Anti-Corruption Bureau courts Assets Director
Graft-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), has widened its search for corruption suspects by seeking information from the Directorate of Public Officers Declarations which so far has over 10,200 declarations accessible to both the public and investigation agencies.
Among others, the assets law seeks to fight corruption and unlawful accumulation of public wealth by listed public officers who include the President, his deputy, cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs).
On Saturday, the assets directorate updated the Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament, on the progress it has made so far regarding the declarations and the committee’s role in ensuring the directorate is operating according to its obligations. The meeting took place in Salima.
In his response to queries by the MPs on how the progress that the directorate has made is helping in fulfilling its obligation, Assets Director Chris Tukula disclosed that ACB had sought some public officers’ declarations “probably to clear or incriminate them.”
He could, however, not disclose the names of the public officers whose declarations the graft-busting body was interested in.
“The [Assets] Act is a preventive measure apart from being a tool that can be used to detect illicit accumulation of wealth. So investigation agencies can come to our database and collect declarations of any public officer who is suspected to have illicitly enriched themselves.
“They check whatever information they get from whatever sources against what they find from the documents they get from our office. The information can be used to clear the name of the suspect, so it will be to their advantage,” said Tukula.
Opposition MPs recently accused ACB of probing only those that were not linked to the appointing authority of the institution’s directors and started pushing for the amendment of the Corrupt Practices Act so that the directors should be recruited by Parliament and not appointed by the President.
The opposition has further been claiming that regarding the massive plunder of public funds dubbed Cashgate, there are some officers who remain in the public service even though they were supposed to have been cornered by investigation agencies.
In an interview yesterday, ACB Senior Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala said she did not readily have any information regarding whether investigators at the graft-busting body had been to the assets directorate.
“But, that being a public office with vital information of public officers, if people have declared their assets and we have interest in their assets, we will surely seek the information. Even when the [Assets] Bill was being passed, we indicated that it would benefit us as well,” said Ndala.
Meanwhile, the Assets Directorate is this month expected to start physically verifying 200 of the 10,200 declarations—which represents 2 percent—and for this first phase, the office will concentrate on the President, his deputy and cabinet ministers, among others.
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