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900 corruption complaints in 12 months

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The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it has handled and processed 900 corruption complaints this financial year.

The bureau says a total of 200 cases were investigated, out of which 116 were completed.

It says, out of the completed cases, 30 percent of the cases were recommended for prosecution, 66 per cent for closure and 4 per cent of the cases were referred.

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ACB Director, Lucas Kondowe, made the revelation in Lilongwe on Wednesday when officials from the bureau appeared before the Legal Affairs and Privileges committees of Parliament.

Parliament gave the cluster committee the task of scrutinising ACB’s budget.

“Under prosecutions, a total of 62 cases were prosecuted, out of which 15 cases were completed. Of the completed cases, 31 per cent resulted in convictions,” Kondowe said.

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Kondowe said the bureau conducted various civic education and prevention initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and preventing occurrences of corruption.

“In the year, the bureau reached out to 11,560 citizens. About 50 per cent of citizens are conversant with corruption issues, whereas 13 per cent are conversant with its [corruption] reporting,” reads Kondowe’s presentation.

It adds: “On the prevention front, the bureau continued in [sic] promoting integrity, accountability and transparency in various public and private institutions in the country and about 63 per cent of institutions are perceived of [sic] high and honest integrity.”

The bureau has also said it wants to investigate five foreign corruption cases in 2017/2018 financial year.

In his presentation to the committee, Kondowe outlined a number of activities in corruption prevention and civic education, law enforcement, and management and administration.

In an interview after the meeting, Kondowe said, due to the complexity of foreign investigations, a lot is needed in order to succeed.

“By their nature, foreign investigations are complex because, when you go into another country to make an investigation, you need the cooperation of that country. And if you need information, you also need to get support from that country. Not only that, but performing foreign investigations is also financially very expensive,” Kondowe said.

He added: “There are a few cases that we are currently investigating that require travel to other countries and co-operation with foreign jurisdictions in order to complete those investigations. And these are some of the things that we intend to pursue in the coming fiscal year.”

On law enforcement, according to Kondowe, the bureau wants to handle and process 1, 720 complaints. He said they plan to investigate 218 cases locally and, out of those, 141 should be completed in due course.

During the meeting, Kondowe stated that lack of funds has hampered the bureau’s efforts to institute investigations into some cases.

“As you know last year and years before, we struggled a lot with operations. We intend to spend most of this money on operational matters,” he said.

He added that, when it comes to crime prevention, the bureau intends to prepare 140 legal opinions, file 36 cases in court and prosecute 59 cases.

For 2017/2018 financial year, the total estimates for the bureau are projected at K3.07 billion, which represents a jump of 48.6 per cent from the 2016/17 budget allocation.

Kondowe said although there has been an increment by K1 billion from last year’s allocation, they will be waiting for the actual funding so that they implement the planned programmes.

As of April 2017, out of the K2.06 billion that was allocated to the bureau, the total expenditure amounted to K1.5 billion, representing 74.6 per cent of the approved budget.

Legal Affairs Committee Chairperson, Maxwell Thyolera, said the committee, would support the bureau’s budget.

“As Legal Affairs Committee, we will make sure that operations of the ACB are not hindered because of financial resources. As you have heard, their budget has been increased. This is a good move. We are hopeful that, subject to availability of funds, their activities will be implemented,” Thyolera said.

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