Amendments to the Bribery and Corruption Act will be brought in to bring the private sector under its scope, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) Director General Sarath Jayamanne, PC, said. Addressing a media workshop, the Director General noted that while numerous cases of bribery or corruption were reported from the Government service, there was no legislation to monitor and prosecute such instances in the private sector.
“Just as there is corruption in State institutions, the private sector is the same – possibly even worse. We are currently in the process of completing the draft of the amendments to the Act to make bribery or corruption an offence in the private sector as well. We hope to submit it to Parliament as soon as possible.”
Jayamanne said new amendments would also be introduced to bring all cases of bribery or corruption under purview of the High Court.“The Magistrate Courts are ineffective in prosecuting such cases. They are appealed, the defence has many loopholes and can delay the process through the Magistrate Courts. When such a case is heard at a Magistrate Court, the defence will first file to appeal it in the High Court. If that fails they will make an appeal in the Court of Appeal, failing which the case would be appealed again before the Supreme Court. Cases can take more than 10 years to be heard in the Magistrate Court,” he said, adding that amendments would also include more severe penalties.
He went on to note that at present the CIABOC lacked officials with adequate expertise: “We have some 200 investigators, all from the Police. Not a single one is a degree holder, nor do they have any experience in accounting. They do not have the technical or research skills needed, forcing us to procure assistance outside the Commission.” Further, the Director General pointed out that when compared to neighbouring nations such as Singapore or Hong Kong, Sri Lanka’s CIABOC had a serious shortage of human resources.
For a population of 21 million, Sri Lanka has 200 investigators, while Hong Kong, with a population of just six million has over 1,200 officials to investigate cases of bribery or corruption and they are all graduates.”