Public Ethics Law: Regime for presents made to Public Officers

Published 17 February 2017

On November 18, 2016 the Executive Branch issued Decree No. 1179/2017 (the “Decree”) (published on the Official Gazette on November 21, 2016), which implements article 18 of the Public Ethics Law – Law No. 25,188 (the “Law”). This article establishes that “Public Officers cannot receive presents, gifts or donations, assets or services as a result of their work or in the performance of their public duties…”, and adds that “in the case that the presents are courtesy or diplomatic custom, the applicable authority will regulate its registration and establish in which cases said assets will be incorporated into the State’s assets, either to be destined to health, social action and education, or to historical and cultural heritage.”

In the first place, the Decree creates a “Register of Presents made to Public Officers” and a “Register of Trips financed by third parties” which will operate under the scope of the Anti-Corruption Office, the applicable authority, of the Argentine Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. Information from these registers is found on the Secretary’s Office website.

The Decree establishes as a general principle that any individual who performs governmental functions is forbidden from receiving presents, gifts or donations of assets or services, including the free use of them, as a result of their work or in the performance of their public duties. Under the Decree, a gift given as a result of work or in the performance of public duties means a gift which would not have been given if the individual was not a public officer. However, there are a few exceptions to this prohibition:

  • Presents made by way of diplomatic custom, that is, recognitions received by governments.
  • Presents received for courtesy, provided they are commonly made.

These presents must be registered in the “Register of Presents made to Public Officers” and cannot come from individuals or entities that:

  • perform activities regulated or audited by the agency where the public officer performs his/her duties
  • manage or exploit concessions, authorizations, privileges or exemptions granted by the agency or body in which the public officer performs his/her duties
  • are contractors or suppliers of works, goods or services for the agency or body in which the public officer performs his/her duties
  • make decisions or actions on behalf of the agency where the officer performs his/her duties
  • have interests that may be significantly affected by a decision, action, delay or omission from the agency where the officer performs his/her duties.

In addition, presents must be incorporated into the State’s assets in the event that, at the moment of the delivery, (i) the assets´ market value is greater than $4.000, as established by the Decree; or  (ii) the asset´s institutional value represents the relation with the State or organism who gave it and is received as diplomatic custom.

With regard to payments of travel expenses financed by third parties, the Decree establishes that public officers may accept them only under certain circumstances:

  • For the organization of conferences, courses or academic or cultural activities
  • When payment does not arise from governments, entities, individuals or agencies who are forbidden from giving gifts to public officers
  • When their acceptance is neither incompatible with public officers’ functions nor forbidden by special rules.

The public officers that receive these benefits must register them in the “Register of Trip financed by third parties”.

Finally, the Decree entered into force 60 days after the publication in the Official Gazette.

 

Ley de Ética en el Ejercicio de la Función Pública: Régimen de obsequios a funcionarios públicos.

En primer lugar, este Decreto crea un Registro de Obsequios a Funcionarios Públicos y un Registro de Viajes Financiados por Terceros, que funcionarán dentro del ámbito de la Oficina Anticorrupción, autoridad de aplicación de la Ley, perteneciente al Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Nación. Los datos de estos registros podrán encontrarse en el sitio web de dicha Secretaría.

El Decreto establece como principio general que toda persona que ejerza una función pública se encuentra vedada de recibir regalos, obsequios, donaciones, beneficios o gratificaciones, de cosas, servicios o bienes, incluyendo la cesión gratuita del uso de los mismos, con motivo o en ocasión del desempeño de sus funciones. El Decreto entiende como un regalo hecho con motivo de sus funciones aquellos que no hubieran sido hechos en caso de no ser funcionario público. Sin embargo, se contemplan algunas excepciones a esta prohibición:

  • Obsequios recibidos por costumbre diplomática, entendidos como reconocimientos protocolares recibidos por gobiernos.
  • Obsequios recibidos por cortesía, que sean de común práctica efectuarlos.

Estos obsequios permitidos deberán ser registrados en el Registro de Obsequios a Funcionarios Públicos y no podrán provenir de una persona o entidad que:

  • Lleve a cabo actividades reguladas o fiscalizadas por el órgano o entidad en el que se desempeña el funcionario
  • Gestione o explote concesiones, autorizaciones, privilegios o franquicias otorgados por el órgano o entidad en donde se desempeña el funcionario.
  • Sea contratista o proveedor de obras, bienes o servicios del órgano o entidad del funcionario
  • Procure una decisión o acción del órgano o entidad en el que se desempeña el funcionario.
  • Tenga intereses que puedan verse afectados por una decisión del órgano o entidad en donde se desempeña el funcionario.

Asimismo, los bienes obsequiados deberán ser incorporados al patrimonio del Estado Nacional en el caso de que, al momento de la entrega, tengan un valor de mercado superior a los $4.000 establecidos por el Decreto, o aquellos recibidos por costumbre diplomática que contengan un valor representativo del vínculo con el Estado u organismo que lo ha entregado.

Con respecto a los gastos de viajes financiados por terceros, el Decreto dispone que los funcionarios públicos podrán aceptarlos únicamente en las siguientes circunstancias:

  • Para el dictado de conferencias, cursos o actividades académicas o culturales
  • Cuando el financiamiento proceda de gobiernos, entidades o personas no impedidas de realizar obsequios.
  • Que no resultare incompatible con las funciones del caro, o prohibido por normas especiales.

Los funcionarios que reciban estos beneficios deberán inscribirlos en el Registro de Viajes Financiados por Terceros.

Por último, en cuanto a la entrada en vigencia, el Decreto comenzó a regir a los 60 días de su publicación en el Boletín Oficial.