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Sri Lanka extends anti-corruption unit mandate

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will extend the mandate of its Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat (ACCS) as it prepares to set up a full-fledged unit similar to the Serious Frauds Office in the United Kingdom, a spokesman said.

The move comes amid growing public concern and frustration over perceived lack of progress in corruption alleged under the former Rajapaksa regime and no prosecutions over a year after the ACCS was set up.

Gayantha Karunathilaka, Minister of Parliamentary Reforms & Mass Media, said the ACCS was established on a decision made by the Cabinet to receive and facilitate complaints on serious fraud and corruption.

The government aims to restructure the anti-corruption unit and to establish a full-fledged Serious Fraud Office similar to the Serious Frauds Office in the UK, he told a news conference.

The Cabinet this week approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to continue the operations of the ACCS and extend the services of its staff till 31 December 2016, he said.

The Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat was set up in February 2015 and its mandate extended in December 2015 till 30 June 2016.

British financial crimes experts have supported the ACCS and its support has included having officers from the British Serious Fraud Office working with Sri Lankan investigators and prosecutors.

The Serious Fraud Office of the UK does both investigation and prosecution of cases, given their complicated nature which requires lawyers and investigators to work together from the beginning.

Its staff includes investigators, lawyers, forensic accountants, analysts, digital forensics experts and a variety of other people in specialist and support roles.
(COLOMBO, June 30, 2016)

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