Interview with ACCS chief executive May De Silva


‘Every person’s perception of corruption is different’


Every person’s perception of corruption is different, May De Silva has told Seychelles NATION in an exclusive interview.

Ms De Silva, chief executive (CEO) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Seychelles (ACCS) shared her views on corruption and gave an overview of the commission’s work over the past eight months as the world prepares to celebrate International Anti-Corruption Day on Saturday December 9.

This year’s theme for the day is ‘United against corruption for development, peace and security’.

Ms De Silva said she believes corrupt practices would involve acts such as bribery, doing favours for others while not following a transparent process and favouritism in regards to family and friends.

Giving an example of corruption she said when it comes to employing a family member rather than employing someone per their qualifications.

Ms De Silva said “corruption exists in Seychelles, it is real and it is not a perception”.

“There is a broad range of corrupt practices which can be found in the Anti-Corruption Act 2016 and the cases the ACCS receives are assessed using criteria set up under the Act,” she said.

As the International Anti-Corruption Day approaches, she feels the public should be informed of the level of work being undertaken by the ACCS since it was launched on April 27, 2017.

There has been the setting up of three different units – complaints, prevention and investigation ‒ to deal with corruption cases.

“Those units cover our mandate which is to investigate, detect and prevent corruption. To date we have received 58 complaints,” she said.

She said after the complaints are logged, the complaints department sifts through each case and once enough information is collected it is then moved to the investigation unit for further information gathering.

“At the complaints unit they will review whether the complaint has a corruption element to it, if it’s not a corruption-related matter then the complainant is informed or the case is referred to another authority. If the complaint is genuine and includes corruption then it is referred to the investigation unit which will then carry out further investigation and gather more evidence. Then recommendations can be made to the Attorney General (AG) to inform him of the person to be dealt with and taken to court,” she said.

Out of the 58 cases, 30 are with the investigation unit, 14 are at the assessment stage in the complaints unit, while five cases have been closed due to a lack of evidence, three have been referred to other authorities and six are pending awaiting supporting documents to register complaint.

Breaking down the figures, 32 of these cases are against government agencies, 16 against the private sector, five against the legal sector, three against sporting organisations and two against parastatals.

The top average reports are related to abuse of power or acts of bribery with 22 cases, 16 cases related to land and property and six cases related to construction tenders.

She acknowledged the high expectation from the public as they want to see results, but given the size of the commission, the number of complaints it has received is huge as it currently only have two investigators.

“We are kindly asking for the public to be patient as we are still in the process of setting up, recruiting new staff and putting the structures in place but we are really confident that with the increase of staff early next year we will be able to refer more cases to the AG’s office for prosecution,” she said

Meanwhile, results of the first survey done in Seychelles on corruption will be released on December 9, and Mrs De Silva noted that although there was poor response from the public it does not mean that the quality is not good.

The purpose of the survey launched a few months ago, was to establish the actual perception of corruption in Seychelles.

Mrs De Silva is appealing to everyone to make it their duty to behave with dignity and to follow a code of conduct when carrying out their work.

“We need to be open, honest and transparent in our decision-making especially for people in authority, whenever they make a decision it is logged somewhere and there is an explanation in how they have reached a decision so that there is no accusation of corruption. So if we follow good ethics and follow the code of conduct that is set out by the department of public administration (DPA) then corruption should in effect be eliminated,” she said.