Truth commission okayed: Graft suspects may avoid jail by confessing crimes, giving up ill-gotten wealth

Truth commission okayed: Graft suspects may avoid jail by confessing crimes, giving up ill-gotten wealth

The cabinet yesterday approved formation of the Truth and Accountability Commission (TAC), providing corruption suspects with an avenue to avoid imprisonment in exchange for confessions and surrender of their illegally earned wealth or the equivalent amount in cash to the state.

A government news release states that TAC has been created to curb corruption and reduce the massive load of corruption cases through quick adjudication within 30 days of filing.

"Any person who earned wealth through corruption could get clemency by disclosing his [sic] wealth statement to the commission voluntarily and depositing the same wealth to the state," reads the government release.

All citizens, other than those already convicted of corruption or charged in cases in connection with drugs, arms or prostitution, will have recourse to TAC.

The commission will hear case appeals within 14 days of submission and deliver its verdict in 30 days.

Failure to comply with TAC rulings will result in five years imprisonment.

People convicted by TAC will be barred for five years from contesting in elections to any public office ranging from the national parliament, to district, upazila and city corporations, and to professional organisations, and boards of financial institutions.

Media outlets will be fined Tk 1 lakh or persons responsible will be imprisoned for 6 months, or both, if ‘speculative or unsubstantiated’ reports are published or broadcast in attempts to influence TAC decisions.

The commission will have tenure of five months and will be comprised of three persons, with a chairman and two members, said a spokesman of the Chief Adviser’s Office. A commission will continue to operate till five months since its tenure has been over, to adjudicate pending cases.

The chairman and members of the commission will be selected from retired chief justices, retired appellate division judges, former military officials with ranks of at least major general, prominent citizens who excelled in their professions, and retired secretary-level government officials.

However, former chairmen of the National Board of Revenue, former chairmen of the Anti-corruption Commission, and former inspector generals of police are barred from being selected for TAC. The president will appoint the chairman of TAC from three selected members.

The commission will be passed through promulgation of the Voluntary Disclosure of Information Ordinance 2008, approved in the cabinet’s weekly meeting yesterday after months of scrutiny and vetting by the interim administration.

TAC will have four sub-commissions in Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Bogra, with its headquarters in Dhaka.

The idea of the commission emerged last year as an alternative for dealing with graft cases and graft suspects to give the offenders opportunities to admit to their culpability and to be instantly penalised monetarily instead of going through prolonged legal processes and convictions by courts.

original source

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