Lusaka lawyer Gilbert Phiri
ACC will start background checks to ministers’ asset declarations – Phiri
By Kombe Mataka
ANTI-CORRUPTION Commission (ACC) director general Gilbert Phiri says the institution will begin looking at ways on how background checks can be done on declarations made by ministers and other public office holders to ensure they are authentic.During a media breakfast meeting at Lusaka’s Sarovar Hotel yesterday, Phiri said the manner declarations were being done was part of law reforms promised by the current administration.
“Law reform is actively being looked into and I think in the process of looking at reforming, we will look at best practices elsewhere. And one of the best is Rwanda where there is actual background check on what you declare, and there are deadlines,” he said. “And there are serious penalties. In fact, those ones you do not declare you forfeit to the State. So, the law reform process is on-going.”Phiri said the Commission shall do everything possible within its power to vigorously pursue any case of corruption that may come to its attention.
He said the Commission would continue to restrict and seize properties suspected to be proceeds of crime and investigate them to their logical conclusion.
“The Commission will not hesitate to prosecute these matters in the courts of law and to also ensure that properties or assets tainted with crime are forfeited to the State through available legal channels for the benefit of all Zambians,” Phiri said.He however assured that this would be done in a professional manner and within the confines of law.
Phiri also announced that in the last quarter of the year, the Commission received 169 reports of corruption, out of which 124 contained elements of corruption
He said 94 of the 169 were authorised for investigations as 30 did not have sufficient grounds for corruption to warrant prosecution.“The Commission had 10 cases before the courts of law. One case was pending judgment, one case was pending appeal and one acquittal was recorded during the quarter,” he explained.
Phiri said so far, the total number of cases concluded this year was 188 out of 1,160, with 17 arrests.“There were 35 cases before the court and one acquittal. A total of 338,984 have been sensitised on corruption throughout the country,” he said.
Phiri said the Commission also received a total of six reports in the first half of this year from the Financial Intelligence Centre about suspicious transactions, which it was investigating.