Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission; No one should enjoy stolen wealth

ZAMBIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION Commission (ACC) says there is need to heighten sensitisation around the option of settlement for offenders as a way of accelerating recovery of stolen assets.
ACC corporate affairs manager Timothy Moono said in an interview that asset recovery was key and that there was need for people to be encouraged to declare what they have stolen from the State.
“We don’t want these people to enjoy the wealth. So we make sure we freeze their assets and keep them but prosecute them for their subsequent cases. This has nothing to do with a case of proving a case beyond reasonable doubt. It sits on balance probability. Is it possible that this person could have done this? That is simple enough. It is one of the easiest ways to get to criminals and demobilise them in regards to the assets that they acquired if you look at the conviction based prosecution. You are not certain how long it will take. Sometimes the witnesses are not there. Sometimes parties die. All these are factors that the criminal justice system has looked at and said it is beneficial to go for the proceeds of crime,” Moono said.

“We have been talking about it but probably there were no landmark cases which could point at what we were doing. But the Faith Musonda case, because it was a big case, it was very easy for people to relate to when we started explaining that this was under our law. We had similar cases before. In Livingstone, I remember where one former councilor we grabbed whatever they had and they had to do community service out of this and we went into plea bargaining. We have been doing it but yes the sensitisation needs to be heightened and we will do this.” (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Moono however said the settlement agreement was based on full disclosure of what one stole.
“It’s up to the law enforcement agency to declare that such an agreement is null and void because you lied and prosecute you for the original case or they keep the agreement but prosecute you on the subsequent information that you lied. The settlement does not absorb you from any case relating to the commission of the first offence that you will be protected. Any strand of cases that will come, one can be prosecuted for that! And as a law enforcement agency asset recovery is key,” he said.

Moono said members of the public must exercise patience with the processes of prosecution which take time.

“The issue is when you are called for a warn and caution statement, it is at the time, after the Commission having done its investigation have found out certain information that strongly suspects that someone has committed an offence. Because you are a suspect, they provide an opportunity for you to give your position on those allegations,” he said.
“So because you are warned and cautioned, a warn and caution statement means ‘we want to let you know you are at liberty to tell us whatever you want to say about the allegations but just note that we can use this same information against you in the courts of law’. That is however not the end of investigations because they may bring out a lot of information which exonerates them of information which points to other factors. An investigator will not ignore that information. An investigator will test that information to see whether what that person has said is the truth. You can then go back and check and it would tell you whether this person was lying or not. After that warn and caution statement, you find that this person was telling lies, then you know that your investigation has got a case. In regards to corruption cases, your next step is that you submit the case file to the DPP to go through so that consent to prosecute is sought. So it is a process.”

Moono said because criminals want to be seen to be clean, they hire best lawyers.
“That does not mean a case was not committed when there is an acquittal. In fact, the issue of the settlement is one other section which is contained in the anti-corruption Act under section 80 and it is different from the forfeiture of proceedings of crime under section 76 section of the anti-corruption Act which deals with recovery of assets,” he said.
“Section 80 defines the way of how a settlement is reached. This is where you know you have committed an offence and you begin to say ‘I think I have some remorse and I am ready to give up what I have stolen. So even individuals that are facing prosecution can come up to the Commission that ‘do not prosecute me I will hand over whatever I have stolen’. But the settlement agreement has to make sure that one makes full disclosure of whatever criminal offences they committed. That agreement is so strong that if they cheat, the earlier agreement will be declared null and void and you can be arrested still for the same offences that you are seeking settlement for.”

And Moono said ACC officers were mandated to declare assets every year.
“Where they find officers engaging in misconduct of corruption, they have to report. We do have an internal audit system. We have an integrity committee and a lifestyle audit. We are required to declare our assets annually. You can come and check how much I own,” said Moono.
“We are the only institution that has that kind of declaration apart from politicians. We will not shy away from saying we can also acquire property because some of the individuals we investigate want to tarnish the institution. We know there are such schemes.”

zambian observer

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