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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

AGC: New corruption laws to tackle public office power abuse

Quratul-Ain Bandial

THE Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) yesterday announced the introduction of new corruption laws to address abuse of power and misconduct in public office.

The new laws will allow legal action to be taken against civil servants who fail to carry out their duties to a “high ethical standard”, said the AGC in a statement issued yesterday.

Following extensive discussions between the AGC and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, several amendments have been made to the Prevention of Corruption Act.

New offences have been included in the legislation, criminalising the use of public funds for private purposes; giving undue preferential treatment; misuse of information acquired during the course of duty; and allowing private interests to come into conflict with public duties.

The legislation also states that any public officer who seeks to interfere or influence the “appointment, promotion, suspension, demotion or dismissal” of any other public official, can be prosecuted under the new laws.

Similarly, any civil servant who demonstrates “willful misconduct or neglect of duty” to a degree which amounts to abuse of public trust, is considered guilty of an offence.

The punishment for all the new corruption offences is seven years’ jail and a $30,000 fine.

The AGC added that offences can be committed without the receipt of gratification or monetary benefit.

The legal definition of “public body” has also been changed in the legislation, to include government-linked companies and statutory bodies, such as the Brunei Economic Development Board, Brunei Shell Joint Ventures, Royal Brunei airlines, among others.

The new laws came after His Majesty, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, lambasted police for corrupt practices last March.

“The main purpose of the amendment is to address the concern of His Majesty… during a working visit (paid to the) Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) Headquarters… in respect of corruption in the form of abuse of powers for personal interest,” said the AGC.

During the visit, His Majesty cited several cases of police corruption, including the case of a high-ranking police officer accused of accepting a luxury car from a convicted criminal in exchange for helping him cross the border illegally.

In a fiery address to police officers, the monarch accused RBPF personnel of “elements of lawlessness” such as involvement in gambling, drinking and smuggling banned goods, as well taking bribes to “look the other way”.

Sumber - The Brunei Times

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