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Highest number of corruption convictions last year - CIABOC Director General

The highest number of convictions related to corruption cases was recorded last year with 57 convictions being done, said Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) Director General Sarath Jayamanne PC.

In an interview with the Daily News he said, last year CIABOC had filed 73 cases, while 51 were arrested over accepting of bribes.

In all 2,768 complaints had been received by CIABOC last year. So far this year CIABOC has filed around nine cases and carried out 11 successful raids, having received 605 complaints to date this year.

“CIABOC has taken measures to resolve the piling number of cases through several amendments to the existing acts, completing the hundreds of thousands of piled up cases. Three acts are to be amended, pertaining to the judicial activities, bribery and corruption and public servants activities, replacing the old laws with revised and productive new ones. Accordingly, based on these amendments, all courts procedures from the Magistrate’s Court up will be changed,” he said.

Director General Jayamanne said so far all corruption cases were only taken up by the Magistrate’s Courts and due to this loophole in the legal system, during the past 23 years, while over around 100-200 cases were filed, only four persons were convicted and received punishments amounting to ten years imprisonment.

“However, according to the new amendments, no case will be dragged on for many years and would be heard continuously and expedited,” he said.

“Cases that are determined to be heard before the AG or Bribery Commission or a three member judge panel, will be heard without a break until a final verdict is completed, thanks to the new revisions to the act. Due to the delay in conducting these cases, in most instances, evidence is lost, witnesses go missing or they die, suspects flee, officials change, documents get misplaced etc and by these delays, sometimes even the most severe criminals escape the grasp of the law, resulting in further injustice to the affected parties,” he added.

“Among the piled up cases, there are cases that have been delayed for over 20 years. Hence, even the President noted that this mechanism needs drastic changes. The proposed amendments would allow evidence gathered by a presidential commission to be valid before court reducing the repetition of the process of gathering evidence saving time and resources and expediting the judicial process,” Jayamanne noted.

However, he noted that in most of these cases, around 75 percent of the complaints are without evidence and grievances rather than substantial complaints. Therefore, he appealed to the public to refrain from sending in such complaints as it is a waste of public resources as these baseless complaints too should be investigated prior to being discarded wasting valuable time and resources.

The CIABOC Director General also said that declaration of assets for politicians, state officials and judges would be made mandatory.

“Unlike the old method of doing it manually, it would save a lot of time and money if this process is done online. Thereafter when ever required to update the details, instead of having to go through the whole process again from scratch, with the online method, it can just be updated with the relevant new information, saving a lot of time and resources. Further it should be made mandatory for government officials to be liable to declare their assets, upto a period of two years even after retirement,” he pointed out.

With regard to candidates contesting an election, it should be made mandatory for them to declare their assets within three months of receiving nominations.

“Through the amendments most of the laws pertaining to the 1988 Bribery Act would be revised,” he said.

“Through these amendments the loopholes that thus existed would be closed leaving no room for offenders to creep through them and escape punishment. These amendments have now received Cabinet approval and is currently measures are being taken by the legal draftsman to initiate necessary action,” he added.