INTRODUCTION There has been recognition that the setting up of law enforcement authorities should be encouraged: Recommendation 27 of FATF reads: ‘Recommendation 27 Countries should ensure that designated law enforcement authorities have responsibility for money laundering and terrorist financing investigations. Countries are encouraged to support and develop, as far as possible, special investigative techniques suitable for the investigation of money laundering, such as controlled delivery, undercover operations and other relevant techniques. Countries are also encouraged to use other effective mechanisms such as the use of permanent or temporary groups specialised in asset investigation, and co-operative investigations with appropriate competent authorities in other countries.’
The Independent Commission against Corruption is currently the main investigatory body in matters of corruption and money laundering in Mauritius. The Commission was created by statutory enactment. Prior to its creation, the investigation of corruption issues was assigned to the now defunct Economic Crime Office
The areas of law dealt with by ICAC are enshrined in various acts: (i) The Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) (ii) Financial Intelligence and Anti Money Laundering Act (FIAMLA) (iii) The Mutual Assistance in Criminal and Related Matters Act
The ICAC is administered and managed by a Board. The Boar id assisted in its operational activities by: (i) the Corruption Investigation Division (ii) the Corruption Prevention Division (CPED) (iii) the Legal Division (iv) the Administration and Finance Division
THREE PRONGED APPROACH The ICAC has adopted a three pronged approach against corruption: (i) Educating (CPED) (ii) Investigating (Corruption Investigation Division) (iii) Prosecuting (Legal Division)
INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION For the ICAC is expected to collaborate with other agencies in the fight against corruption: (i) The Financial Intelligence Unit (ii) The Police (iii) The Mauritius Revenue Authority (iv) The Drug Assets Forfeiture Office
ADVANTAGES OF AN ANTI CORRUPTION AGENCY As a separate institution, with a supportive legal framework (the Prevention of Corruption Act), our anti corruption agency is an independent and autonomous agency. This guarantees no interference, political or otherwise, and allows for complete and effective enquiries. A high degree of autonomy allows us to insulate the institution from corruption and other forms of undue influences.
ADVANTAGES OF AN ANTI CORRUPTION AGENCY Another major advantage is the high degree of specialisation and expertise that can be achieved. Investigators with specific skills and financial backgrounds are also given every opportunity to evolve and gather more expertise by following training sessions by foreign experts from foreign Institutions such as the Serious Fraud Office, or the Office of Technical Assistance.
This in turn enables quicker investigations, faster action against corruption and officials who are committed to their tasks, and not subject to competing priorities of general law enforcement agencies. Faster and more efficient action results in early prosecutions and sager and early convictions. Ultimately, an anti corruption agency like ICAC sends the strong signal that the country as a whole takes anti corruption efforts seriously.
Invariably, with a high degree of autonomy, faster results and a higher rate of convictions, an anti corruption agency like the ICAC can strive to achieve a deterrent effect. This deterrent effect is also achieved to the immense impact education has on the population as a whole.
If the agency benefits from a high degree of autonomy, it remains nevertheless accountable. In Mauritius, for instance, both judicial and administrative accountability allow for the greater clarity in the assessment of the progress of ICAC. It also determine its successes and failures. The ICAC is thus accountable to the Parliamentary Committee, established by virtue of Part 6 of the Prevention of Corruption act 2002. The ICAC accounts for its investigative decisions through a separate mechanism, the Judiciary, as cases prosecuted in Court are naturally subject to the Court’s Judgment and Scrutiny
There are also hurdles to a successful anti corruption agency. A specialised anti corruption agency invariably entails costs. Administrative costs are most important, and adequate resources and a specific budget needs to be allocated annually.
A specialised anti corruption agency may not enlist public support as much as it wishes to. It may be subject to constant criticism in a particularly corrupt-prone environment in order to deter it from achieving its mandate. This may result in a certain isolation of the institution and no support in its tasks in countries and areas where corruption is serious and pervasive.
Finally, it may very well happen that the very institutions and department asked to cooperate with the anti corruption agency feel a certain rivalry or competition and are unwilling to work together. On occasions the specialised agency may even be requested to enquire on these specific agencies and departments, which creates tension between the institutions and a certain animosity.
TO RECAP ADVANTAGES Autonomy Independence Specialisation/Expertise Organisational Development and Maturity Faster Action Effective Insulation from Corruption Deterrence Clarity – Accountability Public Support DISADVANTAGES Budget allocation High Administrative Costs Isolation Rivalry between law enforcement agencies
Mauritius is currently exploring the possibility of setting up, specialised courts to cope with the highly technical nature of evidence that needs to be adduced at complex fraud and money laundering trials.
The Major advantage of specialised courts would be a more direct. Focused and results based approach in our court system. It would help to avoid the considerably lengthy delays that occur in case processing in already overburdened generalist Courts. Such a targeted approach would allow a higher proportion of conviction without considerable delay, and in turn heighten public confidence in the Judicial System.
It is also hoped that with the advent of specialised Courts other Judicial Innovations such as Electronic Presentation of Evidence (EPE) may be considered. Courts would be equipped with computer monitors to facilitate the electronic display of documentary evidence, with a more practical and improved justice delivery. This concept had initially been run on a pilot basis on a select number of courts in the UK.