140 were shared for administrative action and 87 were dropped
In 2018, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) received 333 complaints with an average of about 28 complaints per month. This is 28 more complaints than in 2017.
18 cases were forwarded to OAG for prosecution while ACC prosecuted 12 cases on its own.
Of the 18 cases forwarded to OAG, six cases pertained to fraud and embezzlement, followed by four cases related to collusion and bribery in procurement, while the remaining pertained to conflicts of interest; abuse of functions; encroachment of government land; tax evasion; false claim and misuse of subsidies.
Similarly, of the 12 cases prosecuted by ACC, 9 were related to De-suung cases. The judgment on 46 cases was rendered convicting 45 individuals against the 57 defendants charged.
The ACC annual report 2018 shows that of the total complaints received, 141 complaints were received through the ACC webmail (which was a success for the past three years), followed by 109 complaints through post. Walk-in complaints have decreased to 73.
In addition, the ACC report 2018 states that from the 333 complaints received, 130 complaints were from known sources including 17 complaints referred by agencies and 203 complaints were from anonymous sources. However, complaints from known sources decreased by 3.6%.
As in the past years, abuse of functions was alleged to be the major corruption offence constituting 182 complaints. Allegations on embezzlement were also substantial with 23 complaints.
The report also states that there were comparatively less complaints pertaining to bribery, conflicts of interest, disproportionate asset, false claim and (non) protection of public property and revenue.
The ACC did not receive any complaints alleging abuse of privileged information, money laundering and trading in influence in 2018. Majority of the allegations on abuse of functions were in the area of resources with 86 complaints, followed by contract and personnel with 24 complaints each.
“Most of the allegations on abuse of functions in resources were against Local Governance (29), followed by Dzongkhag Administrations (10) and the MoE (10)”, the report added. Similarly, majority of the allegations of embezzlement were in the area of resources with 21 complaints.
As in the past, the highest number of complaints by place of occurrence pertained to Thimphu Dzongkhag constituting 119 complaints, followed by Paro Dzongkhag with 24 complaints. Gasa and Trongsa Dzongkhags had the least number of complaints.
Of the 119 complaints against Thimphu Dzongkhag, 58 complaints were related to abuse of functions, followed by embezzlement (6), conflicts of interest (4) and bribery (4). However, this consistent pattern of Thimphu Dzongkhag with the highest number of complaints may be attributed to the density of population, number of public agencies, economic activities, proximity to the ACC, etc, says the report.
Meanwhile, the highest number of complaints received in 2018 was against the Ministries with 84 complaints and this is a substantial increase from 52 in 2017 and 62 in 2016. On the other hand, complaints against Local Government have reduced slightly to 74 from 81 in 2017. Among the Ministries, the MoE had the maximum complaints (28) followed by MoAF (23).
The report states that of the 333 complaints received, decisions were taken on 330 complaints: 19 qualified for investigation, 47 were assigned for information enrichment, 140 shared for administrative action, 37 shared for sensitization and 87 was dropped.
Majority of the dropped complaints were received from anonymous sources, the report states, adding that of which maximum of 38 complaints were lodged through Website and substantial number of dropped complaints (53) were from the category, ‘others’ which were not related to corruption offences.
“In general, the dropped complaints were either general, vague and unsubstantiated, personal grievances or repeated complaints on which decisions had already been taken”, the report added.
In 2018, the ACC executed 13 search and seizure operations and detained five suspects during the investigation processes. The total monetary restitution ordered was Nu 186.93 mn.
Nonetheless, ACC has various challenges. They have shared that they suffered from chronic under-staffing because of difficulties in recruiting professionals with appropriate skills firstly and then retaining the existing ones and the financial and social benefits given to the ACC staff are not commensurate with the nature of the ACC’s work.
In addition, following the directives of the 7th and 11th Sessions of the Second Parliament, the RGoB has stepped up to fund short-term mandatory trainings of the new recruits. However, since the RGoB in general does not support long term studies, opportunity for the ACC professionals to avail masters program in specialized anti-corruption studies has been non-existent since 2015. This is directly affecting the attraction and retention of professionals in the ACC, report states.
With the support of the government and relevant stakeholders, ACC have secured a total capital budget of Nu. 210 mn for 12th FYP.