Liberia: LACC Given Prosecutorial Power

The Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) has now been given prosecutorial power by the Legislature to prosecute criminal cases.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the law giving the LACC the ‘strong teeth’, meaning that the Commission has the power the prevention, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of corruption and corrupt practices in the public and private sectors of Liberia.

The House and the Senate repealed the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, which was said to have been considered to be one of the toughest anti-graft Acts in Africa.

The LACC was established by an Act of Legislature with the mandate to investigate and prosecute acts of corruption, as well as educate the public about the ills of corruption and the benefits of its eradication. But since its establishment, its function has been limited particularly as relates to exercising full complete authority in the prosecution of criminal cases. Corruption cases are usually being reported to the Ministry of Justice by the Commission for further judgment. 

The House of Representatives, on July 19, endorsed the report from the Conference Committee, composed of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, entitled “An Act to Amend and Restate An Act to Establish  the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and to Re-establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.”

The House and Senate reverted to a Conference Committee following passages of different versions. The report from the Conference Committee means both Houses are satisfied and have separately acted on the amendments, giving the LACC prosecutorial power.

The instrument, which was submitted by President George Weah, aims to strengthen the LACC in its prevention and combating corruption in Liberia and to give it powers to investigate acts of corruption both in the public and private sectors in Liberia and to prosecute those determined to be culpable for the practice of corruption.

If the new LACC is attested by the President and printed into the handbill, it will be considered independent of the investigation and prosecution of cases and the Commission will have powers to independently investigate and prosecute its cases without recourse to the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. 

The LACC will also have power of asset recovery in the punishment of offenders, in short, get the culprit and get the loot. 

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has also agreed with the Senate to pass three anti-graft laws, including, the Whistleblowers  Act of 2021, an Act to protect witnesses, called the Whistle Protection Act, and the Money Laundering, Terroristic Financing, Preventive  Measures and Procedures of Crimes Act of 2021.