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Govt publishes Anti-Corruption Authority Bill

Archive Photo by Johnny Bugeja.

The Gibraltar Government has published a Bill to establish an independent Anti-Corruption Authority for Gibraltar.

In a press statement, No.6 Convent Place said this is part of their commitment to increase public accountability and transparency in Gibraltar and to create a modern regulatory framework in all areas of public responsibility.

The Bill is divided into six Parts and a Schedule, which not only creates the authority, but also sets out in detail the authority’s composition, duties, powers and functions, immunities and protections, conflict of interest provisions, confidentiality, its powers to issue guidance and cooperate with other domestic authorities.

“This Government has embarked on a deep reform of standards in Public Life.” Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said

“The publication of this Bill is but the next step on this journey which already includes the milestones of the publication of the first Ministerial Code in our history and more openness to tender awards and to the Development & Planning Commission process.”

“This Government will continue to lead on these issues and to deliver more transparency and more accountability than ever before.”

“This is a Bill we have wanted to deliver for some time. We had initial commitments to publish and implement it in 2011 and were persuaded not go down this route.”

“I am however convinced that this is an issue that has to be addressed and the best way to do that is to create a mechanism for reporting and investigation in a manner that will allow any properly founded allegations to be pursued and any ill-founded allegations to be properly discarded as such.”

“I look forward to the debate in the Parliament on this Bill and hope that if the Opposition believe that the Bill can be improved that we will be able to work together on doing so in a constructive manner.”

The Bill will ensure that the authority has all the powers and tools available to be effective and allows for the authority to institute an investigation itself or alternatively investigate a report that is made to it.

The authority will be empowered to investigate any corrupt conduct which would be an offence listed in the Schedule.

This includes fraud by abuse of position, bribery, misconduct in public office and cheating the public revenue whether or not the person being investigated is a public official.

The powers to investigate may also be used in relation to corrupt acts which took place at any time before this law is commenced, irrespective of whether the person involved in the corruption is or was at the material time a public official.

Following an investigation, the matter can be referred from the authority to the Royal Gibraltar Police. The RGP will then be able to use its full range of powers and expertise in bringing the matter to justice, the Government said.

It added that this allowed for the authority to concentrate on its own initial investigations and not require the duplication of resources between the authority and the RGP.

The Bill also contains protection measures in respect of persons who assist the authority with investigations, including employment protection and provision for offences where reports and investigations are not dealt with properly and in accordance with its provisions.

“Our Government has an excellent track record of working towards implementing reforms to deliver more transparency and provide even more robust anti-corruption structures in public life,” Minister for Justice, Samantha Sacramento, said.

“I am pleased that now the administrative and legislative burden which our jurisdiction has been under for the past couple of years, due to the Global Pandemic and Brexit planning, has somewhat relented, this important commitment has been able to progress.”

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