ACC’s treatment of seized properties inconsistent

The Council discussed the need to streamline ACC’s treatment of movable and immovable properties

While the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has often received flak for improper management of seized properties, its treatment to seized movable and immovable properties are also inconsistent.

To minimise the risk of being criticized for unprofessional management of seized properties, the ACC report highlighted that a database system has been developed centralising all properties with evidences. A separate division is managing the database called the seized property information system.

However, the good governance committee of the National Council found that inconsistencies in the treatment of seized movable and immovable properties incur huge cost to the state and was unfair. This issue was discussed in brief on May 17.

The Anti-Corruption Act empowers the ACC to seize any movable and immovable property that has reasonable grounds to suspect to be the subject matter of an offence of evidence relating to corruption.

Deputy chairperson of the committee, Tharchen said seized land and building is allowed to operate as usual and the owners can collect rent as usual. But in case of immovable properties like vehicles, small and medium vehicles are parked at the ACC garage and heavy vehicles are left in open space.

He said ACC is answerable for the damage of seized and confiscated items. Should suspects come out clean and vehicles are damaged, he said ACC has to repair any damage caused while the property is under its custody. This, he said incurs huge cost to the state.

The Anti-Corruption Act also states that ACC is answerable for failure to protect anything obtained or frozen, seized or confiscated, while these properties are under the Commission’s custody.

The committee also found that movable properties are brought under the commission’s custody but incase of immovable properties, a notice of seizure is issued prohibiting all dealings of the particular property.

This clause, some members said, allows owners to exercise their rights such as collecting rent throughout the investigation period unlike the case of movable properties like vehicles. Most members suggested that seized properties, be it movable or immovable should be treated the same.

“Such inconsistencies not only seem unfair to the owner of the seized vehicle but it also has potential implication on the revenue generation for the government,” the committee’s report to the house stated.

Thimphu representative Nima Gyeltshen also suggested that when the property in question is land or building, a prohibition be imposed for both dealings and usage.

However, the Chukha representative, Pema Tenzin argued that the treatment should be different. He said movable properties depreciate in value while immovable properties appreciate.

While it was one of the recommendations of the Council to review and streamline the inconsistencies, the house directed the Committee to revisit the recommendations for the final adoption.

Tshering Dorji

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