In response to the National Council asking for the ACC to validate if sections 54, 58 and 63 of the Anti Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011 (ACAB) had been violated in the government nominating Tenzin Lekphell as the next Secretary General of BIMSTEC, the ACC wrote back on 21st September that it can only form its opinion after ‘completing the due process of investigation on the matter which would take its own due course of time.’
ACC said that that the ACC, despite being mandated to take necessary step to prevent and combat corruption, does not have the legally required mandate to provide legal opinion on the possible contravention of the said provisions of the ACAB.
The ACC said that even after the investigation the opinion formed by the ACC would be further subject to scrutiny by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The ACC said it regrets to inform the NC Chairman that the ACC is legally constrained in providing any legal opinion.
In the meantime, the paper has learnt that based on the letter by the NC the ACC as per its practice has registered a complaint on the issue.
A compliant evaluation committee of the ACC has taken a look at the complaint and it has asked for more information to be collected.
Based on this the committee has to make a recommendation to the Commission on whether to launch a formal investigation on the case or not.
However, the fact that the complaint evaluation committee has not dismissed the case and is collecting more information is significant. The information collected is expected to be mainly desk top research and collection of documents.
The only problem at the moment is that the ACC does not have a Chairperson and Commissioner since they finished their term in July and it has only one Commissioner in place in the form of Commissioner Ngawang Pem who also signed the letter sent to the NC Chairman.
The Commission has to take the final call on whether to order an investigation or not based on the recommendation of the complaint evaluation committee.
The Commission is also the one which after the investigation decides on when to send the case to the OAG.
COVID-19 restrictions have also had an impact on ACC investigations as the movement of the staff has been reduced, and except to collect documents it cannot do extensive field investigations.
Also, as a caution, after the recent national lockdown the ACC has stopped calling people for interrogation.
The ACC is currently investigating around 30 plus cases with some cases ready to go to the OAG.
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