Anti-corruption

The Royal Decree No. (64/2013) endorsed the Sultanate's accession to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) , which reflected the Sultanate's keenness to cooperate with the international community to eliminate all criminal acts of corruption. Under Council of Ministers decision (15/2014), the State Audit Institution of Oman (SAI) was assigned the task of the Anti-Corruption Agency and following-up the implementation of the Convention in coordination with the competent authorities to ensure the Sultanate's implementation of its international commitments in this regard. In April 2015, the Sultanate completed itsfirst Country Review Report on the implementation of articles (15-42) of Chapter III “Criminalization and Law Enforcement”, and articles (44-50) of Chapter IV “International Cooperation” for the UNCAC first review cycle (2010-2015). The second cycle of the Convention review took place in 2018 and it was carried out for Oman to review the implementation of Chapter II on “Preventive Measures” and Chapter V on “Asset Recovery”.

Draft National Strategy to combat anti-corruption

In consultation with civil society, a committee comprising eight government institutions has prepared a draft national strategy to promote integrity and combat corruption for (2016–2020). It includes:

  • Binding commitments: for public institutions, private-sector organizations and civil society as their activities will be subject to periodic review and monitoring.
  • An action plan: It specifies measurable benchmarks, performance indicators and deadlines for the submission of reports.
  • Officially identify SAI as the entity fundamentally responsible for monitoring and overseeing the strategy.
In this regard, SAI has drafted specific guidelines concerning corruption risks, that is used for risk analysis by internal audit units and when reviewing the overall work. As part of its plan, SAI carries out several activities to prevent and raise awareness of corruption and to monitor and assess government agencies performance (article 8 of the State Audit Law).

 

Anti-corruption Framework

The anti-corruption framework in the Sultanate comprises provisions from several laws, notably the Omani Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Law on the Protection of Public Funds and the Avoidance of Conflict of Interests and the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Law . For instance, the Penal Code (articles 207-212) criminalizes the solicitation or acceptance of bribery in the public sector. The Law on the Protection of Public Funds and the Avoidance of Conflict of Interests in article 7 criminalizes the abuse by a public official of his/her position or functions to obtain a benefit for himself/herself or for another person, or the abuse of his/her powers to facilitate for another person obtaining a benefit or a privileged treatment. This article applies to the solicitation or acceptance of bribes by an official in order to abuse his/her influence, even when such influence is supposed.

Public Reporting and eParticipation

In addition, SAI allows the public to report corruption instances or complaints on failure in performing duties in the public sector through different means as follows:

SAI examines and investigates received complaints and cases relevant to entities subject to audit violating applicable laws, bylaws, regulations and decisions. The complaints may also include negligence, failure in performing the duties of the civil service, abuse of power and interfering with the public funds. The investigation is carried out in manner consistent with the mandate of the judicial entities and other relevant authorities.

 

Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS)

In light of the UNCAC providing for the necessity to establish an effective systems for financial disclosure by the Member States, public officials in Oman shall complete a Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS) upon SAI request. The FDS has been in force since 2012 and it covers the public officials’ possessions, activities, investments, assets as well as those related to their spouse(s) or minor children. This may also include substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest may arise with respect to their functions as public officials. The FDS is one important tool used to protect public fund and the government official’s financial liability aiming to identify any trace of doubtful wealth resulted during his/her term of service in the government.

Code of Conduct of Civil Employee

In 2019, the Civil Service Council issuedthe Code of Conduct of Civil Employee of the Units of State Administrative Apparatus . The Code underscores the importance of neutrality and fairness and refrainment from preferential dealing. As per the Code, civil employees should commit to providing services to all irrespective of any considerations. S/he should commit to laws, systems and rules pertaining to the job and should not ask for or accept any gifts or other advantages that could affect job duties. The Code states that the employees should commit to job secrets, not to divulge/utilize official information for personal interest even after retirement.

Government Cooperation Against Corruption

Other Ministries have also contributed in promoting citizens reporting of corruption occurrences. For instance, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MHUP) has a dedicated page in the ministry’s official website to allow citizens to provide observations and suggestions to the ministry. As part of the transparency policy and to curtail corruption, fraud, and embezzlement in the Sultanate, a number of entities publishes statistical reports on types of cases reported, committers demographic information and the number of cases filed. The National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) published a special booklet entitled; “Crimes and Criminals” in 2017 which highlighted the overall time course of crime in the Sultanate between 2014 and 2016, crime types and crime distribution in Oman. The publication provided an analytical view to the classification of crimes during the mentioned period with financial crime consisting 20.3% of the overall cases reported. Such financial crimes covered; theft, abuse of trust, fraud, embezzlement, exploiting public fund, money laundering and others. The Oman Public Prosecution (OPP) is another entity that publishes regular statistics on crime. The percentage of crimes on fraud, theft and embezzlement dropped form 20.3% in 2016 to 7.1% for theft and money extortion and 5% for fraud in 2020 reflecting the amount of work and efforts exerted since 2016 in fighting corruption and raising the public awareness on the negative impact of such acts on society.


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