Saturday, April 14, 2007

ACC will probe matters from Parliament - Banda

ACC will probe matters from Parliament - Banda
By George Chellah
Saturday April 14, 2007 [04:00]

ANTI-CORRUPTION Commission (ACC) director general Nixon Banda yesterday said ACC will investigate matters emerging from Parliament's Public Accounts Committee where corruption or abuse of office is suspected. And Banda said ACC was worried with the 347 corruption complaints against government officials in the first quarter of 2007.

Meanwhile, Banda said decisions are soon to be made in the next week or two on effecting arrests on the Ministry of Lands saga suspects. Addressing the first 2007 quarterly press briefing at ACC headquarters in Lusaka, Banda - who was asked about matters that are emerging from the Public Accounts Committee - promised that ACC would move in.

“Clearly these are matters which have already taken place and some of them I know that administrative action has been taken. But where corruption or abuse of office is suspected definitely we will move in,” Banda said.

In the last few days, various permanent secretaries appearing before the Public Accounts Committee have failed to account for billions of kwacha allocated to their respective ministries.

And on the K36 billion missing public funds, Banda said investigations in the matter were ongoing. “Others have been dismissed and there are those we are still investigating. And I must say here that we working jointly with DEC, and sooner or later you should be learning that people will be appearing in court about these allegations,” he said.

Banda also said ACC was worried with the 347 corruption complaints against government officials in the first quarter of 2007. “Yes, we are worried; we are saying that maybe our workshops are not being understood,” Banda said. “Again, this is why we have brought in the integrity committees in public institutions to see whether the existence of integrity committees will actually reduce this number. So we are monitoring if you find that something is not happening, definitely we will find some ways of actually trying to reduce as much as possible this number.”

Banda further said investigations into allegations of corruption at the Ministry of Lands have reached an advanced stage. “Investigations have now reached an advanced stage to an extent that cases have been isolated, possible offences identified and decisions are soon to be made in the next week or two on effecting arrests on the suspects,” Banda said. “However, I wish to say that it would not be appropriate for me to give details of who is likely to face the wrath of the law or the possible offences they would be facing as this could jeopardize investigations.”

He said during the first quarter of the year, ACC received a total of 446 corruption and non-corruption reports. “As expected, Lusaka recorded the highest number of reports with 168, whilst Mongu recorded the lowest with 12 reports. Out of these 446 reports, 195 were categorized as corruption complaints whilst 251 were non corruption related complaints and treated as information received,” Banda said. “From the 195 corruption complaints, only 141 cases were authorized for investigations while 54 cases where not authorized for investigations as they were deemed not to be pursuable.”

He said there were 347 complaints against public officials while complaints against the private sector totalled to 99. “The total number of cases closed in the first quarter, including those brought forward from the previous year is 119,” Banda said. He said ACC recorded a total of seven arrests for various offences of corruption and registered seven new prosecution cases. “Within this period, we had four convictions and two acquittals, one is still pending,” said Banda.

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