Bribery Commission probing 60 cases of alleged graft, says head

Education sector complaints to the fore due to school admission tussle

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIAOBC) is investigating over 60 complaints of corruption and illegal assets acquisition against politicians including MPs, Provincial Councillors (PCs) and members of Local Authorities, Commission Chairman Justice D.J.De S. Balapatabendi said.

Justice Balapatabendi

Along with these the Commission is also investigating complaints against several senior public officials including departmental heads, he said.

“There are well over 60 complaints against MPs, PC members, Pradeshiya Sabha members, Mayors and Municipal Council members as well as senior officials including departmental heads,” Justice Balapatabendi told the Sunday Times.
He said that as most cases involve charges of recent acquisition of assets, the process is complicated as assets investigations take time.

“We have to go into bank accounts, assets and properties of these persons and we have to see whether their expenses during the period concerned were more than their income. When we are convinced that the allegations are valid, we send a show cause letter. It is only after giving that opportunity that we go to court against them,” he said.

Justice Balapatabendi said most of the complaints against politicians are still at an investigation stage but some have been sent letters to show cause.

The CIAOBC Chairman said that corruption remains most widespread in the education sector, followed by the Police and then at the level of local authorities.“Corruption in the education sector is going out of control because of the school admission issue. We get complaints against principals and teachers who ask parents for money to admit students. The parents give money and get their children admitted to school and then send us anonymous complaints which we cannot entertain,” he said.

Under the existing bribery and corruption law, complaints of bribery can only be investigated if the complainant identified him/herself as they are required to give evidence against the accused, he said.

With applications for school admissions for 2013 being received, the complaints coming in too have increased, he added.
Justice Balapatabendi said the majority of the complaints being lodged with the Commission are against public officials with whom the public come into contact on a regular basis.

“We have been accused of catching the sprats and not netting the sharks but there is a reason for this. The ordinary citizen goes to the grama niladhari’s office, the Pradeshiya Sabha, the police station or the District Secretariat to get some work done. So even if an official in any of those places asks for Rs.1,000, we receive a complaint and such persons are trapped by us. But no person comes and complains to us that the thoru, moru (sharks) have asked for a bribe,” he said.

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