Posts Tagged ‘bribery’

French bank SocGen agrees with US to pay $1 billion in penalties over bribery, manipulation

June 5, 2018

France’s second-biggest bank Societe Generale has agreed with the US to pay penalties exceeding $1 billion to settle allegations it bribed officials in Libya, and manipulated the Libor interest rate benchmark.

    
Headquarters of the Societe Generale bank near Paris, France

In a statement issued by the US Department of Justice on Monday, French bank Societe Generale (SocGen) and one of its subsidiaries agreed to pay the penalties to settle the cases. It is also to plead guilty in a New York court on Tuesday in connection with the resolution of the Libyan bribery case.

The bank reached a settlement with authorities in France relating to the Libya corruption scheme to pay a penalty otherwise payable to the US. It is the first coordinated resolution by US and French authorities in a foreign bribery case.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said on Monday: “For years, Societe Generale undermined the integrity of global markets and foreign institutions by issuing false financial data and by fraudulently securing contracts through bribery.”

US Attorney Richard Donoghue said the resolution “sends a powerful message to financial institutions that engage in corruption and manipulation in the financial markets that they will be held accountable.”

“This is the first coordinated resolution with French authorities in a foreign bribery case,” the Department said in its statement.

Read moreGoldman Sachs reaches $5.1 billion mortgage bond fraud settlement

The Libyan bribes

The bank is to pay $585 million (€500 million) in criminal penalties for bribing Gadhafi-era Libyan officials.

According to the Justice Department, between 2004 and 2009, the bank’s subsidiary SGA Societe Generale Acceptance paid a Libyan broker $90 million to funnel bribes to high-level officials to secure $3.7 billion in investments in the bank from Libyan state agencies, leading to some $523 million in profits.

In addition to pleading guilty to conspiracy and false reporting and paying the fines, SocGen also agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice’s investigation, and to “adopt and maintain enhanced compliance procedures.”

Read moreEU fines bank cartel for rigging Euribor rate

The Libor case

SocGen admitted it had falsely declared Libor submissions between May 2010 and October 2011 to make it look as though SocGen was able to borrow money at more favorable interest rates than it was actually able to do. This made out the bank was stronger and more creditworthy than it was.

The Libor rate is used to set lending rates for mortgages, bonds and consumer loans worth trillions of dollars around the globe.

In its statement, the Department said the manipulation scheme was ordered by senior executives at SocGen.

The penalties for the London Libor manipulation have been set at $275 million, plus $475 million in regulatory penalties and other payments to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Other charges were brought against the bank in relation to employees in London and Tokyo in 2006 working together to manipulate SocGen’s Japan Yen Libor submissions. Two former SocGen employees have been indicted for their roles in the scheme. Both of them are still at large.

In a statement on Monday, SocGen in Paris said it had taken “extensive steps in recent years to strengthen its overall compliance and control framework.”

The Financial Times reported on Sunday the possibility of a merger between SocGen and Italian Bank UniCredit. They are two of Europe’s largest financial institutions.

jm/rc (Reuters, AF)

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In a first, Hong Kong refused US extradition bid following Beijing request, State Department report says

May 30, 2018

Sign of slow but steady erosion of what was once considered “normal”

South China Morning Post
Wednesday, 30 May, 2018, 3:20pm

Hong Kong’s leader refused to hand over a fugitive to the US last year following a request by mainland Chinese authorities, in the first such case since the city’s handover from Britain to China, American officials have revealed.

The US Department of State stated in an annual report issued on Tuesday in Washington that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor turned down an extradition request “at the behest” of the central government in October.

The detainee was released into mainland Chinese custody on the basis that Beijing was “pursuing a separate criminal action”, the Hong Kong Policy Act Report read.

“This was the first such instance since 1997,” it said of the refusal. “The central government has provided no information as to the disposition of its own case against the individual.”

Former Hong Kong home affairs minister Patrick Ho was arrested in the US over a bribery investigation. Photo: Franke Tsang

The report was submitted to inform the US Congress on key issues and developments in Hong Kong from last September to April. It did not mention the particulars of the case or identify the fugitive.

But a broken extradition negotiation was mentioned in a high-profile New York bribery investigation of former Hong Kong home affairs minister, Patrick Ho Chi-ping, as prosecutors opposed his bail application, the Post has found.

In the cited case, a hacker named Iat Hong, 28, was arrested in Hong Kong on Christmas Day in 2016. Local law enforcement officials were given credit for “assistance in the arrest and apprehension”.

Hong was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for hacking into unnamed New York law firms and trading stocks based on information he obtained in 2014 and 2015, as part of a gang of three that made more than US$4 million.

To extradite Hong, a Macau resident, US prosecutors said they had to go through a “lengthy, cumbersome” process requiring first-hand statements “for all witnesses” including “document custodians”. However, the talks broke down in October last year.

The Hong Kong government handles the surrender of fugitive offenders in accordance with Hong Kong law
GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN

“After nearly 10 months of extradition proceedings in Hong Kong, the [US] government’s extradition application was denied,” the prosecutors said. “Hong thus has not been – and it appears never will be – extradited.”

Asked about the State Department report, a Hong Kong government spokesman declined to comment, saying: “The Hong Kong government handles the surrender of fugitive offenders in accordance with Hong Kong law.”

Authorities in the city have usually worked with law enforcement agencies in the US and generally accepted requests for extradition under a bilateral agreement that came into effect in 1997.

But US prosecutors in Ho’s case noted the deal contained “numerous exceptions that might be cited to deny an extradition request”.

One exception allows Hong Kong to refuse to surrender Chinese nationals when the request “relates to the defence, foreign affairs, or essential public interest or policy of [China]”.

The US and China do not have an extradition treaty.

Separately, the State Department criticised mainland Chinese authorities for diluting Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy” as enshrined in the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

It raised the example of Beijing officials repeatedly stressing the Basic Law is subordinate to the Chinese constitution and former Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei saying the central government “jointly” governs Hong Kong.

It also cited the approval by China’s top legislative body of a controversial joint checkpoint plan in Hong Kong that would make mainland laws applicable in West Kowloon station for a high-speed cross-border rail project.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-law-and-crime/article/2148434/first-hong-kong-refused-us-extradition-bid

Philippines: Crooked Cops, Payments to Cops, extortion and bribes still commonplace

March 27, 2018
EDITORIAL – Stopping ‘tokhang for ransom’
(The Philippine Star) – March 27, 2018 – 12:00am

In August last year, a couple filed a complaint against five policemen in Laguna for detaining them under the guise of a drug bust and then extorting P215,000 in exchange for their release. Last week the Philippine National Police dismissed the five for grave misconduct.

The five – Police Officers 3 Troyluss Ambrocius Yideso and Warren Ryan Carpena, PO2 John Alicbusan and Police Officers 1 Glecerio Cruzen and Clayson Benabese – are in the custody of the Laguna provincial police. The finding of administrative guilt should speed up the judicial resolution of the criminal charges they still face for robbery-extortion.

Adjudication of the criminal case must be speeded up so that there will be less temptation for other crooked cops to use the war on drugs for personal profit. The five cops’ modus operandi has been called tokhang for ransom. Other anti-narcotics cops have been accused of using the same MO even before Oplan Tokhang was launched. Drugs are planted as evidence on innocent victims, who are then asked to cough out money so they are spared from arrest and criminal indictment. Or else real drug dealers are apprehended, detained and then allowed to buy their way to freedom.

The good news is that the five cops, who were assigned in Sta. Rosa, Laguna before they detained Rommel dela Cruz and his wife Cristy on trumped-up drug charges, have been dismissed from the PNP and are facing trial for their crime. There are several other cases that must be resolved quickly, among them the kidnapping, robbery-extortion and brutal execution of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo by members of the main police anti-drug team outside the unit’s office right inside PNP headquarters at Camp Crame.

There are cops who believe they have been given blanket authority to do whatever they want in battling the illegal drug trade. The war cannot be won as long as this belief persists. Punishing extortionists and other abusive cops is the best way to dispel that belief.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/03/27/1800627/editorial-stopping-tokhang-ransom#MmkUC52cZi1dggWz.99

Nigeria’s Buhari meets with Dapchi girls — Boko Haram expected to strike Again — Terrorism and Corruption in Africa

March 23, 2018

AFP

© AFP / by Ola Awoniyi | A total of 113 children were seized from the school in Dapchi, in northeastern Nigeria on February 19, all but two of them girls

ABUJA (AFP) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari received the released Dapchi girls on Friday in a meeting clouded by the absence of a Christian student still held by Boko Haram for refusing to convert to Islam.”We entered into negotiation solely to make sure that no single girl was hurt. This strategy paid off as the girls are being released without any incident,” Buhari said to reporters at the presidential villa in Abuja.

The girls, dressed in brightly coloured hijabs, enthusiastically sang the national anthem before posing for photos with Buhari outside in a garden.

Describing the release of the 107 youngsters — 105 schoolgirls and two young boys — as a “cheery and hearty” development, Buhari pledged to recover “every abducted citizen in Nigeria.”

“While parents of the Dapchi girls rejoice because of the reunion with their children, I want to appeal to the Chibok community never to lose hope or despair. We are determined as never before to bring back our remaining Chibok daughters,” he said.

The latest mass kidnapping from the town of Dapchi was an embarrassment for Buhari whose government has repeatedly claimed that the Boko Haram Islamist group is close to defeat.

– Dialogue ongoing –

A total of 113 children were seized from the school in Dapchi, in the northeastern state of Yobe, on February 19, all but two of them girls.

On Wednesday morning, 105 of the girls were brought back by the jihadists, who drove freely into the town in a convoy of vehicles waving the black Boko Haram flag and met by cheering residents.

“The insurgents’ only condition was their demands for a cessation of hostilities and a temporary ceasefire to enable them to return the girls (to) the point they picked them (up),” security director Lawal Daura said.

“The remaining six Dapchi girls are yet to be accounted for and dialogue on these students is still on-going,” he said.

Five girls are said to have died in the initial stages of the kidnapping, while one girl — the only Christian — is still being held, with Buhari on Friday promising to free her.

– ‘Praying for her return’ –

Leah Sharibu is still with her captors, apparently because she refused to convert to Islam.

“It is disheartening that one of the girls, Leah Sharibu, remains in captivity,” said Buhari on his official Twitter account.

“We will do everything in our power to bring Leah back safely,” he said.

“There is no news that they have seen my daughter,” Leah’s father Nata Sharibu told AFP over the phone.

“People pray that my daughter will come.”

The Dapchi kidnapping revived painful memories in Nigeria of the April 2014 abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, a town also in the northeast, which caused global outrage.

While some of the Chibok girls have been freed in exchange for ransom and the release of top Boko Haram commanders, a total of 112 remain in captivity.

Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted schools giving a so-called Western education in the mainly-Muslim region as part of an insurgency that has killed at least 20,000 people since 2009.

According to the UN children’s agency UNICEF, more than 2,296 teachers have been killed and some 1,400 schools destroyed in the wider northeast.

On Wednesday, the Borno state government announced that all boarding secondary schools outside Maiduguri and the town of Biu would be closed indefinitely with immediate effect.

Boko Haram has increasingly turned to kidnapping for ransom to raise funds for their operations in the Lake Chad region.

While a 2015 offensive launched by Buhari successfully reclaimed swathes of territory back from the jihadists in Nigeria, the group still stages deadly attacks on both military targets and civilians.

by Ola Awoniyi
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Nigeria: Security forces failed to act on warnings about Boko Haram attack hours before abduction of schoolgirls — Government corruption?

March 23, 2018

Amnesty International

Leah Sharibu, only Dapchi schoolgirl in Boko Haram captivity.

Nigerian security forces failed to act on advance warnings that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters was heading towards a town where they abducted 110 schoolgirls last month, an investigation by Amnesty International has revealed.

The military failed to respond while Boko Haram conducted an armed raid on the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state, on 19 February in an assault with chilling echoes of the infamous Chibok girls’ abduction of 2014.

“The Nigerian authorities must investigate the inexcusable security lapses that allowed this abduction to take place without any tangible attempt to prevent it,” said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director.

“As an even greater priority, the government must use all lawful means at its disposal to ensure that these girls are rescued.

“The authorities appear to have learned nothing from the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state in 2014 and failed to ensure protection for civilians in northeast Nigeria, specifically girls’ schools.”

In response to the Chibok abduction, the Safe Schools Initiative – which is currently coordinated by the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative – was launched to improve security around schools. However, no framework seems to be in place to prevent further abductions and it appears that the Nigerian military is unable to protect schools from attack.

“Evidence available to Amnesty International suggests that there are insufficient troops deployed in the area, and that an absence of patrols and the failure to respond to warnings and engage with Boko Haram contributed to this tragedy,” said Osai Ojigho.

“The Nigerian authorities have failed in their duty to protect civilians, just as they did in Chibok four years ago. Despite being repeatedly told that Boko Haram fighters were heading to Dapchi, it appears that the police and military did nothing to avert the abduction.”

The Nigerian authorities have failed in their duty to protect civilians, just as they did in Chibok four years ago. Despite being repeatedly told that Boko Haram fighters were heading to Dapchi, it appears that the police and military did nothing to avert the abduction.
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director

Amnesty International gathered testimonies from multiple credible sources showing that the Nigerian army and police received multiple calls up to four hours before the raid on Dapchi, but did not take effective measures to stop the abduction or rescue the girls after they were taken by Boko Haram fighters.

The military withdrew troops from the area in January, meaning the closest personnel were based one hour’s drive from Dapchi.

Between 2pm and 6.30pm on 19 February, security forces received at least five calls warning them that the armed group was on the way to Dapchi.

The first call was made to the army command in Geidam, 54km from Dapchi, informing them that Boko Haram fighters had been seen at Futchimiram heading to Gumsa, a village about 30km from Dapchi. However, the evidence documented by Amnesty International shows that the military did nothing to engage with Boko Haram and ensure the protection of civilians.

Commander ‘aware of Boko Haram movement’ four hours before abduction

The sighting of an armed convoy at Futchimiram immediately sparked several phone calls to alert authorities. Sources who informed the military commander in Geidam at 2pm report that he responded to them by saying he was aware of the situation and was monitoring it.

At around 3pm, the convoy arrived in Gumsa, where they remained till 5pm. People in Gumsa called Dapchi villagers to warn them that Boko Haram fighters were on their way. One villager who received such a call said he informed a police sergeant who promised to notify the Dapchi Division Police Officer (DPO).

At around 6:30pm, when residents were heading to the mosque for evening prayers, Boko Haram members entered Dapchi. Witnesses said Boko Haram fighters asked for directions to the military post, the local government office and the girls’ school.

A police source in Dapchi told Amnesty International that officers fled because they feared the Boko Haram fighters would overpower them.

Government must investigate root causes of failure to respond

A source based in northeast Nigeria told Amnesty International: “All the military needed to do was send troops towards Gumsa from Geidam or Babban Gida, while telling its troops in Damasak, Kareto, Gubio and Magumeri to be on the lookout or be on patrol.”

A review of the Nigerian army’s actions by Amnesty International’s crisis advisor for military operations also concluded that the military’s response was woefully inadequate. The review took into consideration the locations of the soldiers and the time it would take to get to Dapchi, as well as the route taken by Boko Haram.

According to victims and eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty International, Boko Haram left Gumsa for Dapchi at around 5:00pm, arriving at around 6:30pm. They left Dapchi at around 7:30pm in the direction of Gumsa, where villagers say they arrived at around 9:00pm.

During the attack, army officials both in Geidam and Damaturu were again alerted. The military only arrived in Dapchi shortly after Boko Haram left.

Villagers in Dapchi and Gumsa said a military jet arrived about one hour after Boko Haram left Dapchi.

Six days after the abduction, on 25 February, a security meeting was held at the governor’s office in the state capital Damaturu attended by state and federal government officials, security chiefs, the military officials operating in the area and representatives from the school and parents. The authorities were aware that the military was notified at least four hours before the attack that suspected Boko Haram fighters were heading to Gumsa. No one appears to have asked why the military did not respond adequately or why there were not enough troops.

President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently ordered an investigation into the response to the abduction.

“The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public – and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes,” said Osai Ojigho.

The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public – and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes.
Osai Ojigho

“Why were insufficient troops available? Why was it decided to withdraw troops? What measures has the government taken to protect schools in northeast Nigeria? And what procedures are supposed to be followed in response to an attempted abduction?”

Families of abducted girls left without any information

The abduction was followed by confusion. Initially, the authorities denied any girls were abducted, then the Yobe state authorities stated that the military had rescued the girls. But the girls did not return home, and on 22 February the state government confirmed the abductions.

One parent told Amnesty International: “That night we heard their voices when they were being taken, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone was scared. Boko Haram did not stay in the town for more than one hour.”

That night we heard their voices when they were being taken, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone was scared. Boko Haram did not stay in the town for more than one hour.
Parent

Another parent described how the girls’ relatives were not given any information until the following day, and had to wait outside the school to find out if their loved ones were safe.

“Many parents were hopeful that their daughters were inside. We stood there from morning till around 5pm in the evening, when they let the students out. It was at that point it dawned on me that my daughter was among those abducted,” he said.

Another parent whose daughter returned said: “Nobody told parents officially that their daughters were taken. While I was glad seeing my daughters, I felt bad for other parents whose daughters could not be found.”

No lessons learned from 2014 Chibok abduction

The response to this abduction has chilling similarities to the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state in April 2014.

On that occasion, the military also had four hours’ advance warning but failed to take the immediate action needed to stop it, with most military personnel withdrawn shortly before the abduction.

Similarly, the abduction was followed by a climate of confusion and suspicion, which appeared to slow down the Nigerian authorities’ efforts to locate and free the abducted girls.

After the Chibok abduction, the military initially said that almost all the abducted girls had been rescued, but later had to retract that statement.

The authorities under President Goodluck Jonathan originally investigated Boko Haram’s responsibility for the Chibok abductions but never made the report public. In January 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered another investigation into the government’s response to the Chibok abduction. This report was also never made public.

“Regrettably, no lessons appear to have been learned from the terrible events at Chibok four years ago. What happened in Dapchi is almost a carbon copy of what happened in Chibok, with the security forces failing to respond to warnings – and the same result for another hundred girls and their families,” said Osai Ojigho.

“All authorities must now work together to ensure the girls are brought home safely and this never happens again. This abduction is a war crime and those responsible must be brought to justice. As a first step, the two reports into the Chibok abductions should be made public.”

Amnesty International is calling on Boko Haram to immediately release the girls and all others in its captivity.

Background

A team of Amnesty International researchers visited Dapchi and interviewed 23 people, including girls who escaped, parents of the abducted girls, local officials and eyewitnesses, to document this abduction. They also interviewed three security officials.

The sources independently verified a list of Nigerian security officials who were alerted on 19 February, before and during the raid on the Government Girls Science and Technical College. They have been kept anonymous for their safety.

The sources and eyewitnesses in Dapchi confirmed that approximately 50 Boko Haram fighters arrived in Dapchi in a convoy of nine vehicles with Arabic inscriptions on them, seven Landcruiser trucks, one Hilux and a Canter truck.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/nigeria-abduction-of-schoolgirls-security-forces-failed-to-act-boko-haram/

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Kidnapped schoolgirls freed in Nigeria — “You can expect more kidnappings and extortion from Boko Haram.”

March 21, 2018

BBC News

A man wipes away a tear after the girls were released in Dapchi
A relieved man wipes away a tear after the girls, who went missing on 19 February, arrived back in Dapchi. Credit ISAAC LINUS ABRAK

The majority of the 110 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by militants in the town of Dapchi last month have been returned, the government says.

A presidential aide said 101 schoolgirls were dropped back in the town in the early hours of Wednesday.

The government said the army allowed the militants through, so “lives were not lost”, but denied paying a ransom.

However, reports suggest at least five girls died during their kidnapping, and that a Christian girl remains captive.

One of the freed girls, in a phone conversation with a relative, said the five had been crushed to death as they were herded into vehicles and driven away.

The girl said they were taken into the bush, to an “enclosed place”. When asked whether they were well fed, she said they had to cook their own food.

The government did not make any mention of deaths.

‘No ransom paid’

The father of one girl said she was being kept by the militants – thought to be from the Boko Haram group – because she refused to convert from Christianity to Islam. In a radio interview he said he was happy that she had not renounced her faith.

The BBC’s Tomi Oladipo says the government is likely to have given something in return for the girls’ release.

But Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told Reuters that “no ransom was paid”.

People waving their arms in joy in DapchiImage copyrightISAAC LINUS ABRAK
Image captionThe girls arrived in the town in the early hours of this morning

In Dapchi there was jubilation and shock at the unexpected arrival of the girls.

One of the girls’ parents, Kundili Bukar, told the BBC the militants drove into the town in a motorcade in the early hours of Wednesday morning and surrendered the girls to the community.

The militants are said to have left immediately. However, another parent told the BBC the extremists left them with a warning not to send their daughters back to school, threatening to return and kidnap them once more – only this time, there would be no chance of release.

The girls, who are described as being hungry and looking tired by parents, have been taken to hospital.


Analysis: This changes nothing

Tomi Oladipo, the BBC’s Africa security correspondent, explains why an IS-backed faction of Boko Haram, suspected to be behind the Dapchi girls abduction, is using a different playbook.

The return of more than 70 Dapchi schoolgirls indicates that a Boko Haram faction, led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, is taking a different approach to kidnappings.

Negotiations for the Chibok girls’ release proved difficult under Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau. More than 100 of them still remain in captivity.

map

But despite reports, Wednesday’s release did not come free. Boko Haram definitely got something in return for waltzing back into Dapchi and dropping off the girls.

The problem going forward is that this will encourage the IS-linked militants to hit jackpot once again by raiding another community and abducting another set of people.

The Nigerian government might feel like it has averted the kind of global disrepute that plagued the administration of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, following its poor response to the kidnapping of the Chibok girls.

But this is only a minor PR victory for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Boko Haram and its various factions suffered no losses on Wednesday and they will remain a scourge in Nigeria.


The girls were taken from their school on the evening of Monday, 19 February, by a group of militants who had attacked the town of Dapchi.

Originally, it was claimed many of the girls had escaped and no-one had been kidnapped. But a week later, authorities admitted they were taken by the Islamist militants.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari came under increasing pressure to secure the girls’ release, especially as the kidnapping raised uncomfortable parallels with the abduction of the Chibok girls, who were taken from their school in neighbouring Borno state in April 2014.

More than 100 of the 276 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls remain in captivity.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43484146

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Cambridge Analytica: Warrant sought to inspect company

March 20, 2018

BBC News

Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica was filmed by undercover reporters for Channel 4 News

The UK’s Information Commissioner says she will seek a warrant to look at the databases and servers used by British firm Cambridge Analytica.

The London-based company is accused of using the personal data of 50 million Facebook members to influence the US presidential election in 2016.

Its executives have also been filmed by Channel 4 News suggesting it could use honey traps and potentially bribery to discredit politicians.

The company denies any wrongdoing.

Fresh allegations

On Monday, Channel 4 News broadcast hidden camera footage in which Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix appears to suggest tactics his company could use to discredit politicians online.

In the footage, asked what “deep digging” could be done, Mr Nix told an undercover reporter: “Oh, we do a lot more than that.”

He suggested one way to target an individual was to “offer them a deal that’s too good to be true and make sure that’s video recorded”.

He also said he could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house…” adding that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well”.

Mr Nix continued: “I’m just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done.”

Channel 4 News said its reporter had posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get a political candidate elected in Sri Lanka.

However, Cambridge Analytica said the report had “grossly misrepresented” the conversations caught on camera.

“In playing along with this line of conversation, and partly to spare our ‘client’ from embarrassment, we entertained a series of ludicrous hypothetical scenarios,” the company said in a statement.

“Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called ‘honeytraps’,” it said.

Mr Nix spoke to BBC Newsnight before the Channel 4 report was aired on Monday night. He declined to be interviewed after the undercover footage was broadcast

Mr Nix told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that he regarded the report as a “misrepresentation of the facts” and said he felt the firm had been “deliberately entrapped”.

UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is investigating Cambridge Analytica over claims it used personal data to influence the US presidential election.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with the company, claimed it amassed the data of millions of people through a personality quiz on Facebook that was created by an academic.

Investigation

Ms Denham demanded access to the firm’s databases and servers after it missed her Monday deadline.

“I’m not accepting their response so therefore I’ll be applying to the court for a warrant,” she told Channel 4.

She said she wanted to understand how data was “processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica”.

But Labour’s shadow digital economy minister Liam Byrne said he feared the Information Commissioner lacked the legal power to apply for a digital search warrant “quickly and quietly”.

Instead, she has “told the world she’s going to court”, giving Cambridge Analytica and others a headstart in hiding or disguising data and records that might be needed for the investigation, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘Violation’

Cambridge Analytica insists it followed the correct procedures in obtaining and using data, but it was suspended from Facebook last week.

Facebook, meanwhile, will hold an open meeting with its employees later to discuss the matter, tech news website The Verge is reporting.

Facebook said it has hired its own digital forensic team to audit Cambridge Analytica.

“This is part of a comprehensive internal and external review that we are conducting to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists,” the firm said.

“If this data still exists, it would be a grave violation of Facebook’s policies and an unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments these groups made.”

Facebook said Aleksandr Kogan, the creator of the personality app from which the data had been harvested, had agreed to be audited, but Mr Wylie – who made the claims about the way the data was gathered and used – had declined.


How to protect your data on Facebook

There are a few things to be aware of if you want to restrict who has access to your data.

  • Keep an eye on apps, especially those which require you to log in using your Facebook account – they often have a very wide range of permissions and many are specifically designed to pick up your data
  • Use an ad blocker to limit advertising
  • Look at your Facebook security settings and make sure you are aware of what is enabled. Check the individual app settings to see whether you have given them permission to view your friends as well as yourself.
  • You can download a copy of the data Facebook holds on you, although it is not comprehensive. There is a download button at the bottom of the General Account Settings tab. However bear in mind that your data may be less secure sitting on your laptop than it is on Facebook’s servers, if your device is hacked.

You can of course, simply leave Facebook, but the campaign group Privacy International warns that privacy concerns extend beyond the social network.

“The current focus is on protecting your data being exploited by third parties, but your data is being exploited all the time,” said a spokeswoman.

“Many apps on your phone will have permission to access location data, your entire phone book and so on. It is just the tip of the iceberg.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43465700

Israel: Could Netanyahu Survive Corruption Scandal? — “Dead man walking” — Three possible outcomes….

February 22, 2018

Haaretz

Despite the media describing him as a lame duck, the Israeli PM still has several options as he deals with the avalanche of corruption allegations against him

.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of an ER in Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of an ER in Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon.\ Ilan Assayag

At first, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked as if he might ride out the corruption storm raging around him (at least temporarily). After the police recommendations last Tuesday that he be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two of the corruption cases involving him, he initially stood strong, issuing a defiant statement.

Politically, he maintained strong support within his Likud party, with no one daring to even speculate on who might take over in a post-Netanyahu world. Similarly, his key governing coalition partners said they would adopt a wait-and-see approach, committing to stand by him at least until the attorney general made his final decision on whether the prime minister would face criminal charges.

But the cards were reshuffled Tuesday with two bombshells: the first, that a confidant (aka henchman) of Netanyahu’s was suspected of offering the job of attorney general to a former judge, in exchange for her killing a case against the premier’s wife, Sara Netanyahu.

But potentially more significant was the news that Shlomo Filber, the former director general of the Communications Ministry, had turned state’s evidence and would share what is presumed to be highly damaging testimony regarding Netanyahu’s role in what is known as Case 4000. This case involves the Israeli telecom giant Bezeq, whose controlling shareholder is Netanyahu’s friend Shaul Elovitch.

If Filber testifies that Netanyahu directed him to make decisions benefiting Bezeq, and acknowledges that the positive news coverage of the Netanyahu family on a Bezeq-owned news site was a quid pro quo – many pundits are saying the bribery case against Netanyahu appears to be open-and-shut.

What happens to Netanyahu now? 3 possible scenarios
Ofer Vaknin
Netanyahu has been declared, depending on the preferred metaphor of any given TV talking head, a “dead man walking” or a “lame duck” – officially running the country, but drained of any real authority.

The atmosphere is reminiscent of the United States during the Watergate era (1973-74), with every day bringing new revelations. So what are the possibilities facing the prime minister moving forward?

Netanyahu government falls: New elections are held

The most dramatic scenario would occur if one or more of Netanyahu’s coalition partners – possibly one of the parties headed by a leader who aspires to replace him in the Prime Minister’s Office – decides to quit the government.

If none of the parties currently in the opposition steps up to replace them and save the coalition – and that seems highly unlikely given the current circumstances – the government would officially dissolve. New elections would be called as soon as possible, presumably in the spring or early summer.

Several political parties are already scrambling in preparation for this eventuality. Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay – whose party is currently the second largest in the Knesset – sent a letter to party members on Tuesday, declaring that “the Netanyahu era is over. We must prepare for an election soon.”

Netanyahu steps down but Likud-led government remains

If Netanyahu’s grip on Likud slips far enough, and coalition parties are sufficiently reluctant to give up their positions of power, a deal could be struck between these parties and Likud – with or without Netanyahu’s participation. In such a scenario, Netanyahu would step down from the Likud leadership but the Likud-led coalition would remain in place, with the same parties heading the same ministries and a new prime minister chosen from within Likud.

The move could be framed as either permanent or temporary – an idea to which Netanyahu might be more amenable. Interestingly, while this solution has not been publicly discussed by any members of the coalition, it has been floated by prominent opposition leaders. Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid (who provided key testimony in one of the cases against Netanyahu) has proposed that Netanyahu take a “leave of absence” and “step aside” until the situation is resolved, even if there are no plans for new elections.

Netanyahu hangs on

Some of the party leaders in Netanyahu’s coalition have ridden out their own corruption scandals – ministers like Avigdor Lieberman and Arye Dery. This could make them sympathetic enough to maintain a “wait and see” approach, even in the face of the ever-widening and worsening list of suspicions and accusations against Netanyahu.

They are also very comfortable with their jobs heading powerful ministries, and it’s far from certain whether a new Knesset election would grant them the level of support needed to keep them there. For example, in the most recent poll about how the public would vote if an election were held tomorrow, Dery’s Shas party would not even garner enough votes to gain Knesset representation.

Another volatile factor that might keep the current government in place is the fragile security situation.

Any major military conflict – on the northern front with Lebanon and Syria, or in the Gaza Strip with Hamas – could push elected officials and the general public to “circle the national wagons,” and put political divisions aside in order to project a stronger and more stable image to Israel’s enemies.

Within Likud itself, Netanyahu has worked hard for years to make sure he has no natural successor. There is no figure within the party perceived as being able to fill his shoes.

More importantly, he has a powerful base of party loyalists who believe he is such a strong and effective figure that they are prepared to overlook any alleged personal foibles – be they cigars and champagne, or favors to wealthy media barons in exchange for positive coverage for his family.

Much like the acquiescence of the Republican Party to Donald Trump, potential aspirants to the Likud leadership are afraid that a direct attack on Netanyahu will alienate that loyal base and harm their own political futures. For that reason, they would prefer to see prosecutors and judges bring Netanyahu down than do it themselves.

As long as that fear persists, Netanyahu has a chance of holding onto power by his fingernails – as the nation watches and waits for his fate to be decided by the judiciary.

Netanyahu says government ‘stable’ after police recommend his indictment

February 14, 2018

AFP

© AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government remains “stable”, on February 14, 2018. a day after police recommended his indictment for corruption, prompting calls for him to resign
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday his government was “stable” and criticised the police investigation against him after detectives recommended his indictment for corruption, prompting calls for him to resign.”I can reassure you that the coalition is stable,” Netanyahu said at an event in Tel Aviv, again making clear he had no intention of resigning.

“Neither me nor anyone else has plans for elections. We’re going to continue to work together for the good of Israeli citizens until the end of the term.”

Netanyahu, prime minister for a total of nearly 12 years, denounced the police recommendations against him as “full of holes, like Swiss cheese.”

He said the police report “misleads” and is “contrary to the truth and logic.”

Netanyahu is facing the biggest challenge to his long tenure in office after police recommended on Tuesday that he be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

The attorney general must now decide how to move forward with the case, a process that could take months.

A prime minister facing such police recommendations or who has been formally charged is not obliged to resign.

Police recommend Israel PM Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, breach of trust

February 13, 2018

Following year-long corruption probes, investigators believe they have collected enough evidence to take PM to trial on a series of serious corruption charges

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on February 11, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on February 11, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)

Police officials informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening they are recommending he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in both of the corruption investigations against him.

The prime minister’s lawyers were informed of the impending police announcement to this effect.

Police are set to formally announce the recommendations at 8.45 p.m.

Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing, has informed news stations that he will give a live, 10-minute-long statement to press at 8.47 p.m.

In the so-called Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, reportedly including hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Arnon Milchan (center) with Shimon Peres (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu, March 28, 2005. (Flash90/File)

Police have also recommended Milchan and Moses stand trial for bribery, according to Hebrew media reports.

The recommendations were presented to the State Prosecution earlier Monday for consideration by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who alone has the power to bring charges against a sitting prime minister.

Minutes before the police announcement, the force released a statement saying that there was “no truth” to reports that Mandelblit tried to prevent them from publishing recommendations.

“There is close cooperation between the police commissioner, the head of the investigations unit, the State Prosecution and the attorney general, as always,” a police spokesperson said.

The statement from the police is expected to be followed in the next few days by a more detailed explanation from the State Prosecution, which will lay out each proposed charge against the prime minister.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks during a farewell ceremony for outgoing Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor in Jerusalem on November 6, 2017. (Flash90)

The recommendations conclude two year-long investigations into alleged corruption by Netanyahu that have seen numerous leaks to media outlets. Netanyahu has been questioned in the cases seven times.

The core of the Case 1000 has focused on whether Milchan’s gifts were given merely out of generosity and friendship, as the Netanyahus have claimed, or whether prime minister used his position to provide reciprocal favors to the Hollywood mogul.

Leaked reports of the investigation indicated that Milchan spent some NIS 400,000-600,000 ($100,000-150,000) on champagne and cigars for the Netanyahus over the better part of a decade.

Milchan reportedly told Israeli police under questioning that the Netanyahus demanded the champagne and cigars that he has allegedly been supplying them.

The Netanyahus reportedly used the code words “pinks” and “leaves” to demand more champagne and cigars, and these items were then purchased through people working for Milchan and delivered to the prime minister and his wife by Milchan’s chauffeurs.

Sara Netanyahu also reportedly had Milchan buy her expensive jewelry and then complained when she did not receive the full set that she had requested.

Netanyahu is said to have told police that gifts from the Milchans were presents from their “best friends.” The families meet up “all the time,” he reportedly claimed, even providing photos of their year-long relationship to prove it.

One of the possible instances of a quid pro quo favor given to Milchan in return for the gifts is Netanyahu’s help in securing the Hollywood producer with a US visa. Netanyahu has admitted to asking US Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene to restore of a 10-year US visa for Milchan but has claimed it had nothing to do with the gifts and that he has made similar gestures for others.

Australian billionaire James Packer, chairman of Crown Limited, one of Australia’s largest entertainment and integrated resort groups, has also been a central figure in the case and is also believed to have sent lavish gifts of his own to the Netanyahus over the years.

Milchan reportedly told police he had asked Packer, who is a mutual friend of his and of the Netanyahus, to help shoulder the cost of the gifts and that Packer paid a quarter of the value.

Packer is also said to have lavished Netanyahu’s college-aged son, Yair, with gifts that included extended stays at luxury hotels in Tel Aviv, New York, and Aspen, Colorado, the use of his private jet and dozens of tickets for concerts by Packer’s former fiancée, Mariah Carey.

Similar to the allegations surrounding Milchan, police reportedly investigated whether Netanyahu tried to help Packer gain residency in Israel. Packer bought a home next to Netanyahu in the upscale coastal city of Caesarea and reportedly sought residency status for tax purposes.

Several other billionaires and multimillionaires have been linked to the case, and some interviewed by police, including British-Israeli businessman Chaim “Poju” Zabludowicz, US businessman Spencer Partrige, British-American Leonard Blavatnik, Canadian-Israeli Nathan Jacobson, and head of Indian mega-conglomerate Ratan Tata.

In Case 2000, under the alleged agreement between Mozes and Netanyahu — which was not implemented — the prime minister said he would advance legislation to curb the circulation of Israel Hayom if Mozes instructed his reporters and op-ed writers to change their often negative stance towards him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes (composite image: Flash90)

Yedioth, once the country’s largest tabloid, is often seen as critical of Netanyahu.

In August, Israeli police explicitly said for the first time that a number of corruption investigations involving Netanyahu deal with “bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”

Day’s later, Ari Harow, a former chief of staff and aide to Netanyahu, signed a deal to turn state’s witness in the investigations.

Harow has been under investigation since mid-2015 on suspicion of using his ties to Netanyahu to advance his private business interests. Police have recommended he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in the case, but the attorney general has yet to file formal charges.

It was the investigations into Harow that sparked Case 2000, after investigators uncovered recordings on Harow’s computer of meetings between Netanyahu and Mozes in late 2014 and early 2015.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/tv-police-tell-pm-they-recommend-he-be-indicted-for-bribery-breach-of-trust/

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