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OLUCOME presents some operational strategies for recovering public assets

ByWebmaster

Mar 25, 2023

BUJUMBURA March 25th (ABP) – The strategies to be implemented to recover embezzled public funds were at the center of exchanges between Burundian civil society actors and media representatives who participated in a workshop which was organized on Thursday March 23, 2023, in Bujumbura, by the Observatory for the Fight against Corruption and Economic Embezzlement (OLUCOME).

Two themes, namely operational strategies for the recovery of public assets and statistics on the recovery of embezzled funds in Burundi for the 2018-2022 budget year, were on the agenda of the workshop. They were developed respectively by Me Ernest Ndikumukama and Gabriel Rufyiri, chair of OLUCOME.

Me Ndikumukama pointed out that the “embezzlement of public funds” is an offense ranked as a crime which can be punished by a penal servitude of 10 to 20 years and a fine of 50 thousand to 1 million BIF.

Thus, Me Ndikumukama proposes some amendments to the anti-corruption law for more efficiency because, he said, the latter has gaps that deserve to be filled. He proposes, among other things, to make the declaration of assets compulsory for public officials for more transparency, as is done in other countries.

He also proposes to provide for mechanisms for verifying and monitoring declarations of assets, the administrative and criminal prosecution of persons guilty of embezzlement and illicit enrichment, sanctions against persons in authority who have not declared their assets while they are required to do so, provide for sanctions against public figures that make declarations late and those who intentionally make false declarations.

                                                                                               View of the participants

Me Ndikumukama also suggests systematically transmitting to the competent courts and tribunals the presumptions of embezzlement of public property contained in the investigation and control reports of the police services and inspection of the public prosecutor’s office for criminal prosecution. He also insisted on the implementation of all embezzlement trials that have become res judicata, the innovation of the legal framework for the recovery of public funds.

Other avenues of solutions proposed to effectively fight against corruption and related offenses concern the strengthening of synergy between public and private actors, the modernization of the legal framework for the prevention and recovery of public funds embezzled.

Regarding statistics on the recovery of embezzled funds in Burundi for the 2018-2022 fiscal year, Gabriel Rufyiri said that the General Prosecutor’s Office at the Anti-Corruption Court recovered 524,867,608 BIF and 500 US dollars in 2018, 1,219,704,079 BIF and 20 US dollars in 2019, 769,173,201 BIF and 6,873 US dollars in 2020, 205,829,967 BIF in 2021 as well as 242,788,832 BIF and two houses with title deeds in 2022. Mr. Rufyiri notes that the fight against the embezzlement of public funds is a matter for everyone as provided for in the constitution of the Republic of Burundi in its article 69.

The participants in the workshop made a series of recommendations centered mainly on the denunciation of the perpetrators of embezzlement of public funds, the improvement of the efficiency of the courts and tribunals in charge of corruption and related offenses, the strengthening of the citizen action, the contribution of the media which will have to resort to investigative journalism for more efficiency, the work in synergy of all the actors involved in the fight against corruption, and so on.

Note that this discussion session was assisted by the administrative, political and legal director at the Ministry in charge of the Interior and the adviser to the mayor of the city of Bujumbura in charge of administration, Mrs. Anitha Nimbona.