The corrupt in Uganda are wrong because ending corruption in Uganda is an achievable goal.
We can win the fight against corruption in Uganda by changing out strategies and investing more resources in the fight against corruption. The first requirement in order to win the fight against corruption is to reform and strengthen the laws that constitute the regulatory framework against corruption in Uganda. The reforms need to address the following issues;
- Strengthen the Independence of the Inspectorate of Government by amending the Inspectorate of Government Act to guarantee it minimum funding, guarantee the Independence of the Inspector General of Government and the deputies, give the IG corporate personality and create a covert investigations department, among other reforms.
- Impose a death penalty for corruption offenses involving more than Ushs 500m. A death penalty is a deterrent sentence for corruption because it makes individuals afraid of the consequences of corruption. We have a natural desire to stay alive and the biggest loss a person can incur is their lives because livelihoods can be rebuilt from scratch.
- Make sentences for corruption offenses consecutive as a matter of law and impose a minimum sentence of 30 years for every corruption offense. Lenient sentences make corruption attractive because they reduce the price to be paid for plundering public resources. Very high sentences on the other hand are deterrent because they make the price for corruption very high. When a corrupt person is evaluating whether to be corrupt a high likelihood that he or she will spend decades in jail if caught will make it very likely that the person forgoes plundering public resources. With lenient sentences a corrupt person plunders public resources, illicitly enriches himself or herself and return from prison a few short years later to enjoy his or her loot.
- Impose a minimum fine of 1,000 times the money plundered by the Public officers in issue or Ushs 2 billion or whichever is higher. Very high minimum fines are deterrent because they allow the state to recover illicitly acquired wealth without first proving that it is proceeds of the corruption. Since it is difficult to trace illicitly acquired wealth and seperate clean assets from illicitly acquired assets, high fines allow the state to recover illicitly acquired wealth without going through the expensive process of connecting the assets to the crime.
- Create a regulatory framework for non conviction based asset recovery. Conviction based asset recovery is complicated and more onerous than non conviction based asset recovery because it doesn’t require the state to first obtain the conviction of the thief. Criminal convictions require proof beyond reasonable doubt yet civil trials are on the basis of proof on the balance of probabilities. Non conviction based asset recovery techniques such as taxation, fines and damages give the state easier avenues to recover illicitly acquired wealth. Fines and taxation if properly structured can deter accomplices such as corporations, financial institutions and other agents because they affect the interests of the accomplices. Imagine a bank being fined a hundred times it’s annual revenue for facilitating corruption or failing to properly enforce anti money laundering regulations. This will deter banks from engaging in such conduct for fear of incurring such high penalties.
- Impose an asset registration requirement and provide the IG Access to all government databases. Cash transactions are onerously or even impossible to trace and thus a big favorite to criminals to launder illicitly acquired wealth. A thief can plunder billions of shillings from public resources, buy whatever assets and goods he or she dreams of and live like a king using illicitly acquired cash without any way of tracking or tracing the illicitly acquired wealth and without any credible way of connecting the cash to the thief. High prevalence of unregistered interests allows thieves to buy land, cars and other assets using untraceable cash without a single link to the thief and their crime. A legal requirement to register all assets and transactions combined with high fines on nominees such as corruptions will limit the ability of thieves to hide their illicitly acquired wealth in unregistered interests. Actually corruptions can be barred from buying none business assets and prove the source of their capital before they are allowed to buy land. Every corporation that can not using tax returns and bank statements prove how it acquired it’s capital and the contributors of the capital should not be allowed to buy or own property.
- Give the IG the power to create and manage databases of property, assets and wealth. Information in the twenty first century is the key to investigative success. It allows the state to engage in meaningful asset tracing and recovery because when you know the income and expenditure of those with asses to public funds it is easy to connect assets to their owners, exposure those living beyond their means and to recover illicitly acquired wealth.
The above strategies are only suggestive and are not exhaustive. We have discussed these strategies at length and will continue to advocate for their adoption by Uganda.
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