Proposed amendments to Bribery Act before House

Proposed amendments to the Bribery Act which will also include powers to deal with bribery and corruption in the private sector will be brought before Parliament shortly, Bribery Commission Director General Sarath Jayamanne PC said.

The new proposals also include powers to file legal action directly in High Court, Jayamanne said during a workshop held for Parliamentary Journalists Association members at Pegasus Reef Hotel in Wattala yesterday. The Workshop had been organised with the assistance of the ‘Internews’ organization.

Jayamanne went said that only four convictions have been recorded during the past 23 years in corruption cases due to snags in the system of prosecution.

“However, convictions were brought in 57 Bribery cases last year, the highest recorded in a single year,” Jayamanne said.

He said according to proposed amendments, the Commission will have the power to consult the Attorney General for advice in any legal matter when needed.

“Also a minimum of a Rs.100,000 fine has been proposed to the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act for Non declaration of Assets and Liabilities. The current penalty for such an offence is Rs.1,000,” he added..

The Commissioner further said that the amendments would be made to the Bribery Act, Bribery Commission Act and the Property Evaluation Act. “The Cabinet has approved the amendments and the Legal Draftsman’s Department is doing the paperwork which will be submitted to Parliament for approval.

“The amendments would be made to an extent that the cases could be directly filed in the High Courts. Cases could only be filed in the Magistrate’s court under the current Act,” Jayamanne said.

“The Bribery Act was implemented in 1957 and amendments were made in 1994. However, many practical issues have arisen due to some complications in the amendment which has been made in a hurry,” the Commissioner remarked.

“There are many errors in this system. The cases go on for a long time due to the process of appealing and the inexperience of the persons handling these cases. The Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) has only 200 inquiry officials to cater to the 210 lakh population of the country while Hong Kong has 1200 inquiry officials for its 60 lakh population,” the Bribery Commission Director General said. 

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