ACC shelves high profile investigations

By Maria Kandjungu

ANTI-CORRUPTION Commission (ACC) Director-General Paulus Noa has said that the anti-graft body will shelve investigations for most of its high-profile cases owing to budgetary constraints.

This comes after the ACC was allocated a paltry N$2 million for high profile investigations. Noa said the ACC has 17 high profile cases, adding that N$2 million will not be sufficient to effectively conclude investigations.

He said that at least 50 percent of the allocation will go towards investigating the Fishrot scandal, which spans across eight foreign countries.

“With the little money that we got we will not finish most of these investigations. We got N$2 million, half of that money as you can imagine will be spent on the Fishrot case alone,” Noa stated.

ACC, who estimated the financial needs for the period 2020/21 at N$70 203 600 has only been allocated N$61 612 000 by treasury. An amount of N$24 545 000 is earmarked for investigations.

Of that amount, N$20 208 000 will cover remuneration and related expenditure for investigating officers whilst N$2 287 000 is earmarked for outsourced expertise for complex investigations that require specialised skills.

It is with regard to the budget item for outsourced specialised skills that the ACC anticipates a shortfall of N$6 300 000 for the year 2020/21.

Noa told Confidente this week that the commission needed at least N$8 million to continue investigations on their high-profile cases most of which need outsourced experts to assist with forensic investigations.

“If the little money that we got gets finished, forensic investigations will not be done. We need at least N$8 million for just forensic investigations for our high-profile cases and by high profile we simple mean they are so complex that they require us to outsource experts to assist our investigators.”

Noa noted that although the requested N$8 million for specialised skills would have also been peanuts and not sufficient, it would have at least allowed them to continue with the next step of the investigations.

“Mind you these are not new cases. These are high profile cases that investigations have been going on for a while. Part of the work is done by ACC investigators but now they need additional specialists and you will not get an expert when you do not have funds to pay them,” the director added.

Noa also noted that they only have two forensic investigators who on their own cannot handle all the 17 cases requiring forensic investigations.

“The two forensic auditors that we have alone cannot finalise these cases at the speed necessary, they just cannot do it on their own. And if we do not have money, those investigations will not be completed. Unless we get additional fund during the year, we will be stuck on most of those cases.”

Noa further noted that one of the problems that they are facing is investigators leaving the institution for greener pastures.

“Their positions here are not attractive. My investigators are leaving and every time one leaves, files have to be stored to wait for a new person and when you get a new person, they are not always of the capacity needed to deal with those cases. Sometimes they are new to the system and they need to familiarise themselves with things, so you have to give them less complicated cases first.”   

Last year Confidente reported that the ACC was again struggling to do high profile investigation due to lack of funds. At the time ACC deputy director-general Advocate Erna van der Merwe stated that the anti-graft body’s special operations bank account was depleted, with only N$346 000 remaining.