8 Bahraini officials suspended for corruption
Manama, February 5, 2014
Eight government officials in Bahrain have been suspended in connection with 25 major corruption cases under investigation following audit report revelations.
The Cabinet originally referred 20 cases to the Interior Ministry's Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security Directorate, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, it added another five cases to the probe list yesterday.
Thirty-three other claims, which have been acknowledged as serious corruption cases, are still being reviewed by the Cabinet's executive committee which is chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier.
The committee is due to issue a final decision on the remaining cases on March 31.
It follows major revelations made in the National Audit Office's report for 2012, which listed a total of 462 violations in government bodies.
Minister of State for Implementation Affairs Mohammed Al Mutawa said five of the 25 cases have already been transferred to the Public Prosecution and another five will be referred for legal action within two weeks.
They include 13 violations at the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry, seven at Alba and one each at the Bahrain Flour Mills Company, the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR-AAA), Bapco, the Works Ministry and Housing Ministry.
"The executive committee is focused on adequate scrutiny of public funds and improved co-ordination among government entities," he said.
"We don't have red or green lights in relation to violators, and whether they are connected to others on top of the chain, justice will prevail. We are not concerned about individuals as we are more focused on violations.
"Since the violations were committed in 2012, even those who are not in power or have left their seats will be followed for justice."
Al Mutawa was speaking during a press conference held yesterday (February 4) at Gudaibiya Palace.
He said the violations were classified into three categories; clear-cut corruption, needs investigation and procedural abuses.
Al Mutawa said the 404 remaining violations, which fell in the procedural category, have been referred to his ministry.
Those involved have been given until February 27 to present measures to prevent misuse of public funds.
Al Mutawa said the executive committee has also started looking into the workings of the Nazaha Anti-Corruption Campaign, which encourages the efficient and accurate use of public funds.
He said all government bodies have been instructed to establish a grievances link on their websites.
This will automatically send a copy of the complaints to His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and the Crown Prince.
"The financial auditing directorate will also be re-launched under the Finance Ministry after it was deemed redundant years ago when the Financial Audit Bureau was established," added Al Mutawa.
"We will also have anonymous applicants and customers posing on our behalf at ministries, government bodies and companies to assess competency levels."
Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security Directorate director-general Major Bassam Al Miraj pledged to gather evidence against all officials involved in the 25 cases, which will be sent to the Public Prosecution for legal action.
"The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Interpol will help us if any of those wanted (in the cases) are outside the country," he said.
"We are also currently working with experts from Bahrain in technical cases like those related to Alba, but others from abroad will be also brought in."
Since 2011, a total of 72 cases have been referred to prosecutors in connection to the bureau's report and a verdict has been issued in one, added Maj Al Miraj. - TradeArabia News Service