20 June, 2024

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Government Misleading The International Community Re: Anti-Corruption Action?

By Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

The Daily FT of 23rd January 2024 published a report regarding a meeting the Minister of Justice had with the German Ambassador. It was titled “Legislation to combat bribery and corruption in Sri Lanka completed – says Justice Minister”. This article went on to note quoting the Minister- “He said politicians have been blamed for the bribery and corruption in the country and the people have reached the point where they are rejecting the politicians; as this situation is harmful to the country’s democracy. With a view to change this, the amendment for the regulation of election expenses and the Anti-corruption Act have already been passed”. The Minister said the foundation has been laid for a corruption free and disorder free Sri Lanka.

Most regrettably, several key lacunae in the legislative framework for effective control of bribery and corruption yet remain to be enacted; whilst the effective enforcement of the existing laws and regulations fall far short of best international practice expectations.

The essential key additional legal reforms yet pending, which have been advocated for well over two years, in correspondence with the present Minister Justice are noted below:

1. In addition to the offence currently specified as ‘Corruption’ in section 111 of the Anti-Corruption Act, No. 9 of 2023, enact a new “Misfeasance in Public Office Law”, where an offence is committed when:

* a public officer acting as such

* willfully neglects to perform their duty and/or willfully misconducts themselves (with willful being defined as “deliberately doing something which is wrong knowing it to be wrong or with reckless indifference as to whether it is wrong or not)

* to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder

* without reasonable excuse or justification

thus, allowing the public to claim damages from such offenders, without having to seek public interest litigation by way of Fundamental Rights petitions before the Supreme Court.

2. Amend and update the Prevention of Money Laundering Acts, including provisions

* for the avoidance of the presently problematic interpretation and restrictive provisions relating to applicable “Jurisdiction” references, currently challenged in Court Proceedings

* to introduce more efficient, effective, accountable and confidentiality guaranteed processes in filing Mutual Legal Assistance Requests; and the transmission and response processing systems and accountability; including improved communications systems with third party jurisdiction authorities

* to facilitate a more efficient, effective, accountable and confidentiality guaranteed processes and systems in making Police to Police, Police to Financial Intelligence Units networking

* to facilitate a more efficient, effective, accountable and confidentiality guaranteed processes and systems empowering the Police and Financial Intelligence Agencies in processing Suspicious Transaction Reports

3. Review and take reform actions essential as a consequence of Sri Lanka’s formally agreed Commitments Post the UK Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016 and its follow up meetings

4. Ensure that all International Conventions and Treaties relating to Serious Financial Crimes, Bribery, Corruption, Money Laundering, Recovery of Proceeds of Crime and Mutual Legal and Investigative Assistance etc:

a) Which Sri Lanka had failed to be a signatory

b) Which Sri Lanka is a signatory but failed to have them ratified by Parliament

c) Which Sri Lanka is a signatory and had it ratified by Parliament but have not taken to implement the commitments as well as use in law enforcement the opportunities opened through them to be made effective in law and are effectively and with commitment leveraged by law enforcement authorities

5. Enactment of a new Proceeds of Crime Act – A finalized draft of the “Policy and Legislative Framework of the Proposed Proceeds of Crime Act of Sri Lanka”- developed by a multi-disciplinary local and foreign technical advisory group in late 2018, under the leadership of a high official of the Attorney General’s Department, currently adorning a seat in the highest Court in Sri Lanka, is available to shorten the time necessary in the enactment. This proposed enactment embodies and satisfies all the commitments under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the pre-requisites under the Financial Action Task Force framework. This draft can now easily be updated taking account of the new developments in Proceeds of Crime Acts of UK, Australia and Canada and latest directives of the Financial Action Task Force.

6. Serious Financial & Organized Crime Agency Act – for the establishment of a Serious Financial & Organized Crime Agency in Sri Lanka as a part of the Sri Lanka Police, resourced by competent persons and systems. Such a legislative framework can be benchmarked with the United Kingdom enactment on Serious Organized Crime and Police Act of 2005 and the supporting enforcement agency can follow the framework of the structure and operations of the Directorate of Enforcement in India and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence India.

7. Setup an Independent Office of a Criminal Prosecutor – This new unit being independent of the Office of the Attorney General; and it can benchmark the framework of the Crown Prosecution Services of the UK.

8. Company Law Reforms – Expand the Provisions of Part XXI- Offenses of the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007 –

9. Inland Revenue Act Reforms – Making Transfer Pricing Audit Certification compulsory for all entities with turnovers exceeding Rs 500 million per annum, by amending the current regulations; refer gazette under Section 194 of the Inland Revenue Act, No. 24 of 2017 on December 31, 2018; No. 2104/4.

10. Enforce Codes of Conduct and Ethics – All Persons engaged in management capacities in State and Private Sector establishments with turnovers in excess of Rs 500 million in any year (including those engaged as directors, advisors etc.) to be compulsorily bound by appropriate Codes of Conduct and Ethics, including binding commitments to Whistle Blowing, Non Compliance with Laws and Regulations Reporting (NOCLAR), Conflicts of Interest Declarations and Commitments to act in good faith and in the best interest of the entity and the state; and to exercise the degree of skill and care that may reasonably be expected of a person of knowledge and experience and not be reckless or grossly negligent

With all of the above essential legal reforms yet to be enacted into law and enforced, the Sri Lanka Government is not only fooling itself; but also misleading the international community, if it believes that the good governance and anti-corruption related reforms have been successfully completed.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    1

    Misleading is what our leaders and legislators have been doing for the past 75 years.

  • 14
    0

    The legislation to combat bribery and corruption is completed in SHAM Lanka.ssid WR
    Great , I guess Wijedasa is still functioning as Minister from his prison cell. He further added a foundation has been already laid for corruption free Disorder / pandemic
    free Sham Lanka. Who said politicians have ZERO intelligence ????

    • 7
      0

      Thanks to Justice Minister, Sorry Lanka was rated 118 position in global corruption index. Pakistan 113 , India below 100.

      • 0
        0

        Not sure about the authenticity but worth pondering. Some facts mentioned are already known to many. Apparently Anonymous hacker

      • 2
        0

        Not sure about the authenticity but worth pondering. Some facts mentioned are known to many. Apparently Anonymous hacker group released a detailed report on illegal assets of Rajapaksas in Lanka and abroad worth Billions of Dollars. The documents released are in two parts titled R-S papers by A.

  • 9
    2

    Can anyone find someone more naturally corrupt by inclination than Ranil?

    To their credit, the Rajapakses found him ………. and gave full freedom for his innate inane inclinations. :))

  • 5
    0

    Well said C Jayaratne

  • 2
    0

    Masters of deceit .

  • 7
    0

    What happens in S/L is the lack of forward-thinking in enacting any legislation. The only criterion is how to tackle a situation that has arisen as a result of a protest or criticism leveled against the functioning Government or the political outfit in power. It is been proved with every type of legislation that has been introduced since the advent of the Government of Pohottuwa under Gota and presently under Ranil W/Rajapakses. In introducing such legislation even overlooking the directives of the highest court, SC. has been portrayed in the “Online Legislation” that was passed a few days back.
    The Minister of Public Security, Thiran Alles who brought this legislation to Parliament dared to tell the House, when questioned as the to SC ruling, that those “Amedments” could be considered at a later date, but what is needed is the pass the legislation now. Doesn’t this indicate the “Lunacy” of his reasoning and the hap-hazard manner of bringing in legislation? The irony is, that even the Minister of Justice, Wijedasa Rajapakse who blows his trumpets, remained silent and supported it at the Cabinet and Parliamentary levels.
    The above is a classic example of the “Hateful” and “Illogical” thinking of Law Makers and the criteria that prompt them to introduce legislation.

  • 2
    0

    The Justice Minister, just like every other minister in this country, is doing his job in an entirely half-hearted manner. And they do so even after realizing the country has fallen into a very deep pit. Whenever they condescend to work at all, they prove to be shoddy workers, who overlook the really important things.

  • 3
    0

    Thank you, Mr Chandra Jayaratne, for your steady and consistent insistence on certain standards.
    .
    You have asked for common-sense measures such as building into our system of governance the powers to be given to voters to recall their representatives, etc.
    .
    But all this falls on the deaf ears of Ranil Wickremasinghe. More “aragalya” type opposition to the government is necessary. I’m glad that the SJB, led by Sajith Premadasa has decided to take to the streets. No, I’ve not suddenly become a supporter of his party. However, it is clear that all have to start protesting against the actions of Ranil who was only appointed Interim President. We have no way of recalling this man whom we never even voted for.

    • 2
      1

      SM,

      One another link for you.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TknTmUE3s0c

      I think Kabir Hassim is telling the truth. What is your opinion on this ?

      Why on earth was the JVP unable to stand against taking action on the Tsunami robbery.
      Can you answer please?
      Please pass this on to your Vijita Herat so that they can reciprocate …. Please do so.

      • 3
        0

        Fear LM : You have asked for the opinion on the speech made by Kabir Hashim.

        Please read the 211 comments (at the time I listened to that link you gave) that appeared below the video. You will no doubt realize what a frantic attempt is being made to DISTORT the history up to those meetings that AKD conducted in the USA. This Kabir “Goiaha” has not considered the congregation that he was addressing. I think they are all “Ex Armed Forces” personnel. They all know and will not forget how the then UNP Government of which Kabir was a Minister acted during the LTTE war. Remember the “CFA” Ranil W signed with LTTE on the compulsion of Erick Soluhman of Norway even without seeing the physical presence of Prabhakaran? Wasn’t Kabir Hashim a Minister of that Government?

        Mr Friend! All these “Pandits” of UNP, SJB, SLPP, and all other political outfits have been FRIGHTENED of the advances made by the NPP because they know for sure their FUTURE is destined to be extinct. So Kabir and others are singing MARA GEE.

  • 5
    0

    That someone is listing how corrupt Sri Lankan systems and their politico-social arrangements are, is quite unnecessary. It lends some respectability to these filthy rogues who are utterly shameless to even discuss anti-corruption with an external entity (for whatever shady purpose). They have been fooling the people, and external lenders and investors so much that no one looks at Sri Lanka as being in any way a reliable partner. To write about these scumbags itself is a waste of time as it achieves nothing new.

  • 4
    0

    If there’s one thing the politician values above integrity, it’s corruption.

  • 2
    0

    No other system facilitates, provides space for deception, fraud hypocrisy at every turn, theft, embezzlement, loot, wastage, daylight robery of public funds, open favouritism, nepotism, cronyism towards friends and relatives, prejudice against unfavourables, get away with revenge, murder, torture, imprisonment of enemies AND fool the public ad infinitum than this system of DEMOCRACY of party politics.. We are brainwashed to accept this as the most superior political system ever invented by man. Our armed forces are sworn in to protect the system and these cheaters, criminals, charlatons, drug peddlers at the cost of their life .
    No wonder most ancient philosophers like Plato despised this system as the only way for the imbeciles to come to power.
    .
    Soma

    • 5
      1

      soma

      “……… ….. Our armed forces are sworn in to protect the system and these cheaters, criminals, charlatons, drug peddlers at the cost of their life .”

      Forgive me for being bit thick, can I remind you of impunity that is widely available for Police, armed forces, ….. murderers, rioters, ……. thugs, ….. saffronistas, rapists arsonists, …… politicians, …. ?

      I admire you for your ability to remember history and events selectively.
      Keep up your ……

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