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Dhaka Tribune

Are ACC letters effective in probing corruption in govt offices?

  • Only 10% of complaints lead to investigations
  • Staff shortage hinders ACC's effectiveness
  • People’s perception of ACC activities not promising, says research
Update : 12 Aug 2023, 11:31 PM

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is inundated with daily complaints, arriving via different channels like mail, direct submissions and its hotline, 106. These complaints are initially reviewed by a scrutiny committee, which decides if the ACC should launch a probe into any matter.

However, there are some concerns about certain complaints being with the committee for several months.

The committee follows its own rules in evaluating complaints. If a complaint has all the necessary details and scores 80 or higher in its evaluation, only then is it investigated by the relevant department. For complaints scoring between 60 and 79, the ACC sends letters to government offices to address the issue. However, the actions taken by these offices after receiving the letters are often unclear, leaving the ACC uncertain in many cases.

Factors considered

The committee considers factors like details, the timeframe of the alleged offence, the relationship between the complainant and the alleged offender, complete addresses, the significance of the allegation, financial involvement, the complainant's name and address, and legal admissibility for verifying complaints.

ACC officials say only 10% of complaints received result in the commission initiating investigations. The remaining 90% of complaints do not lead to any ACC action. This results in many wrongdoers escaping prosecution. Staff shortages also contribute to the challenges the ACC faces. Additionally, those making complaints often struggle to provide accurate allegations, which further hampers the ACC's ability to carry out investigations effectively.

Daily and recent complaints cell

The daily and recent complaints cell is part of the ACC's enforcement wing. From this branch, letters are usually sent to government departments to investigate complaints and submit reports on them. ACC officials allege that only one or two government institutions give importance to ACC letters and others do not pay them any heed most of the time. 

However, the ACC often holds meetings with offices concerned in this regard. The commission urges them to complete their investigations quickly and submit reports. The ACC then takes further action after receiving the reports

Letters sent by ACC in 1.5 years

From January 1 to June 30 this year, the ACC cell sent 185 letters to various government offices. 

In 2022, 913 letters were sent to various government departments seeking action. 

However, the ACC could not provide any updates on these matters.

ACC sources say in the first three months of this year, the ACC selected 106 complaints from the complaint centre and 504 from other sources. The commission wrote 144 letters to various departments seeking action on the complaints.

The number of complaints closed or attached due to being outside the purview of ACC law is 38. The organization conducted 199 operations based on the complaints it had received, and only 13 of them were selected for investigation.

In the subsequent three months, from April 1 to June 30, the ACC took action based on 225 complaints. The ACC sent 41 letters on them to government offices. The number of concluded or appended complaints was 74. There were 87 operations, and only 15 were taken up for investigation.

A case study

The ACC conducts raids in almost every sector, including local government, civic services, land, health, education, transport, forest and environment, social service, cooperatives, engineering, agriculture and finance, and sends letters to the relevant offices for necessary action.

On February 5, a letter (memorandum No 4405) was sent from the ACC seeking a probe into a complaint and a report. The letter was sent to the registrar and director general of the Department of Cooperatives from the ACC's daily and recent complaints cell.

The Dhaka district auditor was given the responsibility of investigating the complaint.

The official has yet to complete his investigation seven months after the authorities received the letter.

A report on that letter has not been sent to the ACC yet, and no further request has been made by the ACC in this regard, sources say. 

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