CEO 87-84 -- October 29, 1987
DISCLOSURE OF REAL PROPERTY INTEREST IN FOREIGN COUNTRY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Full and public disclosure of financial interests requires the filing of a sworn statement "identifying each asset and liability in excess of $1,000 and its value . . . ." Real property located in a foreign country constitutes an asset and must be disclosed if its value exceeds $1,000. CEO 78-1 is referenced.
Is one required to disclose an interest in real estate located in a foreign country when making full and public disclosure of financial interests?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are an appointed official of the City of Jacksonville and required to file full and public disclosure of financial interests. You question whether you are required to disclose your interest in certain real estate located in the United Kingdom when filing Commission on Ethics Form 6. You further advise that you would prefer not to disclose this interest for the following reasons: property ownership generally is not public information in the United Kingdom, litigation is pending concerning the subject property, the ownership of this property would not affect any professional decision you might make in the State of Florida, and no creditors in the State will consider your ownership of this property when evaluating you for credit.
Article II, Section 8(h), Florida Constitution, provides that full and public disclosure of financial interests means filing a sworn statement "identifying each asset and liability in excess of $1,000 and its value . . . ." The term "asset" has been defined as
[p]roperty of all kinds, real and personal, tangible and intangible, including, inter alia, for certain purposes, patents and causes of action which belong to any person including a corporation and the estate of a decendant. The entire property of a person, association, corporation, or estate that is applicable or subject to the payment of his or her or its debts. [Black's Law Dictionary, p. 108 (5th ed. 1979)]
In a previous advisory opinion, we advised that one's property interest will constitute an "asset" if it can be sold to be applied to the payment of one's debts, or, in other words, if it can be alienated. See CEO 78-1. While under the provisions for limited disclosure of financial interests an individual is required to disclose "[t]he location or description of real property in this state, except for residences and vacation homes, owned directly or indirectly by the person reporting, when such person owns in excess of 5 percent of the value of such real property," full financial disclosure requires identification of each asset. See Section 112.3145(3)(c), Florida Statutes. We are aware of no reason why your interest in property located outside the country would not constitute an "asset," as defined above.
Accordingly, we find that you are required to disclose your interest in real estate located in a foreign country when making full and public disclosure of financial interests, if the value of that interest exceeds $1,000.