As Parliament Waits To Debate 9 Amendments… ACC To Grow More Teeth

The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. has assured that the ACC amendment Bill tabled in Parliament will make corruption a very highly risky and highly unprofitable exploit for any Sierra Leonean in the public sphere.

Speaking further about the amended ACC bill which will give the anti-graft fighting body more muscles, teeth and vigor to combat corruption in all its manifest forms in the country, Commissioner Ben Kaifala recalled that he promised that at the end of 2018 that in 2019, the ACC would push the boundaries of the fight against corruption further than ever and make it costly and a terrible choice for every Sierra Leonean who crosses the line.
To make good on the promise, based on the experiences and weaknesses in the current ACC Act, he said, the amendment tabled in Parliament include:

  1. The current Assets Declaration pool being too wide, including lower cadre public officials, which makes it unmanageable and cumbersome resulting in low compliance. Thus, the amended Act wants the pool to include only persons in elective positions, such as presidential appointees, public officers in Grade 7 and above, and officials below Grade 7 who handle or control cash payments, make decisions for licenses or income generating processes, and in regulatory institutions dealing with compliance, monitoring and inspection. All others to declare on a need to do basis as the ACC Commissioner will from time to time direct by public notice. Punishment for non-compliance will now include withholding of half salary after default pending declaration, naming and shaming and removal from office after over 3 months default.
  2. The minimum penalty for serious corruption is increased from 3 years minimum to 5 years imprisonment.
  3. The minimum fine is increased from Le30 million to Le50 million.
  4. Judges will no longer have discretion to order restitution, as conviction for misappropriation of public funds will now be a mandatory order to additionally pay back full amount misappropriated to the state.
  5. On the premise that bad contracts are responsible for drowning Sierra Leone into billions of dollars in local and foreign debt, due to overpriced and wickedly negotiated contracts, ACC is to have preventive authority to intervene and order a contract that is deemed to not be in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone to be suspended. Both parties shall have the right to within 7 days proceed to court to support their claim. This amendment is included in the revised ACC Act on the principle of prevention is better than cure. The burden of proof however will lie with ACC, failing which order to be discharged.
  6. Burden of proof – Where it is alleged that a public officer has been bribed, above the value provided in the Act or advantage given to an officer, it shall be presumed to be a bribe, until and unless proves otherwise.
  7. For misappropriation of public funds, the revised Act specifies that the full amount will be deemed misappropriated, until and unless established that it was used for correct purpose.
  8. Witnesses shall be better protected with severe penalties included for interfering, impeding or retaliating against anyone assisting ACC to report, investigate or prosecute corruption.
  9. Many other revolutionary provisions are included in the revised ACC Act to assist Sierra Leone place itself firmly on a footing for sincere accountability, transparency and integrity in public life.