only sets out the measures that should be adopted to fight corruption in the public sector, it also sets out the guidelines for preventing corruption in the judiciary and the private sector. It also requires the member states to promote active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector in the prevention of, and the fight against corruption and to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of the threat posed by corruption.
In order to fight corruption, the UN Convention calls for a code of conduct for public officials for the proper performance of public functions and accountability in the management of public finances. Further, it calls for domestic legislation for declarations by public officials of their outside activities, investments, assets and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest may arise with respect to their functions as public officials. It also stresses the need for public distribution of information relating to procurement procedures and contracts, including information relating to award of contracts and preparation and submission of tenders.
The UN Convention requires the member States to take measures to prevent opportunities for corruption among members of the judiciary. Such measures may include rules with respect to the conduct of members of the judiciary and prosecution service.
To promote cooperation between law enforcement agencies and private entities, the UN Convention has suggested measures including development of standard procedures to safeguard the integrity of relevant private entities; preventing the misuse of procedures by private entities regarding subsidies and licenses issued for commercial activities; having sufficient internal audit controls; maintenance of books and records, financial statement disclosures and accounting and audit standards.
In our article next month, we will cover the provisions relating to money laundering, bribery, misappropriation and unjust enrichment under the UN Convention.