Some investigations haven’t started – Finalized documents in AG’s drawer
Putting an end to bribery and corruption and punishing those engaged in serious financial crimes during the previous regime were the top election promises of the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) government. The civil society that ensured the UNFGG victory was keen on implementing a proper mechanism to prevent corruption because an election victory and a change of a regime was not adequate to end the culture of corruption in Sri Lanka. Anti-Corruption Front (ACF) commenced its operations on 14 January 2015 in a bid to assist in ending corruption which has become a part of our culture.
When ACF requested the Sri Lankan citizens to provide information on financial crimes from 2008, over 4000 responded within the first 30 days. Allegations of bribery, corruption and misuse of public property dominated these complaints. ACF investigated and authenticated these complaints with the assistance of experts who joined us voluntarily.
ACF has tendered 512 verified complaints to six institutions that deal with corruption in Sri Lanka, including FCID, CID, Bribery Commission and PRECIFAC. However the progress made on these complaints have been painfully slow and our inquiries have shown that most of the investigations have not gone beyond the AG’s Department. Thus investigations on most of these allegations of financial crime have not even reached the second stage of inquiry, i.e. taking legal action. Therefore it is evident that the values President Maithripala Sirisena spoke of during the international anti-corruption summit in London are not been practiced in Sri Lanka.
ACF has noted that in the first six months of the new government, significant progress was made regarding investigations on corruption. However that anti-corruption drive has slowed down drastically. The inefficiency of the AG’s department and the influence of several cabinet ministers, who have links to the AG’s department are the main reasons for this. ACF attempted to expedite the legal process by exerting significant pressure on the former AG, however that attempt ended in failure. Our next attempt was to ensure that credible and independent persons are appointed to the AG’s department, however it seems that that attempt might also fail.
1. It can be assumed that AG’s department has direct links to a number of individuals who have been accused of financial crimes.
2. Those accused of corruption have been able to influence groups working to prevent corruption and political parties
3. Investigations against high profile persons have stalled. For example the six investigations on former chief presidential aid Gamini Senarath have stalled.
4. Those accused of financial crimes have been able to stall investigations through bribery.