The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has rejected claims that it does not have the power to investigate the Auditor General as being speculated.
EOCO started investigating the Audit service after it received a petition from a political pressure group, Alliance for Accountable Governance on allegations of procurement breaches.
However, the Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, wrote to EOCO, indicating that the investigative body has no legal mandate to probe him.
“In fact, I am advised that the relevant provision in Act 959 which amended Act 804 is section 80 and therein, your office's mandate to investigate corruption and corruption-related offices, which has been defined to include procurement breaches, has been taken away,” Mr. Domelevo said in the letter.
But EOCO in a statement signed by its Head of Public Affairs, Jacqueline Avotri, rejected the Auditor General’s assertions.
“Per section 3 of Act 804, the functions of the Office are to (a) investigate and on the authority of the Attorney-General prosecute serious offences…”
“It should be noted that Section 79 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, Act 959, is limited to corruption-related offences under the serious offences category of the EOCO Act. It does not oust the jurisdiction of EOCO from investigating other serious offences that are not necessarily of a corruption-related nature,” EOCO argued.
The office also stated that it is not targeting the removal of the Auditor General from office with its probe.
“The investigation by EOCO is not aimed at the removal of an Auditor General from office. EOCO is neither seized with the power to nor interested in removing an Auditor General from office. The investigations by the Office of the various individuals are in line with our legal mandate and purely borne out of the due process.”
“Any attempt to equate EOCO's investigation to constitutional processes for removal from office is additionally misplaced.” Stop attacking Auditor-General – Economic Fighter League to politicians
Pressure group, Economic Fighters League, has warned those who may be trying to discredit the Auditor General through attacks to desist from it.
The group commended the Auditor General and said, “We encourage the Auditor-General to stand firm and not be intimidated and to do his work without fear or favour.”
Government has no agenda against Auditor-General – Pius Hadzide
Deputy Minister of Information, Pius Hadzide, had earlier rejected claims that it has an agenda against the Auditor General.
“We cannot encourage this reckless commentary on an otherwise serious suggestion. If there is any evidence, action or inaction that somebody wants to point to even suggest that somebody's work is even undermined, that can be put forward, rather than just making an unsubstantiated, blanket and fundamental statement that there may be an agenda to remove somebody.”