The establishment of the ARAI will conclude the process of forming a network of anti-corruption bodies in Madagascar, whose list is set out in Law of 22 August 2016 No. 2016-020 “On the Fight against Corruption” (Loi 2016-020 du 22 août 2016 sur la lutte contre la corruption) and includes:
- Committee on Safeguarding Integrity (Comité Pour la Sauvegarde de L’Intégrité – CSI);
- Independent Anti-Corruption Bureau (Bureau Indépendant Anti-Corruption – BIANCO);
- Financial Intelligence Service (Service de Renseignements Financiers – SAMIFIN);
- Anti-Corruption Courts (Pôles Anti-Corruption – PAC).
The key functions were delegated to the ARAI by Decree of 15 July 2019 No. 2019-015 “On the Return of Illicit Assets” (Ordonnance N°2019-015 Relative Au Recouvrement Des Avoirs Illicites); after its adoption, the Council of Ministers had postponed for two years the approval of the establishment of the relevant body*.
The Agency, in particular, is empowered to:
- enforce the decisions on freezing, seizure and confiscation of illicit assets;
- return proceeds of embezzlement of public resources and property;
- record assets in the Central Register for Freezing, Seizure and Confiscation (Registre Central de Saisie, de Gel et de Confiscation);
- ensure the integrity and management of confiscated assets and count their equivalent value.
All assets confiscated by the ARAI will be transferred to the account of the Agency in the General Treasury (Trésorerie Générale); after that, the Council of Ministers, based on an annual report that the ARAI must publish and submit to the attention of the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Economy and Finance, will take a decision on the distribution of relevant assets, including real estate property.
The Council of Ministers has also defined the procedure for appointing the head of the ARAI: the Agency will be chaired by a Director General selected by the President of the country of the three candidates identified by a dedicated recruitment commission that will comprise, among other members, CSI representatives. According to the communiqué of the Council of Ministers, the Director General of the ARAI can hold the post for a non-renewable term not exceeding five years.
It is also highlighted that the first Director of the ARAI will be appointed in late 2021 – early 2022.
*The approval of the establishment of the ARAI was unexpected news for the country, as the Council of Ministers had blocked or caused the postponement of the adoption of the relevant document for a long time, perhaps out of fear of consequences that could have backfired on the Council members.