By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Sierra Leone’s Parliament has on Thursday passed the Anti -Corruption amendment Act 2019 , a press release from the anti-graft agency has said.
According to the release, the Amendment Act provides for, among other things, increased penalties for offences under the Act; strengthens protection for witnesses and whistle-blowers; provides the ACC with alternatives to prosecution;in addition widens the scope of corruption to include that the accused ‘offered’, ‘solicited’, ‘obtained’ or ‘received’ in addition to ‘gave and accepted’ an advantage.
‘’ reduces the year-long requirement that persons who cease to be public officers have to file a declaration in respect of their assets; provides for administrative sanctions for public officers who fail to submit their asset declaration forms or knowingly record false, inaccurate or misleading information in the forms; introduces trial of those accused of corruption in absentia; limits the scope of public officer to declare their assets and imposes sanctions for non-compliance; and vests in the ACC Commissioner power to direct that contracts with elements of corruption in their processing may not be proceeded with after agreement with the National Public Procurement Authority,’’ the release stated.
Following the passage of the Bill, the Commissioner of the ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. had this to say: “The People’s Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2019 fully empowers the ACC to make corruption very expensive and more efficiently confront corruption at all levels; including preventing the signing of contracts that are NOT in the national interest.
“The Bill, which was first tabled in Parliament some seven months ago, was passed after going through the legislative stages and committees in Parliament, including a vote by Members of Parliament specifically on the “contracts clause”; and thereafter the entire bill, following a vibrant bi-partisan debate. The Bill now awaits assent by the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Brig. (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio to become Law,’’the ACC release ended.