Anti Corruption team has no experts

By MFANUKHONA NKAMBULE on June 20,2010

Swazi Times

MBABANE – Government will continue to engage KPMG Management Services to investigate corruption at a huge cost because the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) does not have forensic investigators.

There have been complaints from some sectors of the society that KPMG has taken over the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Jabu Phakathi, the ACC Public Relations Officer (PRO), confirmed that the commission did not have forensic experts. Phakathi said the commission was making efforts to capacitate its investigation team in forensic skills through seminars, study tours and attachments.

She said financial resources remained a challenge for their quest to enrich the investigation team with forensic expertise. The PRO said the absence of forensic experts at ACC did not mean the commission was doing nothing or playing second fiddle in the fight against corruption.

The Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006, is silent on the qualifications of investigators.

However, there are certain qualifications set for the commissioner and his deputy.

Section 5 (1) provides that a person shall not qualify for appointment as commissioner unless that person qualifies for appointment as a judge of the High Court.

Experience

A person shall also not qualify for appointment as a deputy commssioner unless that person has acceptable academic qualifications and experience in law, accounting, economics, criminal investigation or any other related profession relevant to the functions of the commission.

She said fighting corruption required a holistic approach from all stakeholders, inclusive of government, the private sector and civil society among others.

Responding to a question that the ACC played second fiddle in the investigation of CTA, she said, these investigations were a result of a Commission of Enquiry that was conducted by KPMG.

Phakathi said when it was evident from the Central Transport Administration (CTA) that offences of fraud and corruption might have been committed, further investigations needed to be carried out.

She said it was only befitting that the ACC and police be involved, assisted by KPMG.

"The commission has no forensic experts. However, the commission is making efforts to capacitate its investigations team in forensic skills through seminars, study tours and attachments etc., but financial resources remain a challenge," said Phakathi.

She said the ACC did not have an agreement with KPMG to collaborate in the fight against corruption since her commission did not have forensic experts.

However, the PRO said, the ACC, in the course of any investigation, was at liberty to request for expertise from anybody who could be of assistance.

"The Anti Corruption Commission, ACC, has not been playing second fiddle in the investigations into CTA," said Phakathi.

"Fighting corruption requires a holistic approach from all stakeholders inclusive of government, private sector and civil society among others. The CTA investigations were a result of a Commission of Enquiry that was conducted by KPMG. When it was evident from the report that offences of fraud and corruption might have been committed, further investigations needed to be carried out. It was only fitting that ACC and the police be involved, assisted by KPMG."

She said fighting corruption would remain a shared responsibility.

Phakathi said the commission would continue to seek assistance from experts and law enforcement agencies in Swaziland.

These are complicated crimes – govt

MBABANE – Government says forensic investigations, by their very nature, require not only specialised skills but also experience in the field.

Sabelo Dlamini, the Assistant Press Secretary, said it required resources that could act quickly and decisively to uncover fraudulent and related activity.

He said cross border investigations were often complex matters.

He said KPMG had significant experience in the field of forensic investigations in both the public and private sectors. He said KPMG had access to specialist skills and advanced technology on a global level.

He said it was also a member of the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI).

Dlamini said KPMG had the required resources with the appropriate experience and expertise to meet the requirements of the government of Swaziland.

"It is worth noting nevertheless that government engages other reputable international forensic auditors. Most of such auditors have offices locally," he said.

"This is particularly the case in matters such as those currently being investigated by KPMG. These matters require a combination of skills, including investigators, accountants, lawyers and forensic technologies," said Dlamini.

"It is of vital importance that these matters not only be investigated so as to get to the core of the objective facts, but even more so, that the facts be gathered in such a manner that it could withstand scrutiny in a court of law, in those cases where the objective facts justify legal action," he said.

The spokesman said the role of forensic technology in such investigations served as an example in this digital day and age.

He said competent and effective investigations of fraud, corruption and related matters were hardly possible without highly skilled forensic technology specialists.

"More than often, it is necessary to gather volumes of electronic data, which, if coupled with digitalised paper documents, enable investigative teams to analyse evidence and piece together events and relationships underlying potential or actual irregular conduct, in a cost-and time effective manner," the assistant spokesperson for the government continued to say.

Dlamini said the significant amount of transactions conducted by both the private and public sectors in Swaziland involved a cross border element.

He said, should the need arise to investigate such transactions; it was important for those involved in such investigations to be able to deal appropriately with the differences in cultures, laws and legal systems.