What you should do about it?

If you think you have seen or heard about corruption, report it to the LACC.

Reasonable Belief is Enough: You do not need to have overwhelming evidence of the corruption. The Commission will gather the evidence. On the other hand, you have to be sure enough about it that it is worthwhile notifying the Commission. Please do not waste the Commission’s time with frivolous or vexatious or malicious complaints. In fact, you may be committing a criminal offence if you report a malicious complaint. That means a complaint where there really was no reason to suspect that a person committed a corrupt act and the complaint was motivated by malice or an intention to damage the person or waste the Commission’s time. It would be a waste of time in any case: if it is a frivolous or malicious complaint, the most that can happen is that the Commission will decide eventually that there was nothing in the complaint and, if Commission’s officers think that the complaint was motivated by malice either towards the Commission or the public official, then the person who made the malicious complaint might have to explain themselves to the police.

The Commission is only interested in hearing serious complaints by serious people. The courts might insist on high levels of proof but the Commission does not. If the Commission begins an investigation, it will find the proof. The term “reasonable suspicion” or “reasonable belief is useful here. If you have a reasonable suspicion or belief of corruption, report it to the Commission. It is more than a guess or hunch. It means that there are at least some facts which anyone looking at them would think there might be corruption was going on.

Anonymous complaints: Sometimes people are aware of corruption and would like to do something about it but are worried about reprisals. Soon, Liberia will have whistle-blower and witness protection laws but even without them, anyone who threatens you because you are doing your duty to report corruption is likely to be committing some kind of criminal offence.In fact, the fact that they even make a threat like that is very good evidence that they have actually committed a corruption offence.

It is possible for you to make an anonymous complaint. The Commission has acted on anonymous complaints in the past in some very major cases. Generally, anonymous complaints are less likely to be acted on by the Commission than complaints which are signed off by someone. That is because it is simply easier for the Commission’s investigators to begin an investigation if the person who made the complaint can be contacted and interviewed about if necessary, especially if your complaint is that you actually saw the corrupt act. If you want to keep your name out of the investigation for as long as possible, the Commission investigators will do what they can. At the end of the day, it is up to the prosecution whether or not they will use you as a witness in a trial later on.

Other Remedies: While the Commission is always willing to receive complaints, please bear in mind whether or not you have other ways to deal with the problem before you complain to the Commission. Does the act really amount to corruption as we have defined it? Have you thought about notifying the public official’s superiors? Are there in-house departmental investigators that should be notified first? Many times, the Commission will receive a complaint and notify departmental investigators rather than continue an investigation itself because the departmental investigators are usually much better qualified and knowledgeable about the department and its procedures.

What happens to the complaint? The complaint is received by Commission investigators who will decide whether or not to begin an investigation. If they decide to open an investigation, you may be notified. Please bear in mind that the Commission does not have unlimited resources and staff so it cannot investigate everything. Reasons for not investigating include:

– the complaint is not actually corruption,
– it is too trivial,
– there are better qualified agencies to conduct the initial investigation,
– after there is a preliminary investigation, there is no way of proving that the corrupt activity happened or that the public official caused it.
Basically, the Commission takes into account three factors when considering whether or not to begin an investigation:
– the public interest: it is serious enough?
– resources: does the Commission have enough staff and resources to justify an investigation?
– evidence: is there going to be enough evidence to prove that the corruption happened?

Triviality: All acts of corruption are serious. However, the Commission simply does not have the resources to investigate every complaint. Frequently but not always, the amount of money involved can be a factor. But not always. Other things that are taken into account include the importance of the public function, the seniority of the official, whether or not it was a one-off or a regular occurrence, how much damage was caused to the government or the people of Liberia. If a Police Commissioner takes a small bribe hide evidence in a serious case, that is serious even if the bribe was small; if a junior clerical officer steals a department car, then even though the car is worth a lot of money, it might be better for the police to investigate as a routine criminal act of theft; if a teacher takes a small bribe to pass a student, it might be better to notify the principal or the school district unless a lot of teachers in the same school are doing this in which case this is what is known as systemic corruption and so very serious. Basically, if you see an act of corruption and you think it is serious enough to notify the Commission, the Commission wants to hear about it. The Commission will have to decide whether or not to investigate it.

How to notify the Commission: The big red Report Now button on this page is one way. Complete the form and send it along. It will go to a secure dedicated email address and only the relevant officer in the Investigations Division of the Commission will see it. The more detail you provide, the easier it is for the Commission to understand your complaint and decide what to do about it. If the Commission proceeds with a full investigation, you will be notified about it.

Other ways of making a complaint are by letter and telephone and even a text. Again, the more information you provide the easier it is for the Commission to decide what to do.

You can also make your complaint in person, especially if it is very serious or sensitive and you want the Commission’s investigators to consider documents or other evidence. If you plan to come in person, please call ahead and ask to speak to an Investigator to arrange a time. If you need special assistance or want to make some kind of arrangements to protect your confidentiality, let the investigator know about it.