Egyptian Parliament - File Photo
CAIRO – 9 October 2017: The parliament approved, in principle, on Monday the submitted amendments by the government to the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) law. The law will be further discussed for final approval on Tuesday.
The approved amendments included transferring the subordination of the ACA to the president, appointing the head of the ACA by the president following the parliament’s approval and recognizing the authority as a state body with technical, financial and administrative independence.
The law serves as a comprehensive anti-corruption law. It defines the concept of, and factors leading to corruption from the Egyptian perspective as “the behavior or attitude exercised by any official, by which the official may violate the ethical measures and codes of conduct, resulting organizational, behavioral, and financial contravention. The penalties for such contravention may vary from disciplinary punishment to criminal penalties.”
Moreover, the amendments introduced the creation of several bodies to fight and prevent corruption including creating a specialized national academy. The academy aims to build the capacity of the ACA staff in the area of preventing corruption in cooperation with specialized international anti-corruption bodies.
The ACA law also serves as a vital mean to enhance the implementation of existing legislations and to ensure proper coordination among relevant institutions playing a role in fighting corruption without confusion and overlapping responsibilities.
The ACA is a supreme control authority in Egypt that fights various forms of corruption among the state’s institutions and public servants through internal control elements.
It comprises of several units that are responsible for; studying the causes of negligence in work, following-up on regulations and systems, revealing the defects in the administrative, technical, and financial systems, preventing crimes on duties and tendencies to abuse authority, examining media coverage of issues revealing misconduct in public services, seizing public funds crimes committed by public employees, examining complaints received from citizens or concerned authorities, investigating illegal gain cases, conducting investigations on candidates for top management posts, providing reports to relevant authorities and conduct any required studies.
Egypt’s efforts to fight corruption
The Egyptian leadership realizes that corruption can cause deviation of authority, provide an opportunity for organized crimes to occur, and would lead to inequity among citizens and mistrust of government. Thus, the country is committed to take positive steps to promote transparency and to establish a sound anticorruption framework.
These positive steps include ratifying the U.N. convention against Corruption (UNDAC) in 2005 and the U.N. convention against Transitional Organized Crime (UNTOC). In addition, since 2014 Egypt became a state party in the Arab League pan-Arab anti-corruption instruments, the Arab Convention to Fight Corruption.
Egypt has also implemented institutional reforms and deepened its partnerships with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) on anti-corruption and anti-money laundering. Cooperation efforts with the EU and UN include providing technical and institutional support, training prosecutors to fight corruption, research, data analysis and enhancing global and regional cooperation in this area.
Overview of the anti-corruption legal framework in Egypt
Egypt has a strong legal framework to prevent and to fight corruption, this will is translated through:
In 2014, Egypt launched a national anti-corruption strategy. It was developed by the National Coordinating Committee for Combating Corruption while its implementation is coordinated by a technical committee headed by the Administrative Control Authority (ACA). The national strategy aims to fight corruption through setting specific objectives, policies, programs and mechanisms to control corruption and create a culture opposed to corruption. It adopts the objectives of raising the level of performance in the government, developing and updating the anti-corruption legislation, strengthening the judicial procedures to achieve prompt justice, strengthening civil society participation in combating corruption, raising living standards and achieving social justice and building trust between citizens and state institutions.
Furthermore, the Egyptian criminal code criminalizes active and passive abuse of power including facilitating payments and bribes. The law includes private employees and criminalizes private-to-private bribery.
The regulatory framework obligates public officials to declare their assets, upon taking their position and at the end of their term and every 2-5 years during their mandate. However, these declarations are not available for the public. All public officials, with the exception of judges, are required to declare loans, bank deposits, real estate assets and valuable movables.
In 2002, Egypt produced the Anti Money Laundering Law that prohibits laundering funds generated from crimes related to drugs, terrorism and exploitation.
Later in 2013, Egypt adopted a Conflict of Interest Law regulating what activities and assets senior public officials may and may not enjoy in line with the 2014 Code of Conduct of Public Employees which contains integrity provisions.
In Egypt, donations from corporate and foreign interests to political parties are forbidden. Financial transparency is a requirement to register political parties and all parties are required to disclose any donations they receive. Furthermore, the Central Audit Organization (CAO) monitors the activities of internal party auditors.
Overview of the anti-corruption institutional framework in Egypt
The Central Audit Organization (CAO) A legally, technically and physically independent entity that was established in 1964 and falls under the auspices of the president. It serves as an external auditor of national administration, local governments, public bodies, political parties, trade unions and federations.
The head of the CAO is nominated directly by presidential decree upon approval of the majority of the parliament. As required by the law, the organization has an independent budget. It issues nearly 30,000 reports each year for the president’s office, the prime minister office and the parliament.
The Supreme Election Committee (SEC) Composed of seven judges and assisted by a secretariat made up of representatives from the judicial power and various ministries. It serves as Egypt’s electoral management body and is responsible for the establishment of local election committees composed of five judges each.
The SEC has an independent budget and financial management. The board of the SEC is appointed by presidential decree, based on the position they hold in the judicial hierarchy. SEC board members cannot be removed from their positions. They are bound by the code of judicial conduct but are not accountable as members of the SEC.
The Ombudsman’s office The function of the ombudsman’s office is divided between the National Council for Women (NCW) and the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) that have an ombudsman’s office for citizens to file complaints in an easy process. Both councils are independent by law. Both councils present reports to the president’s and the prime minister’s offices, and publish their reports and information on their websites, even though they are not required to do so by law.
The National Coordinating Committee for Combating Corruption (NCCCC)An inter-ministerial entity established in 2010 to enforce the provision of conventions, and to fulfill the tasks of supervision and coordination of the 28 agencies that compose Egypt’s public sector monitoring framework. It does not have any investigation right.
The NCCCC is composed of representatives of various ministries and public bodies. It receives financial support from the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the U.S. Ford Foundation, in addition to the budget allocated by the Ministry of Justice.
In 2014, the NCCCC was suspended and replaced by the Supreme National Committee against Corruption.
The Administrative Control Authority (ACA) Established in 1964 as an independent entity under the auspices of the prime minister. ACA is responsible for the detecting and fighting corruption. The ACA also follows up on the implementation of related legislation, plays an advisory role for the prevention of corruption, and detects negligence and violations. The ACA has investigative powers, and it can hand over suspects to the Illicit Gains Authority. However, it requires permission from the president to arrest public officials suspected of corruption cases.
Administrative Prosecution Authority (APA) The APA was founded in 1958 as an agency to monitor and investigate civil servants in ministries and agencies at all levels. The APA is supported by professional staff to investigate administrative and financial corruption. It can hand over perpetrators to criminal courts.
Illicit Gains Authority (IGA) Established in 1975 under the Ministry of Justice, to investigate cases of suspected illegal revenue. The IGA collects the asset declarations that public officials are required to disclose upon joining the sector. It does not enjoy investigative power, but receives reports concerning corruption from private and public employees and passes the relevant cases on to investigate authorities.
Money Laundering Combating Unit (MLCU) An Egyptian financial intelligence unit established by the Anti-Money Laundering Law of 2002. The MLCU is an independent unit functioning within the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). It receives all reports concerning money laundering activities and offences.
The unit reports to the public prosecution body. It maintains a database gathering all received reports and information concerning money laundering and terrorism financing activities. The MLCU exchanges information related to its activities with other organizations, such as supervisory and competent authorities within the country but also abroad.
In addition to the formal legal and institutional frameworks in Egypt; media, civil society and private sector play an important role as a watchdog and an asset to fight corruption.