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Transparency International calls for fuller disclosure of German politicians' supplemental income

A report by the German office of Transparency International draws attention to potential conflicts of interest among German lawmakers. The organization called for more disclosure rules in the Bundestag.

The report, released on Friday, is titled "Supplementary Income and Conflicts of Interest for Members of the Bundestag," referring to Germany's upper house of parliament.

A press release accompanying the report on the Transparency Deutschland website said the "existing disclosure obligations and rules are not sufficient. To rule out that conflicts of interest did not affect parliamentary work in committees and in the parliamentary groups, lawmakers need to disclose more information."

Included in the report were 105 parliamentarians that Transparency International identified as having potential conflicts of interest. These were among 140 parliamentarians out of Germany's 630 who had declared sources of supplementary income.

The 105 lawmakers with potential conflicts included party leaders, parliamentary leaders, committee heads and deputies, and ombudsmen.

Transparency International noted that in cases where a lawmaker had earned supplementary income as a lawyer, only a declaration of the amount of income was required. Due to laws protecting the privacy of mandates, these lawmakers were not required to disclose who they were working for. Transparency International called for a rule that would at least reveal the branch of lawmakers' mandates in such cases.

In addition, lawmakers are not required to make exact declarations of the amount of supplementary income they earn. Under current laws, supplementary income can simply be declared in a series of 10 levels that bracket income ranges. The highest level is "over 250,000 euros of supplementary income per year or month" – meaning a lawmaker could earn much more than 250,000 euros ($264,000) in supplementary income but would not be required to disclose it. The organization finds the lack of distinction between "monthly or yearly" to be problematic as well.

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