Posts Tagged ‘bribes’

France says acquisition of Brazilian football player Neymar is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports — Qatar must still answer on terrorism

August 6, 2017

Move by PSG to recruit Brazilian football player Neymar is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports, says France

Image Credit: AFP
A protester holds a placard which translates “Qatar buys everything, some players and some terrorism”, as a vehicle transporting Neymar arrives at a hotel in Paris, on Friday.

Published: 22:57 August 4, 2017Gulf News

Gulf News

Neymar’s record transfer to soccer team Paris Saint-Germain doesn’t mean Qatar, which owns the club, is off the hook from shedding light on possible terrorism financing, France’s government spokesman said.



The move by PSG to recruit Brazilian football player Neymar Da Silva Santos Jr is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports, French government spokesman Christophe Castaner said in an LCI television interview after the soccer team’s announcement. Qatar must still answer on terrorism and any role it may or may not play in financing it, he said.

“It’s essential that Qatar sheds full transparency on subjects like the financing of terrorism,”  Castaner said. “We are allowed to ask questions. France is favorable to dialogue.”

The 25 year-old Neymar, who bids farewell to Spain’s FC Barcelona, struck a deal that is said to reach as much as $600 million, including wages and add-ons, for a five-year contract – a record.

The move comes amid global tensions over Qatar, after the Arab quartet in June cut ties with Qatar for sponsoring terrorism.

Former French president Sarkozy may have taken bribes in Qatar Fifa bid

Sarkozy accepts a gift from the then-Qatari Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, during a visit to Doha in 2008.

Nicolas Sarkozy is set to be embroiled in the criminal investigation into Qatar’s World Cup bid amid suggestions he may have benefited from multi-million-pound business deals linked to the Gulf state.

Accoring to the Daily Telegraph, French investigators are examining whether France’s former president may have received funds from transactions negotiated around the time of the 2022 bid, including from the sale of Paris Saint-Germain football club to Qatar.

Qatar is facing a series of international criminal inquiries into its successful World Cup bid amid claims that huge bribes were paid to secure support.

France emerged as one of the key backers of the Qatari bid and Sepp Blatter, the former head of Fifa, has claimed that Sarkozy was a central figure in ensuring that the plan was supported by Paris and the other European nations whose representatives took part in the vote in 2010.

Qatar, where daytime temperatures can reach 104F (40C), was an unlikely candidate to host the World Cup.

Following the announcement of its successful candidacy the tiny state faced claims that it had “been pushing money around”, and further disclosures and allegations have followed about incentives offered to Fifa executive committee members in return for their votes.

In June, Fifa published an internal report by Michael Garcia, an American lawyer, into the bidding process, which raised further questions about the country’s campaign.

A source close to the French inquiries said that officers were examining several deals, which also include the purchase of a stake in a French utility firm by Qatari Diar, the state-owned investment company.

The Telegraph understands that prosecutors are also examining deals overseen by Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad, a Qatari businessman. One of the deals that prosecutors are examining is the sale of Veolia, the French waste company, in which Qatari Diar, which was run by Al Saad, bought a 5 per cent stake in April 2010. Investigators are attempting to trace 182 million euros (164 million pounds) which they believe “may have been siphoned off on the sidelines” in relation to the Veolia deal.

Sources close to the inquiry have said that prosecutors suspect that some of these funds may have been used to make payments to officials connected to the World Cup. As part of the inquiry, officers visited Cyprus in an attempt to locate funds associated with the Veolia deal. Mr Sarkozy is known to be close to several current and former Veolia executives and as such, prosecutors are likely to be examining whether he may have been offered or received any funds.

Another part of the investigation centres around a meeting that took place between Sarkozy, Platini, and Qatari officials 10 days before the vote. The meeting at the Elysee Palace is said to be where Qatar agreed to buy PSG, another deal being examined by French investigators.

The PSG deal is being investigated as the club’s 198 million pounds bid to sign Barcelona’s Brazilian forward Neymar was accepted earlier this week, with a record-breaking five-year deal amounting to some 400 million pounds.

According to the daily Telegraph’s Paul Hayward, Neymar’s transfer less about football and more about politics.

Imports to the 2022 World Cup host nation are down 40 per cent after four Arab neighbours severed air, sea and land connections with the country.

Breaking up Barca’s magical MSN front-line (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) would solve Qatar’s imports plunge at a stroke, even if Neymar would be stationed in Paris.

It would also complete the most political transfer in football history. This is the geopolitical backdrop to Qatar’s desperate quest for long-term relevance, Hayward says.

Aside from growing furore in Europe over Qatar’s “buying up” of European brands and businesses, Doha is separately facing fierce criticism from neighbouring countries over its alleged support for terrorist groups and Iran.

Last month, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The four countries have also placed on lists of terrorism dozens of people and groups associated with Qatar.

The US said on Thursday it would be sending a diplomat and a retired general to the region in a new attempt to help defuse the crisis.

Tim Lenderking, deputy assistant secretary for Arabian Gulf Affairs in the Near East Bureau, and Retired General Anthony Zinni are expected to arrive in the Arabian Gulf this week.

Mediation efforts, led by Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, so far, have not succeeded in overcoming the gap between the two sides.

Zinni, 74, is a retired United States Marine Corps general and a former Commander-in-Chief of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

Former senior China Development Bank official jailed for 14 years for graft

August 5, 2017


AUGUST 5, 2017 / 2:23 AM

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s anti-graft watchdog said on Saturday the former head of the supervisory board at China Development Bank, the country’s largest policy lender, has been jailed for 14 years and fined 3.5 million yuan ($520,276) for receiving bribes.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement on its website that Yao Zhongmin accepted bribes amounting to 36.2 million yuan directly or indirectly through his brother between 2002 and 2013.

He accepted the money in exchange for help with loans and other contract work, it said.

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Yao Zhongmin, a former senior executive of China Development Bank (CDB), was expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and removed from office for corruption.

The court handed down a lighter sentence because Yao assisted with the investigation by admitting guilt and disclosing the whereabouts of the proceeds of his crime, the CCDI said.

The watchdog announced in June 2016 that Yao was under investigation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has waged a widespread campaign against corruption, targeting sectors from the military to finance.

($1 = 6.7272 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Engen Tham; Editing by Paul Tait

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Israeli Police: PM Suspected of Breach of Trust, Bribes

August 3, 2017

JERUSALEM — An Israeli police document says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of crimes involving breach of trust and bribes in two corruption cases.

The document released to media outlets Thursday night says the cases involving Netanyahu deal with suspicion of “bribes” and “breach of trust.” Police put a gag order on reporting any additional details.

Police have been questioning Netanyahu for months over corruption allegations for allegedly receiving gifts from high-powered Hollywood and business figures and separately over secret talks with the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, a major Israeli newspaper, for positive coverage in exchange for diminishing the impact of a free pro-Netanyahu daily in 2014.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing, portraying the accusations as a witch hunt against him and his family by a hostile media opposed to his political views.

Brazil’s Temer Seen Likely to Defeat Corruption Charges in Congress

August 2, 2017

BRASILIA — The lower house of Brazil’s Congress began debating whether President Michel Temer should stand trial on a corruption charge for allegedly taking bribes, ahead of an unprecedented vote on Wednesday that he is expected to survive.

The deeply unpopular leader is trying to shake off a scandal that has paralyzed his administration, saying he wants to focus on passing legislation needed to end a budget crisis and help pull Latin America’s largest economy from its worst recession.

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President Michel Temer  (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Opposition lawmakers chanted “Out with Temer!” on the House floor and walked in with briefcases stuffed with fake money.

Brazil’s top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot in June charged Temer with arranging to eventually receive a total of 38 million reais ($12.16 million) in bribes from the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA in return for political favors.

Temer and his legal team deny any wrongdoing.

The congressman responsible for recommending whether to proceed with the charge against Temer, Paulo Abi-Ackel, of the government-allied Brazilian Social Democracy Party, said the charge filed by Janot lacked proof.

He credited Temer with turning around Latin America’s largest economy, with inflation, interest rates and record unemployment falling, and incipient signs of renewed growth.

“Is this the right time to be removing the president?” Abi-Ackel said on the House floor, appealing to his peers to support Temer.

The president’s allies are confident his opponents would not muster the two-thirds of the full house vote needed to send the charge to the Supreme Court, where Temer could be put on trial.

According to Arko Advice, a Brasilia-based consulting firm, their survey of lawmakers shows Temer will win between 257 and 270 votes, enough to avoid trial, but less than the president’s supporters have said they need for a real show of strength.


The lower house vote will gauge how much political capital Temer still has to block additional charges federal prosecutors are preparing to file against him and to advance a crucial overhaul of Brazil’s costly pension system.

Even some Temer opponents say it is unlikely the charge against him would advance on Wednesday.

“It is very hard to get 342 votes,” said Congressman Rubens Bueno of the Popular Socialist Party, which quit Temer’s coalition after the leader was caught up in the corruption investigation.

“What matters is how many votes he gets. If Temer does not have a comfortable majority, his government will become unstable,” Bueno told Reuters.

Temer has scrambled for support in recent days to avoid becoming the second president to be ousted in a year in a deepening crisis fueled by massive corruption investigations.

Temer’s hold on office could become precarious if new corruption charges are brought against him as expected. With the 2018 election year approaching, key lawmakers have told Reuters they would find it harder to back him again later his year.

Janot, has said he will file at least two more graft-related charges against Temer before he steps down in mid-September.

Janot is considering filing the charges of obstruction of justice and racketeering sooner if lawmakers reject the first corruption charge on Wednesday, an official with direct knowledge of the investigation told Reuters.

Janot’s team has to provide evidence linking Temer to a payment made by JBS to his right-hand man, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who was arrested in June after a police video caught him rushing out of a Sao Paulo restaurant carrying a bag full of cash handed to him by a JBS executive.

Brazil has impeached two presidents, including Temer’s leftist predecessor Dilma Rousseff, whom he succeeded last year, in a move Rousseff called a ‘coup’ orchestrated by Temer and allies in an attempt to disrupt the corruption investigation.

But Temer would be the first to face trial for corruption if any charge against him is eventually approved.

($1 = 3.1240 reais)

(Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello, Ricardo Brito and Lisandra Paraguassú; Editing by Paul Tait and Alistair Bell)



Ex-chief of Brazil’s Petrobras arrested in graft probe

July 27, 2017


© AFP/File | Aldemar Bendine, pictured in this December 15, 2015 file photo, is accused of working with associates to organize 3 million reais in bribes from Odebrecht

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Brazilian federal police on Thursday arrested a former head of Petrobras and the Banco do Brasil, marking a new phase of a sweeping graft probe into the state-owned oil company.

Three people were detained in the operation, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement, as part of the “Car Wash” investigation that has uncovered systemic corruption and ensnared many of Brazil’s political and business elites.

According to the statement, ex-chief of Petrobras Aldemir Bendine and associates are “suspected of organizing bribes worth 3 million reais” (currently about $946,000) from construction conglomerate Odebrecht.

The group would have received the sum in payments “that were only interrupted” following the arrest of Odebrecht CEO Marcelo Odebrecht in 2015, the statement said.

Bendine led Banco do Brasil from 2009 to 2015 and headed Petrobras from February 2015 to May 2016.

Dozens of senior leaders across the political spectrum and high-ranking businessmen have been investigated or convicted since the sprawling corruption scandal began in 2014.

Philippines puts big casinos on money-laundering watch — China watching Macau more closely after fraud and money laundering trial

July 19, 2017


© AFP/File | A mega-casino in the Philippines: the establishments will now have to report suspicious transactions

MANILA (AFP) – The Philippines said Wednesday it would monitor large transactions at casinos to curb money-laundering, after proceeds from an $81 million theft were funnelled through several gambling establishments last year.President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law this week adding the gaming sector to monitored institutions.

Casinos must now report to the central bank’s Anti-Money Laundering Council all transactions exceeding five million pesos (around $99,000).

The law authorises the council to obtain court orders freezing these funds for up to six months if it is suspected they were “in any way related to an unlawful activity”.


Funds proven in a court trial to be related to crime will be forfeited to the state.

The Philippines passed its first anti-money laundering law in 2001 to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force, a group of countries dedicated to keeping the international financial system off-limits to criminals.

The task force had since been calling on Manila to expand the institutions required to report suspicious transactions, in line with other task force members.

The original law only covered banks, trust entities, insurance companies, investment houses, securities dealers, moneychangers and money remittance firms.

Hackers stole $81 million from a US account of the Bangladesh central bank last year.

Most of the funds disappeared after being funnelled in February 2016 through a Philippine bank and several casinos

The Philippines has in recent years emerged as a gaming hub aiming to rival Las Vegas and Macau, with 2015 gross gaming revenues of about 133.3 billion pesos according to latest regulatory figures available.

Over the past four years three huge casinos costing at least a billion dollars each have risen on government-owned reclaimed land on Manila Bay called Entertainment City, with a fourth scheduled to open in 2019.


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Macau’s former chief prosecutor Ho Chio-meng jailed 21 years for crimes including fraud and money laundering

Former top official, who faced 1,536 charges in high-profile trial, was tipped to be city’s next leader

By Raquel Carvalho
South China Morning Post

 Saturday, 15 July, 2017, 12:09am

Macau’s former top prosecutor Ho Chio-meng was jailed on Friday for 21 years for crimes including aggravated fraud, money laundering and initiating or founding a criminal association.

Ho, 62, who left the court shouting that he was innocent, will also have to pay more than 18 million patacas (HK$17 million) to the prosecutor general’s office, and, separately, over 57 million patacas either by himself or with others, to the office.

Additionally, more than 12 million patacas in assets belonging to Ho and his wife will revert to the administration.

Ho, who faced 1,536 charges and was convicted of 10 types of crime, has no right of appeal ­because he was judged by the highest court in Macau.

He was prosecutor general from 1999 to 2014 and once tipped to become chief executive.

 (From left) Leong Weng-pun was Ho’s first lawyer earlier in the trial. Photo: David Wong

From 2004 to 2014, he awarded hundreds of public works contracts worth million of patacas from the prosecutions office to ­local businessmen. He and nine others were accused of pocketing at least 44 million patacas.

A three-person panel of judges concluded that actions by Ho “damaged the prosecutor general’s office and Macau society”.

Judge Song Man-lei said the behaviour of Ho had tarnished the office’s image. He had also denied the facts and shown no regret.

Despite acknowledging some administrative infractions, Ho ­repeatedly denied throughout the trial all the charges against him.

His lawyer, Oriana Pun, said she was “disappointed with the sentence and the crimes he was convicted for”. She noted the right to appeal was a “basic right”.

The case triggered renewed calls for the revision of the law that obliges top officials to be judged by the Court of Final Appeal.

Ho was arrested on February 27 last year when he was about to board a ferry to Hong Kong. His trial began on December 9.

It was the second high-profile case involving a top official since Macau returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999.

In 2006, former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man-long was arrested and later jailed for 29 years for 90 crimes mostly related to money laundering and taking bribes.

However, the Ho case is ­believed to have involved the highest number of charges in the history of Macau, and raised suspicions that high-ranking officials were behaving with impunity.

The trial of the nine suspects at the Court of First Instance ended on Wednesday, and they will hear their fate on August 15.

Some linked the fall of Ho to the anti-corruption drive of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ho was replaced in a reshuffle by current chief executive Fernando Chui Sai-on in late 2014.

The reshuffle, which also ­included other top officials, was seen at the time as a consequence of the anti-graft campaign.


Brazil Congressional Panel Votes Against Putting Temer on Trial

July 13, 2017

BRASILIA — A Brazilian congressional committee on Thursday voted against sending a corruption charge against President Michel Temer to the Supreme Court for the leader to be put on trial.

The vote is non-binding and the full house must still vote on the charge, which would only be approved if two-thirds of legislators vote for it.

Temer was charged last month in connection with a graft scheme involving the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA. General Prosecutor Rodrigo Janot accused Temer of arranging to receive a total of 38 million reais ($11.85 million) in bribes from JBS in the next nine months.

($1 = 3.2072 reais)

(Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Tom Brown)

Rapporteur asks Brazil lower house committee to accept charge against Temer — Temer could stand trial and immediately be suspended from the presidency for up to 180 days

July 11, 2017


The rapporteur for a Brazilian lower house committee examining a corruption charge against President Michel Temer recommended on Monday that the body vote to put Temer on trial.

Deputy Sergio Zveiter’s recommendation was widely expected. The full 66-member committee is likely to vote later this week on the charge against Temer before the full house vote.

Under Brazilian law, two-thirds of the lower house’s 513 members must approve the charge against Temer for it to move to the Supreme Court. The top court then must vote on whether it accepts the charge. I it does, Temer will stand trial and immediately be suspended from the presidency for up to 180 days. House Speaker Rodrigo Maia would temporarily take the presidency in that case.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Bill Trott)

Brazil Shuts Down Successful Corruption-Fighting Task Force — Exposed systemic corruption among the country’s political and business elites

July 10, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s Federal Police announced this week that it would shut down a crusading anticorruption task force, drawing a rebuke from prosecutors who warned the move could throttle investigations that have exposed systemic corruption among the country’s political and business elites.

The decision comes as President Michel Temer, who is among the politicians facing criminal charges stemming from the unit’s work, is scrambling to shore up support among lawmakers to to avoid trial over bribery allegations.

The Federal Police, which announced the shift on Thursday, characterized it as a bureaucratic reshuffling of personnel and resources that would increase efficiency. In a statement, it said that members of the team known as the Lava Jato, or Car Wash, task force would be absorbed into the organization’s main anticorruption division to more effectively “fight against corruption and money laundering and facilitate the exchange of information.”

Members of the task force, the country’s national association of prosecutors and the federation of Federal Police officers scoffed at that rationale.



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Brazil Authorities Seek Arrest of 95 Rio De Janeiro Police Officers In Long Term Police Corruption Cases

June 29, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian authorities issued arrest warrants on Thursday for 95 police officers in Rio de Janeiro state who they say have sold arms and tipped off drug gangs to future operations, in the largest such effort yet to root out corrupt officers.

Another 90 arrest warrants were issued for suspected drug traffickers, police and state prosecutors said in an emailed statement.

By midday, about 50 people had been arrested, roughly half of them police, authorities said.

Investigators said they were targeting police who maintain ties to the powerful drug gangs that control vast swaths of metropolitan Rio de Janeiro.

Police were accused of selling powerful rifles to gang leaders and tipping them off to police actions that would be carried out in the slums the gangs control in return for bribes.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)