Certain government officials and employees are required to file verified Financial Disclosure Statements in order to disclose any possible conflict of interest in performance of their official duties.
The information required to be provided is not intrusive into privacy matters. Most of the information required, such as land records and business licenses, is already in the public domain, and annual income is not required to be reported.
- Who Must File?
- What Happens If You Miss a Filing Deadline or Refuse to File?
- What Recourse Is Available for a Late Filer?
- Blind Trust
- Elected Commonwealth officials are required to file such a Statement when they take the oath of office.
- Persons subject to confirmation by the Legislature are also required to file when their names are submitted for confirmation.
- Appointed officials (or those in an acting capacity) must file a Statement before beginning duties.
- By May 1 of every year, the following individuals must file such a Statement for the previous year unless they have already filed one:
- All appointed and elected officials and judicial officers, including members of boards, task forces, and other CNMI instrumentalities.
- All government employees who receive additional compensation for services rendered to, or as an independent contractor for, the Commonwealth government.
Persons required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement before May 1 should take this deadline seriously. Under the Ethics Code Act of 1992, a person who fails to file a properly completed and verified statement within the time required is subject to a civil penalty of $10 a day for each day the delinquency continues. The Office of the Public Auditor refers the names of all persons not paying late filing penalties to the Attorney General who may file suit to collect these fines. The payment of the penalty does not, however, relieve a person of the obligation to file a Statement.Misdemeanor
In addition, a person who refuses or knowingly fails to file a Statement or who provides false or misleading information is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of between $500 and $1,000, imprisonment, or both. For a public official, this could also result in removal from office.Top Executive Branch Officials and Members of Boards and Commissions
Persons hired or appointed for any of the following positions (department head, deputy department head or division head in the executive branch, or commissioner, chairman or member of a Commonwealth commission or board), who refuse or fail to file a statement of financial interests when due:
- will not be paid any salary, per diem, or travel expenses until they comply.
- are guilty of a misdemeanor if it occurs after taking office, punishable by a fine of between $500 and $1000, and will be removed from office if compliance is not made within 30 days after the Statement is due.
If the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or a legislator, refuses or fails to file a Statement when due, they:
- forfeit and will not be paid salary, per diem, or travel expenses after the due date until compliance, and
- are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of between $500 and $1000.
Request for Extension - A filer may obtain one 30-day extension for filing the statement by filing with the Public Auditor, not less than 10 days before the statement is due, a declaration of intention to delay filing. A declaration for extension must be accompanied by a $50 non-refundable fee payable to the CNMI Treasurer. Failure to declare in time will constitute a violation, and the provisions for late filing will apply.
File an Appeal - A person who is assessed a civil penalty for failing to file a statement of financial interest, may submit an affidavit (a sworn statement of alleged facts) stating the reasons and circumstances for late filing or non- filing of the statement. The Public Auditor will determine appropriate actions based on the affidavit submitted.
To avoid potential conflicts of interest, a public official may transfer all or a portion of his assets, which must be marketable, to a trustee for the duration of his service. The trustee will have full authority to manage the trust, keep the trust's assets confidential from the public official, and report any breach of confidentiality.
Financial Disclosure Statements must be verified by a Notary Public. This means that reporting individuals must, in the presence of a Notary Public, sign and swear under oath that the contents of their Statements are true. The Notary Public then affixes his/her signature and seal verifying that the sworn statement was signed in his/her presence. A Notary Public is available for such verification, at no cost, in the Office of the Public Auditor.
All reporting individuals must file using OPA Form EC-101.