Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) welcomes the resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ravi Karunanayake following allegations of wrongdoing that have emerged before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Bond Issuances. Whilst acknowledging that such actions emanate from public accountability, TISL is mindful that there exist allegations of several offences of bribery and corruption, which must be dealt with using the full strength of the anti-corruption framework, not limited to the mandate of the CoI.
In all instances of alleged bribery, TISL reiterates the need to remember the existence of a bribe giver and a bribe taker. Whilst the CoI is empowered to provide recommendations to the President, TISL wishes to highlight the power vested in the Attorney General’s Department to institute actions based on evidence produced before the CoI, particularly the acceptance of a bribe, under the penal code.
TISL is however concerned that the only legal recourse to allegations of bribe giving is under the Bribery Act. The Bribery Act stipulates that prosecutions can only be filed ‘by or with the written sanction’ of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC). The gazette establishing the CoI states that it will not prevent other concurrent investigations and actions.
Under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, CIABOC has been empowered to initiate action on their own motion, without the need for a complaint being made. In a response to a RTI application by TISL, CIABOC revealed that not a single case has been taken up pursuant to this power, as at 30 April 2017. TISL notes that the allegations being made go directly to the mandate of CIABOC.
TISL calls on the Attorney General’s Department and the Commissioners of CIABOC to exercise their mandate and restore public confidence in anti-corruption processes.