Brunei stands firm against corruption

National 2 minutes, 45 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

SINCE the formation of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in 1982, a total of 2,532 cases have been investigated by the Bureau, ranging from corruption (giving and receiving of bribes), criminal breach of trust, submitting false financial claims, cheating, and sexual gratification.

In statistics released by ACB yesterday, to commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day which falls on December 9, it stated that action has been taken against 555 individuals, with 346 individuals having faced criminal charges in court.

A total of 239 individuals were convicted by the courts and sentenced to imprisonment and fines. Out of those convicted, 209 were public servants.

ACB said it remains firm in its commitment to transparency and clean government, adding that public servants found guilty of corrupt activities face dismissal, suspension with half or no pay, demotion, deprivation of financial incentives and permanent records of misconduct.

“The endeavour of combating corruption has to be a ‘whole of government’ effort involving the improvement of administrative processes within the public sector, as well as improvement of corporate governance standards within the private sector,” said the Bureau in a statement yesterday.

“Both the public and private sectors have key roles to play, particularly in providing a comprehensive and systematic… method in combating corruption, such as devising an internal risk assessment method to prevent corruption.”

This past year has not been without major corruption cases, with the courts seeing trials of immigration and customs officers for offences such as accepting bribes from fuel smugglers and foreigners seeking an extension of visas.

Mid-level civil servants have also been accused of corruption, with one education officer charged this December with accepting a $35,000 bribe from a food supplier in exchange for a three-year contract to supply food to local primary school.

In a bid to prevent a “culture of corruption” from taking root, in 2013 the ACB conducted 73 briefings for some 5,689 people in the public and private sectors, as well as schools and village consultative councils. A more concerted effort at socialisation – coupled with an increase in investigation and prosecution of corrupt practices – has improved Brunei’s ranking in Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’, rising from 44 to 38, out of 177 countries surveyed in 2013. With a score of 60 points, Brunei was rated as the second “cleanest” country in ASEAN. Only Singapore bettered Brunei in corruption rankings among ASEAN nations, ranking fifth overall.

However, no data was provided for Brunei Darussalam in the 2014 version of the Corruption Perceptions Index, which was released just last week. December 9 marks International Anti-Corruption Day, which commemorates the declaration of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

Since the adoption of the UNCAC as the first universal anti-corruption law, 173 countries including Brunei Darussalam have become party to the convention.

According to the United Nations, every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion is stolen through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of global GDP.

“Corruption is the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world,” it said.

The UN stated that funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

“Corruption does not just steal money from where it is needed the most; it leads to weak governance, which in turn can fuel organised criminal networks and promote transnational crimes such as human trafficking, arms and migrant smuggling and counterfeiting.”

The Brunei Times