A follow-up research by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) found that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) harasses politicians of the opposition party but it is soft to the ruling party politicians.
TIB said the ACC is not free of political influence and fails to act neutrally when dealing with corruption and the commission is influenced by the ruling party directly or indirectly while implementing the policy of zero tolerance.It said independence of the ACC is limited to paper only though legally the anti-graft watchdog’s has a lot of power.
TIB came up with the observation on Tuesday at its Dhanmondi office in the capital while presenting a follow-up of its research about the performance of ACC conducted in 2016-2018. TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, “ACC plays a biased role and does not take equal measures against all and we have hardly seen ACC making significant progress with big corruption cases like that of BASIC bank.”
“We have found some progress in the activities of ACC during the period but there’s no progress in overall perspective,” he said.
“The provision of requirement of prior government permission in filing cases against government officials must be repealed as it is unconstitutional.”
He further said ACC must make the recruitments of its chairman and commissioners more transparent to keep its dignity intact.
Shahzada M Akram, senior programmme manager of Research and Policy of TIB, and its manager Shammi Laila Islam read out the research findings at the press conference.Quoting the research findings, they said a total of 47,549 complaints were received by the ACC in 2016-18 but only 3,209 (6.75%) complaints were processed for further enquiry where the international standard is above 66 percent.
During the period of 2016-2018, the ACC filed 848 cases out of 4,038 enquiries (21%) but the international standard is 75%. The ACC conviction rate was increased from 40 percent to 57.7 percent in the 2016-18 years but the standard is above 75 percent.
Considering the volume of capital flight from Bangladesh (around US$5.9 billion in 2015), the amount recovered by ACC (BDT 1,532.9 million as fines and confiscations) is not significant.
TIB said people have negative opinion about how ACC carries out investigations into multiple allegations of similar magnitude. Even ACC officials have said people lack confidence in them.
People believe that ACC gives importance to petty graft allegations while there is no visible success in netting the ‘big fish’ and there are concerns over ACC officials’ skills and professionalism.
“The commission usually fails to complete most of the investigations in time. There are also allegations that ACC officials take bribe,” the report said.
The report further claimed that the investigations carried out by the ACC were below the standard and as the rate of success compared to the number of cases filed with the commission was unsatisfactory.
ACC’s overall score secured in the TIB’s follow-up assessment is 60% out of 100 which is a moderate category and it was 61.22% in first assessment reveled in 2016.
Among the 50 indicators, the ACC scored high in 21 indicators (42%), moderate in 18 indicators (38%), and scored low in 11 indicators (22%).
The highest score was achieved by the ACC in ‘prevention, education and outreach’ (75%), followed by independence and status (67%) and ‘Cooperation and external relation’ (67%) and the lowest score achieved in ‘detection, investigation and prosecution’ (44%).