DG Attended IAACA at Vienna Austria From 22-24 January 2019

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Director General Sarath Jayamanne President's Counsel attended the 10th International Anti-Corruption Authorities General Meeting and met the heads and the members of IAACA ,from 22-24 January 2019 at Vienna Austria.

 

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Report of Director General's Visit -

The 10th International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) Annual Conference and General Meeting Vienna, Austria from 22 to 24 January 2019

 

 On an invitation extended by the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA), the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), Mr. Sarath Jayamanne, PC participated at its 10th Annual Conference held at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. Hon. Mahathir Mohamed, the Prime Minister of Malaysia made the keynote speech of the event while the opening address of the Conference was made by H.E. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC.

 The objective of the Conference was to provide a platform for anti-corruption agencies all over the world to share their experiences and challenges confronted in their work. Four panel discussions were held to brief the Member States on 04 vital issues with regard to Anti-Corruption as follows:

a. Panel (1): The UNCAC as the Infrastructure for the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda:

While outlining the role of UNCAC in achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the panellists described the direct link between SDGs and the eradication of corruption. Further, all members and panellists endorsed the importance of complying with UNCAC provisions in this regard.

b. Panel (2): Education as the key tool for the prevention of corruption

This panel focused on the necessity of imparting education to primary, secondary & tertiary level students on anti-corruption in order to empower them as a tool for prevention of corruption. Ways and means of educating students for this purpose were discussed lengthily in the panel.

c. Panel (3): Integrity in the public sector: asset declarations and conflicts of interest

The focus of this panel was to ensure integrity in the public sector and for that purpose, to identify avenues on how to use asset declarations and conflicts of interest rules. The panellists pointed out that integrity in the public sector could contribute more towards the process of achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

d. Panel (4): International Cooperation and Asset Recovery: progress and Prospects

Mr. Jayamanne, Director General, CIABOC, was invited as a member of this panel and accordingly participated as one of the speakers. Citing many examples, DG - Jayamanne highlighted the difficulty in garnering international cooperation in matters relating to the recovery of assets due to various reasons. Further elaborating, Mr. Jayamanne stated that due to different legal principles on which different jurisdictions operate, i.e. although accumulation of wealth is a criminal offence in Sri Lanka it is not the case in certain other countries where assets of Sri Lanka have been invested, therefore other countries are not legally obliged to give details of such assets maintained within their respective financial institutions/ banks. Therefore, this necessity of dual criminality hinders the existence of a proper asset recovery regime. In light of the above, Mr. Jayamanne invited members of UNCAC to join hands to overcome these obstacles and to implement provisions of UNCAC which stipulate “even without having criminality, countries must assist victim countries by providing at least some “soft information” that would include details of bank account, transactions etc”. Another point highlighted by Mr. Jayamanne was the inability to forfeit proceeds of crimes without convictions in criminal proceedings.

Briefing the audience of Sri Lanka’s experiences and developments, Mr. Jayamanne informed that having understood these drawbacks, Sri Lanka is considering the restructuring of required policies and legal framework, especially with regard to asset recovery. Further, he noted that the Presidential Task Force appointed by H.E. the President of Sri Lanka nearly a year ago with the participation of key stakeholders, is entrusted with implementing the national policy framework and to propose legal amendments where applicable. Speaking further, Mr. Jayamanne said that the proposals of the Task Force are expected to be considered by the Cabinet of Ministers in due course. One of the important features of the proposals is the principle of “Civil Forfeiture” which gives authority to courts to forfeit proceeds of crimes even without criminal proceedings having been instituted, which measure has already been successfully implemented by other judiciaries. Mr. Jayamanne invited UNCAC and the Member States to join together to introduce and reframe legislation related to civil forfeiture.

 In addition to the above, DG/CIABOC was able to have one to one meetings with dignitaries and high-level participants of the conference, namely Mr. Simon Peh, Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong; Mr. Abu Kassim Mohamed, President of the Institute on Governance and Integrity in Malaysia; Mr. Dimitri Vlassis, Chief, Corruption & Economic Crime Branch, UNODC and Mr. Martin Kreutner, Dean, International Anti-Corruption Agency.

 During the side meeting with Mr. Simon Peh, Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong Mr. Jayamanne briefed that CIABOC is in the process of recruiting 200 expert investigators on the subjects of accounting, auditing, bonds, digital forensics etc and explored avenues to obtain assistance for training of those officers at CIABOC. The Chief Commissioner of Hong Kong responded positively to the request and undertook to extend their fullest support and assistance. Accordingly, Hong Kong will send its resource personnel to conduct an introduction programme for the officers of CIABOC. The Chief Commissioner of Hong Kong further noted that there may be a possibility to facilitate some of the investigators and trainers at CIABOC to visit Hong Kong and take part in training Programmes which would be a valuable opportunity for officers to understand the practical aspects pertaining to the role of investigators. Hence, this remarkable achievement needs to be followed up.

 It is further noted that during the meeting with Mr. Abu Kassim Mohamed, President of the Institute on Governance and Integrity in Malaysia he assured of training assistance to CIABOC and undertook to send a team of Malaysian officers to train the 50 newly recruited Prevention Officers at CIABOC and other Senior Public Servants on integrity and prevention. Follow up action in this regard may also be required.

 During a meeting, Mr. Dimitri Vlassis, Chief, Corruption & Economic Crimes Branch UNODC was duly informed of the conclusion of the preparation of the National Action Plan for Combating Corruption which is expected to be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers shortly and upon the approval of Cabinet to launch it in Colombo. Given the latest developments, Mr. Jayamanne invited Mr. Vlassis to attend the event to witness Sri Lanka’s giant step in eradicating corruption. Displaying his keen interest in this, Mr. Vlassis informed that he would hopefully be able to visit Sri Lanka for the launching ceremony.

 Mr. Martin Kreutner, Dean, International Anti-Corruption Agency invited investigators and prosecutors in Sri Lanka to take part in the academic and professional programmes conducted by IACA, highlighting the importance of such programmes for international networking of participants. Mr. Kreutner recalled that Sri Lanka’s membership of IACA is still pending. In response, Mr. Jayamanne apprised that necessary arrangements have already been initiated for Sri Lanka to obtain membership of IACA and that the process to obtain the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is underway.

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