Death of a corrupt official while court proceedings are ongoing will not save the family from losing its property.
This is one of the recommendations made by Members of Parliament to be included in the Anti-corruption Amendment Bill 2012.
John Ssimbwa, the Member of Parliament for Makindye East, while meeting a group of civil society organisations this afternoon, said they want the Bill to provide for confiscation of property under circumstances of death for defendants.
This is as long as the person was officially informed of the court proceedings before their death and investigations had commenced.
Ssimbwa notes that even though the constitution provides that only one person be liable for the crime, they propose that in cases of death the Civil Procedure Code Act be followed to recover the property.
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The MPs also propose that investigations and court proceedings should continue in cases where defendants abscond so that their property is confiscated. They mentioned an example of former Gender Minister Bakoko Bakoru, who ran into exile in the US after she faced investigations over mismanagement of National Social Security Fund (NSSF) during the infamous Nsimbe Housing estate saga. However, in cases where the property does not satisfy the confiscation order, the legislators propose that the investigators extend to defendants’ third parties such as relatives and business associates. But they must show proof that the property is linked to the defendant.
Parliament also proposes that government does not incur other expenses in the process of recovering, restricting and restraining but the defendant bears the burden.
The Bill is also making it an offence for those who have knowledge and information and it has been requested by the IGG and Police. It shall also be an offence to officers who are in office or not but are used by offenders to disguise, control and transfer their property.
He cites the case of former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Kazinda, whose mother is now assuming ownership of his property while some other individuals are trying to assist in the transfer of the property.
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Civil Society Organisations led by Patrick Tumwebaze, Executive Director Uganda Debt Network, note that corruption vices have escalated over the last three decades unabated.
The CSOs are now recommending that Parliament during the process of passing the Anti-Corruption Amendment Bill 2012 removes the proposed fine as an alternative to jail under section 26(1). They recommend that the provision be upheld since this will strengthen deterrence. In regard to section 30 of the Principal Act, where upon its contravention makes one liable to a fine not exceeding 20 million shillings, this should vary with the value of the property in question.
Section 53 of the Principal Act seeks to compel court to restrain the disposal of the property in possession of the defendant. However, the CSOs note that inclusion of confiscation of the property of close relatives may not be sound. They recommend a review concerning protecting the property of relatives of the accused since they may be innocent until proven otherwise.
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They also recommend that for scandals that involve grand corruption such as hefty resources, culprits should not be considered for fulfillment of Bail. This is the same position President Museveni has been pushing for cases such as rape, defilement, corruption and treason, among others.
MP Ssimbwa revealed that they completed discussions with government on Friday and is ready to table the Bill before Parliament. The first Parliamentary Counsel has been given up to the end of this week to draft the final Bill before it is gazetted and tabled.