13 April 2018

Namibia: ACC to Pursue Big Fish

Windhoek — Due to an increase in the number of serious corruption allegations and greater calls for investigation into high profile cases, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) will step up its investigation of such cases this year.

The commission has been subjected to criticism and accusations that it is "toothless," ineffectual and not adequately going after the "big fish".

The ACC will this year receive about N$70 million from the national budget, which represents a three percent increase over the N$59.1 million it received the previous year.

Motivating the ACC budget in parliament this week, Deputy Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr Samuel Ankama, said the commission would prioritise large corruption cases this financial year.

"Large and complex corruption cases, unlike most other corruption investigations, contain a financial aspect that requires collection, extraction and analysis of data to find supporting circumstantial evidence or to show the relationships between the different entities/individuals involved," said Ankama.

Ankama told lawmakers the ACC has 15 investigations ongoing with the estimated monetary value ranging between N$5 million and N$10 million.

He said these investigations require substantial resources that include a variety of investigative skills, ranging from financial analysis, expertise in information technology and expert knowledge of the built environment, among others.

According to him, the ACC will increasingly resort to sourcing of expertise to assist in the investigation of complex corruption cases.

He said these complex cases further require a close collaboration between investigating officers and prosecutors, from the initial stages of the investigation up to and including prosecution in court.

He said that during this financial year the ACC will approach the Office of the Attorney-General with the view to agreeing on a collaborative effort with prosecutors in tackling complex corruption cases.

"This approach has the potential to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of investigation," he said.

In his SONA address, President Hage Geingob said in line with the government's commitment to reckon, he further demonstrated resolve to address perceived and alleged corruption by requesting ministers to respond to accusations levelled against them, upon commencement of the 2018 executive year.

"This should not be understood to mean the concerned ministers are guilty of corrupt activity. The purpose of my intervention was to provide a platform to respond," he said.

The president said despite ministers' public declaration of assets, he [Geingob] and First Lady Monica Geingos remain on the receiving end of similar allegations and scrutiny.

"I continue to respond to queries from the media and expect ministers to do the same. I am glad cabinet ministers have all responded and come to appreciate this platform to respond to allegations levelled against them," he said.

"If we are to win the war against corruption we have a shared obligation to blow the whistle," he said, adding that in this regard members of the public are requested to report cases of corruption.

He said the Whistle Blowers Protection and Witness Protection Acts were passed in September 2017 to strengthen the legal instruments.

According to the head of state, the implementation mechanism for this legislation is not yet operational.

However, he said this should not deter the public from submitting reports of corruption to relevant authorities.

"Contrary to the widespread perception of corrupt officials, substantiated reports have not been forthcoming," he said.

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