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MACFE wants law against ‘marking up’ govt projects

 | May 23, 2016

Court action must be taken when it involves criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation, forgery, cheating or misconduct and mismanagement.

Akbar-SatarKUALA LUMPUR: The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Malaysian Chapter (MACFE) has warned, in a statement, that without effective action from the relevant agencies and stern action against culprits, the A-G’s Report will only remain a report. “It generates a culture of deviance with the irresponsible public officials continuing to commit the wrongdoing without any fear of being caught.”

“They know that stern action, including dismissals, will not be taken against them.”

MACFE wants not only stern disciplinary action to be taken but also court action when it involves criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation, forgery, cheating or misconduct and mismanagement. “This will also serve as a lesson to others in the service to think twice before indulging in such acts or behaviour,” added MACFE President Akhbar Satar in the statement.

The government can introduce and formulate common law for misconduct in public office, said MACFE. In Hong Kong, for example, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has the power to press charges for the offence of misconduct in public office.

The law should not be limited to only civil servants but cover cabinet ministers as well since they are the ones who make decisions, said MACFE. “The politicians are elected by the public and are expected to be responsible and accountable.”

With the proposed new law, said Akhbar, the country can fight leakages, wastage of funds and corruption much more effectively.

MACFE was expressing deep concern with the latest Auditor-General (A-G) Report’s revelations on weaknesses and mismanagement in government departments. “Many leakages are still seen to be openly occurring without fear, year after year,” said the statement. “This is evident every time the AG’s Report was presented in Parliament.”

The relevant parties need to assess if public funds are being well utilized and ensure that every relevant Minister and head of department was held accountable and equally responsible, argued the MACFE Chief in the statement. “There’s obvious failure to adhere to the set of financial procedures, management, and acquisition of high value, unnecessary expenses and underachieved targets.”

Many contracts, he noted, were alleged to have been dealt with by political lobbyists who were vendor or contractor-driven and as a result, marked up figures were added. “The additional figures are then tucked under the government allocation. These are actually bribes or kickbacks.”

Ultimately, lamented Akhbar, the marked up cost is either passed back to the public in the form of additional tax or the work completed would be of sub-standard quality. “There are also false figures, being not based on the market value for certain government contracts, but rather prices fixed earlier.”

“The claim is that it would be costly if market value is used.”

This is common especially in government acquisitions, charged Akhbar. “These form the main leakages.”

Officials who commit such offences are allegedly protected under the Esprit de Corps policy i.e. “spirit of oneness” that was overwhelming, continued the MACFE Chief. “The reprimand for these corrupt public officials was often merely a transfer to another department. No stern disciplinary action is taken.”

“There are also officials who even get promoted when in fact they have a record of poor behaviour or performance on their job.”

Attention needs to be given to these issues in order to uphold an image of good governance, argued Akhbar. “It would be very sad if it was not done.”


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