Investigating Officials: Look for assets

The first step when checking the assets of those in government is to get their statements of assets and liabilities. Officials often lie in their asset statements, tending to understate what they own; nonetheless, these records are among the most valuable public documents available when one is investigating corrupt officials. While the data these documents contain are often incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise unreliable, they still offer baseline information for pursuing a more thorough investigation.

Government officials and employees are required to make annual declarations of their assets and liabilities. The idea is that such declarations make it easier to keep track of the accumulation of wealth by public officials, so that the public can check on, among other things, potential conflicts of interest or illicit gain from public office. Making inaccurate declarations is a violation of the law and has caused the downfall of high officials.

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