Publication: Pretoria News Issued: Date: 2004-07-30 Reporter: Karin Schimke

It's a Crime to Ignore Corruption

 

Publication 

Pretoria News

Date 2004-07-30

Reporter

Karin Schimke

Web Link

www.iol.co.za

 

From Saturday, any person in a position of authority who knows or should know about corruption in their organisation, but does not report it, will be guilty of an offence.

This includes director-generals, heads of state, provincial or municipal departments, partners in business partnerships, managers, secretaries and directors of companies.

Section 34 of the new Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act states that any person in a position of authority who knows or ought reasonably to have known or suspected someone in their organisation of corruption, theft, fraud, extortion or forgery involving more than R100 000 must report their suspicions to the police.

If they don't they could face sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment should the case go to the High Court.

Tommy Prins, formerly of the Scorpions and now with Deloitte, told a press briefing in Claremont that the new legislation was laudable and welcome in a country that lost billions of rands to white collar crime annually.

People in authority are expected, in terms of the new law, to take "prudent steps" to ensure that they work to stamp out corruption.

This could involve having in-house fraud units, making use of outside forensic fraud units, or if they have enough evidence, taking their suspicions directly to the police.

"The legislation gives a fresh focus to the government's fight against crime. White collar crime has no blood and guts, but the bottom line is every person in the street pays more for everything they need because of it."

The legislation, in conjunction with other recent developments in white collar crime fighting, now places South Africa as a country with one of the lowest tolerance levels for fraud and corruption. This in turn has an effect on its international standing.

The establishment of the Scorpions, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the introduction of the Fica legislation and the addition of plea bargaining in criminal cases have all contributed to a positive image of South Africa's determination to make it difficult for fraudsters to operate here.

"Fraud and corruption are one of the most insidious of offences. It is a vain and ignorant person who believes their organisation is unaffected by it," said Prins.

With acknowledgements to Karin Schimke and the Pretoria News.