Though cases of corruption are increasing, it is seldom seen any authority taking action over it. The main reason is that such cases tend to drag along in the legal process and also because the instructions of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) are largely ignored.
The ACC is currently investigating over more than a 1,000 corruption cases, most of which are Council issues and are not cases which involve huge sums of money. In such cases the instructions provided by the commission are taken into account by institutions in question, but when of a huge magnitude arises, advice or instructions by the ACC is not considered.
“In most of the cases submitted to the ACC, our opinion on how things should proceed is considered, but what’s worrying is that our recommendations are ignored when it comes to cases of huge magnitude. That nothing is done in regard to these cases,” ACC’s Vice President Muavviz Rasheed said.
Amongst such cases he highlighted are the handover of the English Preparatory Secondary School (EPSS) and Male English School (MES) to run international schools in the buildings, the case regarding Villa Colleges Canteen, the case of the Border Control System and the assignment of Heavy Load Private Limited to reclaim more land on the island of Kaafu atoll Thilafushi. In all these cases recommendations made by the ACC had not been considered.
According to Muavviz EPS and MES were handed over in a manner that facilitates the second party involved to reap illegal benefits off government property and that it has been two years since the commission had asked the government to take action on the matter.
Even though the ACC has alleged corruption in the assignment of Heavy Load to conduct reclamation work on Thilafushi and in the case of installing a border control system the government had not acted in accordance with recommendations made by the ACC. There are several other case in which the government has chosen to forgo the assistance provided by the ACC.
The Anti Corruption Act necessitates that the recommendations and orders by the ACC should be followed by everyone. But when it comes to cases of national interest recommendations forwarded by the commission is nothing but "a blank scrap of paper” which is an obstruction to curbing corruption.
Muavviz explained that if any recommendation made by the ACC regarding a case has a negative effect on a private company engaged in a contract with the government the best course of action would be to pursue the case at court and even now there are several similar cases proceeding at court.
“When the ACC makes a recommendation it has to be checked if whether the government considers it or disregards it. If the recommendation is indeed disregarded then a solution must be found through the judicial process. If the state considers our recommendations the next issue would be to annul the agreement between the government and the second party involved and even if the agreement has to be annulled through the judicial process the government will consider if it benefits or loses from following the recommendations made by the ACC, if whether the people benefit or if another party gain illegitimate profit,” Muavviz explained.
“So far none of our recommendations have been cited as bad, so action needs to be taken on them.”
Most of us unaware of the small scale corruption cases the ACC handles. That’s because the media does not take interest in such cases. However when it comes to big cases the media is very attentive and the people take more interest as well and so if the government disregards the ACC’s recommendations on such cases the task of curbing corruption in the country becomes more arduous. It would also be hard to believe that the government and involved institutions have the will to take action against corruption.
The other disadvantage is that when the government ignores that recommendations made by the ACC on cases of huge importance it risks the chances of incurring on itself substantial financial losses.