Foreign experts to fight bribes, corruption

Sagala Ratnayake

The Government was mulling obtaining the assistance of external experts to carry out investigations on corruption, Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayake said over the weekend.

He said that the assistance of external experts might be needed to carry out investigations on corruption.

“There are areas where our investigators lack expertise, and they have to seek the assistance of outside parties – sometimes foreign experts,” the Minister said.

Minister was speaking at the Anti Corruption Day celebrations on Saturday.

“There are challenges that we need to overcome. I am aware that the patience of the public – especially the ones who have voted for the Government against bribery and corruption – is wearing thin. They want to see the culprits convicted and they, understandably, demand justice without delay. Our law enforcement bodies are working day in and day out, despite many a challenge, to achieve these results and fulfil the expectations of those who voted for a change on January 08, 2015,” he said

“It is important to understand that some of the major financial crimes under probe were meticulously planned and carefully executed. It requires a lot of time and hard work to trace evidence analyse them and bring the perpetrators to book,” he added.

“There are areas where our investigators lack expertise, and they have to seek the assistance of outside parties – sometimes foreign experts. Also, there are areas where the investigators are hampered by lack of resources and human capital. We, as a Government, continuously work with the law enforcement parties to address these issues and find sustainable solutions. Amid all these issues, the Police have produced satisfactory results,” the Minister stated.

“The Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division has so far received 370 cases of which 73 have been forwarded to other bodies for investigations. The FCID has so far concluded 93 investigations and sent to the Attorney General’s Department’s advice for legal action. The Criminal Investigations Department has conducted 38 investigations – 24 on cases involving people and 14 on cases involving properties – of which 17 cases have been referred to the Attorney General’s Department for legal advice,” the Minister said.

“We are aware that the Attorney General’s Department too is facing issues on the human capital front. This is not a blame game and we all have to understand the challenges each party faces, and help find permanent solutions. The Government has also taken measures to recruit more state counsels to the Attorney General’s Department to expedite legal action,” he added.

“To further facilitate this process, the United National Party’s Working Committee has already passed three separate resolutions for the expedition of action regarding cases involving bribery, corruption and financial crimes.

“The party has also resolved that measures should be taken for the appointment of Trial at Bars at High Courts to hear such cases and the appointment of a special prosecution authority under the Attorney General. In addition, the party has resolved that legal provisions should be made available enabling anyone to appeal to the Supreme Court directly against the rulings by the High Court,” he said.

“Currently, such appeals are made to the Court of Appeal. When these new mechanisms are in place, we believe, prosecutions with regard to cases of bribery and corruption will move fast. Our government’s commitment to this cause was clearly shown when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made a voluntary statement to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Treasury Bonds issue.

“It was the first time a Prime Minister of Sri Lanka offered to engage with an ongoing investigation. We have seen many instances where political power was used to clamp down investigators and block proceedings,” he also said.

(Source: Daily Mirror – By Yohan Perera)