- What is contained in the Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct contains rules governing the standard of behaviour expected of public officials in the performance of their public duties. Such rules prohibit:
- asking for benefits or favors of any kind in return for anything done, or to be done, or omitted to be done in the execution of duties;
- allowing private interest to conflict with public duties;
- communicating to anyone except in the performance of official duties, the contents of any document not available to the public; and
- serving as a partner or shareholder in a firm or company which has or had a contract with government;
A full set of such rules is set out in the Second Schedule to the Act.
- What legal force does the Code of Conduct have?
The value of a statutory Code of Conduct is that there usually are legal consequences attached to a breach of the Code. Under section 30 of the Act, any breach of the Code is a criminal offence attracting fine and/or imprisonment.
- How is a breach of the Code dealt with?
When a complaint is made under section 31, the Commission will examine the complaint to determine whether it satisfies the provisions of section 31 of the Act.
If the Commission is of the provisional view that the complaint is frivolous or does not pertain to a matter that the Commission is empowered to deal with it will so inform the complainant and give him an opportunity to be heard (see 6.3 for further particulars).
If after hearing the complainant the Commission determines that the complaint is frivolous or pertains to a matter which the Commission does not have the power to deal with, it may reject the complaint. The person against whom the complaint is made will have the right to take legal action against the complainant, but it shall be a defence that the complaint was not made maliciously, frivolously or in bad faith.
- How does the Act deal with gifts to a person in public life?
The Act requires that all gifts be reported in annual declarations of persons in public life.
However a report must be made to the Commission of such acceptance within thirty days of receipt of the gift or reward. The report must be made in Form 4 of the Third Schedule of the Act.
A person in public life shall not ask for or accept any money, property, benefits or favour of any kind over and above that which he is lawfully entitled to receive for the performance of his duties. He shall not for himself or for anyone else accept any gifts, benefits or advantage from anyone for doing or forbearing to do anything in the performance of his official functions. Also, he shall not allow private interests to conflict with his public duties or improperly influence his conduct in the performance of his public duties.
It is therefore an offence under the bribery and corruption provisions of the Act for a person in public life to accept a gift as a reward for doing or abstaining from doing any official act or as an inducement for any official act to be done or not done by him.
It is not unlawful to receive a gift or reward from:
- a foreign dignitary on the occasion of an official visit if there are reasonable grounds to believe that refusal would offend;
- a community organization on a social occasion where the gift or reward represents the work or achievement of the community organization; or
- another person on the occasion of the marriage, retirement, or transfer of the person in public life or such other social or celebratory occasion;
Where a gift is given as a gift to the State, or even if given personally, and the gift is not trivial, or was intended as a motive or reward for doing or abstaining from doing anything in connection with his official functions, or causing any other person to act or refrain from acting, the Commission shall direct the person in writing to deliver the gift to the Financial Secretary within thirty (30) days of receipt.
- What constitutes bribery and acts of corruption?
A person in public life shall not, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, solicit, or accept any advantage as an inducement to or reward for or otherwise on account of his giving assistance or using influence in the promotion, execution or procuring of any contract with a public body for the performance of any work or the supplying of any article or material.
'Advantage' includes any gift, loan, fee, reward or commission, any office, employment or contract, any payment, any service or favour. If he accepts such advantage he commits an offence under the Act.
Any person who offers an advantage to a person in public life also commits an offence under the Act.
- What is the role of the Commission as regards bribery and corruption?
The Commission is required to inquire into any allegation of bribery or act of corruption under the Act.
- Explain unaccounted property
Unaccounted property is property or pecuniary resources (resources in the form of or relating to money) which are disproportionate to a person's legitimate sources of income. The Act makes it a crime punishable by a fine and imprisonment for a person to be in possession of unaccounted property. This is provided for in section 47.
- What constitutes Legitimate Sources of Income?
Legitimate sources of income (received or receivable) include:
- Fees as director or consultant
- Professional fees
- Rent (from house or land)
- Gifts in kind or cash
- Other receipts or transfers
- What does "disproportionate to" mean?
'Disproportionate to' means that the acquisition of total assets under the control of the person in public life at the relevant date could not reasonably have been afforded out of his total lawful income. The essential question is whether such lawful income was or was not sufficient to finance the acquisitions which resulted in the particular assets being under the control of the person in public life on the relevant date.
- What is the role of the Commission as regards unaccounted property?
Under Part VII of the Act the Commission is required to conduct an inquiry into the source of income where a person in public life or any other person on his behalf is suspected by the Commission to be in possession of property or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income and to submit a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the President on the conclusion of any such inquiry.
- How does suspicion arise?
Suspicion implies a belief or opinion based upon facts or circumstances which do not necessarily amount to proof. The Commission must have or be provided with facts on the basis of which reasonable suspicion may arise.