Ministers Start Debate on Disclosing Their Wealth

The ministerial legislative committee today starts debate on a bill that would force candidates running for elected office to disclose their wealth and its sources to the state comptroller. The bill would apply to candidates for prime minister, ministers and deputy ministers.

Not only would the candidates have to reveal their wealth before the election, they would have to continue doing so annually for five years after leaving office.

Breaking the law would cost the secretive miscreant some of his wealth: the fine could reach NIS 250,000. Disclosure would be required for income from employment, capital gains, revenue from property, gifts, inheritances and more, under the bill.

The authors of the proposal are MKs Yuli Tamir of Labor, Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz and Yoel Hasson of Kadima.

Currently, under the rules designed to prevent conflicts of interests, these elected officials have to submit a statement of wealth to the state comptroller, and to explain the sources of their wealth, upon taking office. They have to report again within 60 days of leaving office.

The difference is that under the new rule, they'd have to file reports before even being elected, let alone taking office, and also have to expose their financial status five years after leaving office.

If the bill passes, it would require Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman and others to reveal the source of their wealth. The three are all considered to be well-off by virtue of their dealings, mainly abroad, between their first stints in public office and their present ones.

For instance, Netanyahu gave lectures after leaving office in 1999, and returned to politics in 2002. Barak left office in 2001 and advised defense companies in the United States. He'll have to explain whence the wherewithal to buy his luxury apartment in Akirov Towers, Tel Aviv, among other things.