Posts Tagged ‘bribes’

China Scolds Australia Over Its Fears of Foreign Influence

December 6, 2017
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia with China’s president, Xi Jinping, in the Chinese city of Hangzhou last year. Mr. Turnbull proposed laws this week aimed at curbing foreign influence in Australian politics. Credit Pool photo by Wang Zhao

SYDNEY, Australia — The Chinese Embassy in Australia accused Australian officials on Wednesday of “making irresponsible remarks” and damaging “mutual trust,” a day after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled a series of proposed laws to curb foreign influence in Australian politics.

The new legislation, modeled on American laws that ban foreign campaign donations and require registration of foreign agents, had been widely expected after a drumbeat of stories in the Australian news media about the perceived threat of Chinese interference.

It was not the legislation that the Chinese statement directly condemned, but rather the media accounts that prompted it, as well as the public debate around the issue. Both have zeroed in on China as a threat, accusing the country of trying to exert influence through political donations and pressure applied to Chinese students at Australian universities.

“We categorically reject those allegations,” the embassy said in its statement, adding: “China has no intention to interfere in Australia’s internal affairs or exert influence on its political process through political donations. We urge the Australian side to look at China and China-Australia relations in an objective, fair and rational manner.”

The statement pointed to strong discontent from China’s leaders in Beijing, and it amounted to a warning for Australian politicians against continuing to portray China as an enemy. But experts said the statement might only heighten concerns about China’s influence and damage its already tarnished image in Australia.

“Over all there is a sense of overreach by China, and the way this statement is worded will compound that,” said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at Australian National University. “This statement will be seen as unhelpful and provocative in some circles in Australia.”

China has long treated Australia as a laboratory for soft power experiments, flexing its economic muscle, sending students to study at its universities and creating organizations with close ties to the Communist Party.

Australia’s loose and opaque campaign finance laws have made the country especially vulnerable to outside influence. Earlier this year, Australia’s intelligence chief identified two prominent businessmen of Chinese descent, who have donated millions of dollars across the political spectrum in recent years, as possible agents for the Chinese government.

Since then, Australia has been engaged in an intensifying discussion about whether to accept or resist China’s dominance in the region. The debate has sharpened recently amid accusations that Senator Sam Dastyari of the opposition Labor Party hewed to Chinese foreign policy on some issues after accepting money from Chinese-born political donors.

The proposed new foreign influence laws are one clear result of such concerns. But it is unclear to what extent China is concerned about the laws themselves.

One provision would require people working on behalf of another country to register with the Australian government, as is mandated in the United States. Among the other proposals, there are plans to create an offense known as unlawful interference in Australia’s political system, which would include behaviors — as yet unspecified — that harm the national interest.

Some people who are especially concerned about Chinese interference in Australia have welcomed the proposals as much-needed counterweights.

“This is an exciting development indeed, although it should have happened earlier,” said Feng Chongyi, a Chinese-born professor at the University of Technology Sydney who has often criticized China’s suppression of dissent.

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Senator Sam Dastyari speaking in Parliament last month. The senator, of the opposition Labor Party, has been accused of hewing to Chinese foreign policy on some issues after accepting money from Chinese-born political donors. CreditMick Tsikas/European Pressphoto Agency

China may see the laws as inevitable, he said.

If that is the case, some experts argue, the embassy’s statement Wednesday may in fact be an effort to pressure the Australian news media, and to influence how the media is perceived by the Chinese Australian community.

The embassy statement focused intensely on media accounts of “so-called Chinese influence and infiltration,” arguing that they were “made up out of thin air” and reflected “a typical anti-China hysteria.”

It also argued that Australia’s discussion about China’s role has “unscrupulously vilified the Chinese students as well as the Chinese community in Australia with racial prejudice, which in turn has tarnished Australia’s reputation as a multicultural society.”

John Fitzgerald, a professor at Swinburne University who spent five years representing the Ford Foundation in China, said the Chinese government seemed to be trying to portray itself as the defender of Chinese Australians against the Australian news media.

“The embassy itself is stirring up concerns within the Chinese Australian community that have no foundation,” Mr. Fitzgerald said, adding: “The media is not attacking the Chinese Australian community. The media is being very specific about Communist Party interference in this country.”

So far, Australian officials have chosen not to escalate the argument. Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister, said in a statement Wednesday evening that the Australian government “enjoys a respectful and constructive relationship with China.”

Mr. Medcalf said the statement from the Chinese Embassy had one line that could be helpful: “China has no intention to interfere in Australia’s internal affairs or exert influence on its political process through political donations.”

“That is a statement China will be held to,” he said. “Let’s hope China is serious.”

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Deadline looms for South Africa’s Zuma over revived graft charges — 800 corruption charges

November 30, 2017

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FILE PHOTO: South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma gestures during the last day of the six-day meeting of the African National Congress 5th National Policy Conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Soweto, South Africa, July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo Reuters

 

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Lawyers for Jacob Zuma have until midnight to file papers outlining why nearly 800 corruption charges shelved before he became South African president eight years ago but recently reinstated by the courts should not be brought against him.

The revival of the charges could increase pressure on Zuma to step down before his term ends in 2019 and diminish his influence over who succeeds him when the ruling African National Congress (ANC) chooses a new leader in December.

The 75-year-old president has faced and denied numerous other corruption allegations since taking office in 2009.

The 783 charges, which relate to a 30 billion rand ($2.2 billion) government arms deal arranged in the late 1990s, were filed but then dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) shortly before he ran for the presidency.

South Africa’s High Court reinstated the charges last year and the Supreme Court upheld that decision in October, rejecting an appeal by Zuma and describing the NPA’s decision to set aside the charges as “irrational”.

The NPA said then that Zuma had until Nov. 30 to make submissions before it decided whether to pursue the charges.

Spokesmen for the NPA and Zuma were not available for comment on Thursday.

Last month’s Supreme Court ruling lifted the rand currency against the dollar as investors bet that Zuma’s removal may be inching closer.

The president is unpopular with many investors after sacking respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March, a move that hit South African financial assets and helped tip the country’s credit ratings into “junk” territory.

Infighting within the ruling ANC ahead of next month’s conference to elect a successor to Zuma as party chief has also sapped confidence among the investors upon whom South Africa relies to finance its hefty budget and current account deficits.

One of South Africa’s leading universities, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, said on Thursday that it had appointed Gordhan as a visiting professor.

He will join other ANC heavyweights who have ended up at the Wits after being sidelined by Zuma, among them another respected and ousted finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, and former Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni.

Widely seen as a competent and honest technocrat, Gordhan has become an unlikely poster boy for public anger at the president, whose administration has been marred by missteps and allegations of corruption. Zuma denies any wrongdoing.

($1 = 13.6794 rand)

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Ed Cropley and Catherine Evans)

What you need to know about Hillary Clinton, Russia, and uranium

October 24, 2017

By Louis JacobsonJohn Kruzel on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at 11:57 a.m.

A 2016 campaign attack involving former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her role in a uranium sale that involved Russia is back in the news.

With new revelations, increased media attention and reader requests, we decided to take another look. Because the details of the story are murky and based in part on anonymous sources, we won’t put any claims to the Truth-O-Meter.

Instead, we’ll explain what we knew previously, what new information has come to light, and what we still don’t know.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton.  CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images

What we knew before

This complex tale involves a company with significant U.S. uranium assets, the Clinton Foundation, and a decision by several federal agencies to allow greater Russian influence in the United States’ uranium market.

It first emerged in the book Clinton Cash, a 2015 investigation by Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Peter Schweizer. The book looked into donations to the Clinton Foundation; an April 2015 New York Times article also documented the connections.

In 2007, Frank Giustra, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, sold his company, UrAsia, to another company, Uranium One, and unloaded his personal stake in it. The combined company kept Uranium One as its name but Toronto as its base. Under the terms of the deal, the shareholders of UrAsia retained a 60 percent stake in the new company.

Uranium One had mines, mills and tracts of land in WyomingUtah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. Its actual production is a smaller portion of uranium produced in the United States, at 11 percent in 2014, according to Oilprice.com.

In 2009, Russia’s nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, bought a 17 percent share of Uranium One. In 2010, Rosatom sought to secure enough shares to give it a 51 percent stake.

On the one hand, Russia doesn’t have a license to export uranium outside the United States, so, as Oilprice.org noted, “it’s somewhat disingenuous to say this uranium is now Russia’s, to do with what it pleases.”

That said, the possibility that a foreign entity would take a majority stake in the uranium operation meant that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, had to approve the deal. So did the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Utah’s nuclear regulator.

The membership of CFIUS includes the State Department, meaning that the Secretary of State would have had a voice. The panel also includes the attorney general and the secretaries of the Treasury (who chairs the committee), Defense, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security, as well as the the heads of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

CFIUS did approve the proposal, and in 2013, Russia assumed 100 percent ownership of Uranium One and renamed the company Uranium One Holding.

Why would the United States allow the transfer of a uranium company?

As others, including a New York Times’ investigation, have suggested, the United States was still seeking to “reset” its relationship with Russia and trying to get the Kremlin on board with its Iran nuclear deal. But another factor may have been that, at the end of the day, the Russian deal wasn’t that big.

Russia’s purchase of the company “had as much of an impact on national security as it would have if they set the money on fire,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute and former director at the New America Foundation, in an interview with PolitiFact last year. “That’s probably why (CFIUS and the NRC) approved it.”

Why some of the critics’ charges during the campaign went too far

In June 2016, we fact-checked a statement by then-candidate Donald Trump — who was running against Clinton for president — that Clinton’s State Department “approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.”

We gave the statement a rating of Mostly False. While the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Russian deal may appear fishy, there was simply no proof of any quid pro quo.

Trump’s allegation went too far in two ways.

One, Trump seemed to say that Clinton bears all of the responsibility for the deal’s approval. That is incorrect.

Clinton told a New Hampshire TV station in June 2015 that “I was not personally involved because that wasn’t something the secretary of state did.” And Jose Fernandez, who served as assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs under Clinton and represented the department on the panel, told the Times that Clinton “never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

But even if you don’t take either Clinton or Fernandez at their word, the reality is that the State Department was just one of nine government agencies that signed off on the transaction.

Second, while we concluded that nine people related the company did at some point donate to the Clinton Foundation, we found that the bulk of the $145 million came from Giustra. Guistra said he sold all of his stakes in Uranium One in the fall of 2007, “at least 18 months before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state” and three years before the Russian deal.

We couldn’t independently verify Giustra’s claim, but if he is telling the truth, the donation amount to the Clinton Foundation from confirmed Uranium One investors drops from more than $145 million to $4 million.

The main exception is Ian Telfer, an investor who the New York Times found donated between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the Clinton Foundation during and after the review process for the Russian deal.

So while Trump was within his right to question links between foundation donors and their ties to Uranium one, his specific charge was exaggerated.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post Fact Checker subsequently looked at a similar Trump statement: “Remember that Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 percent of American uranium and, you know, she was paid a fortune. You know, they got a tremendous amount of money.”

The Fact Checker came to the same conclusion about Trump’s misleading language, giving Trump’s assertion its worst rating of Four Pinocchios.

Why this story is coming up again

After Trump won the presidency, the Uranium One story received relatively little attention — perhaps because Clinton is now a private citizen rather than serving as president. But that changed in the wake of a report published in the Hill newspaper on Oct. 17, 2017.

The article’s key finding was that by the time CFIUS was weighing the deal, the FBI had been investigating whether Russia was trying to gain influence in the U.S. nuclear industry. The report said that the FBI has already “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

The implication of the Hill article is that Clinton either did know, or should have known, about problems with the Russian bid for Uranium One before deciding whether to let it go forward. (Clinton, the FBI and the Justice Department did not provide a comment on this story.)

The article cited FBI, Energy Department and court documents showing that the FBI had gathered “substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.”

However, rather than bringing immediate charges in 2010, the article said, the Justice Department “continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.”

What remains unclear after the newest report?

The relevance of the Hill report  for Clinton’s role would be whether she knew anything about this investigation at a time when she could have used her role in CFIUS to block the Russian deal. (It could also be relevant for the actions by then-Attorney General Eric Holder, whose department has a seat on CFIUS.)

For now at least, we aren’t aware of any evidence that Clinton knew anything about the FBI investigation. If anything, the Hill’s reporting suggests the opposite.

The Hill article quoted Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, saying that he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case.

” ‘I had no idea this case was being conducted,’ a surprised Hosko said in an interview,” the Hill article reported.

At least one key lawmaker — then-Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who chaired the House Intelligence Committee at the time — also said he did not know about the investigation.

If the assistant FBI director at the time knew nothing of the investigation, then Clinton — someone in a different department and several rungs higher in the organizational chart — might not have known about it.

Stewart A. Baker, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, was skeptical that such information would have reached the Secretary of State — “at least not until she was asked to weigh in on the transaction, and that would only happen if it were deeply controversial, which it was not. In my experience, the State Department was always one of the quickest agencies to urge approval of a deal, and they did that without checking with the Secretary.”

The vast majority of cases that CFIUS reviews are handled by lower-ranking staffers and appointees, added Stephen Heifetz, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson who specializes in CFIUS law.

“Even though the heads of the CFIUS agencies comprise CFIUS as a matter of law,” he said, “it is relatively rare to have a cabinet secretary directly involved in a CFIUS case.”

That said, several experts said they were surprised that word had not filtered up from the FBI.

The FBI “is well represented as part of the Justice Department’s CFIUS team,” Baker said. “It would be somewhat surprising to me if a company was under scrutiny as a buyer in CFIUS and simultaneously under investigation for criminal behavior by the FBI, but the criminal investigation was not known to the FBI’s representatives on CFIUS.”

In addition, it’s Justice Department policy to consolidate all Foreign Corrupt Practices Act inquiries within department headquarters in Washington, said Michael Koehler, a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law and an expert on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This makes word of those cases more likely to reach top officials than other types of investigations.

And the fact that the Mikerin case included a confidential informant makes it “more likely than not that top Justice Department or FBI officials either knew of the inquiry or should have known of the inquiry,” Koehler said.

Even if word had filtered up to CFIUS this way, it might not have been enough to scuttle the deal, Heifetz added.

“CFIUS often has cleared transactions when there is adverse information about foreign investors but no apparent risk to national security,” he said.

Ultimately, we don’t know enough to be able to say whether the apparent lack of information about the FBI investigation among higher ups was due to internal reporting failures or the more mundane reality that ground-level FBI investigations take time to mature and solidify.

But for now, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that Clinton’s actions — ill-advised as they might have been — were any more problematic than it seemed they were a year ago.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/oct/24/what-you-need-know-about-hillary-clinton-and-urani/

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Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn’t 

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Complete coverage of the Clinton Foundation Scandal.

http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/senate-investigates-russia-hillary-clinton-obama-uranium-and-bribes-and-its-about-time/

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AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

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House committees announce probe into Russia uranium deal

October 24, 2017

By KATIE BO WILLIAMS – 

The Hill

Two powerful House committees on Tuesday announced a joint investigation into the 2010 sale of a U.S. uranium company to a Russian company.

The two panels, the House Intelligence and Oversight and Government Reform Committees, will first probe whether there was an FBI investigation into the deal, approved when former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) on Monday cited “very, very real concerns about why we would allow a Russian-owned company to get access to 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.”

“It’s important we find out why that deal went through,” he said.

A confidential informant has come forward to the committees, according to Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and the two panels are currently in discussions with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release that individual from a nondisclosure agreement.

The renewed interest in the so-called Uranium One deal came after The Hill reported last week that the FBI had gathered solid evidence that Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks as part of an effort to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The company controlled land equal to about 20 percent of the U.S.’s uranium capacity, according to Oilprice.com — although experts note that the U.S. doesn’t actually produce a significant amount of the world’s uranium stock.

The State Department did not take unilateral action but instead was one of a nine-agency review board, known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The Clinton campaign has maintained that the then-secretary of State was not directly involved in the process.

Clinton told C-SPAN on Monday that renewed focus on Russian uranium deals approved during her tenure is nothing more than debunked “baloney” — and signals that Republicans are getting nervous about the federal investigation into Russia’s attempts to swing the 2016 election. That probe includes looking for any signs of collusion with the Trump campaign itself.

Intelligence Committee head Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) declined on Tuesday to say whether the committees expect to call forward Clinton to testify.

“It’s a little premature. Let us first determine whether or not there was an open investigation by FBI or DOJ and then we’ll get back to you with more information,” Nunes told reporters.

House leadership is fully behind the Uranium One probe, DeSantis said Tuesday. Republicans view the Uranium One probe as distinct from the broader House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian election meddling, long stymied by partisan infighting.

Nunes, who stepped back from leading that probe this spring, said that he has as of yet had no contact with the White House on this investigation. Nunes in April faced accusations from Democrats of carrying water for Trump when he announced that he had briefed the White House on information that turned out to have come from staff on the president’s National Security Council.

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http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/356885-house-committees-announce-probe-into-russia-uranium-deal
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Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

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Complete coverage of the Clinton Foundation Scandal.

http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/senate-investigates-russia-hillary-clinton-obama-uranium-and-bribes-and-its-about-time/

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AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Putin always thought she was very smart.

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Senate Investigates Russia, Hillary Clinton, Obama, Uranium And Bribes — And It’s About Time

October 20, 2017

Obama Scandals: We now know, thanks to an investigation by The Hill, that the Russian scandal’s roots go far deeper than first thought, extending all the way to the start of the Obama administration. Many people seemed to know about it: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder and, even, President Obama himself. Now, a Senate committee wants to know how much they knew, and why no one stopped the criminal behavior.

The scandal over Russia has suddenly, weirdly morphed from being about “Russian meddling” in the 2016 election to actual criminal behavior by Russian nuclear industry officials who were involved in bribes, extortion, kickbacks and money laundering here  in the U.S. — all part of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s efforts to elbow his way into the U.S. uranium market.

It’s finally dawning on people: The Russian nuclear racketeering was an Obama administration scandal, which Congress ignored and the Justice Department investigated but did nothing to stop. Justice looked into the Russian crimes in 2009 and 2010, but waited until 2014 to do anything about it. And even then, it didn’t answer any of the larger questions. It can’t be ignored any longer.

“According to government documents and recent news reports, the Justice Department had an ongoing criminal investigation for bribery, extortion, money laundering, into officials for a Russian company making purchase of Uranium One,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “That purchase was approved during previous administration and resulted in Russians owning 20% of America’s uranium mining capacity.”

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As Grassley noted, the Russian takeover of a significant portion of our uranium assets took place despite what appears to be Russia’s blatant criminal conduct — conduct more befitting of an organized crime syndicate than representatives of a responsible national government.

For the record, as has been extensively documented, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems to be the nexus of much of this Russian criminality — ironic, given her current “What Happened” book tour, and her ongoing complaints that the Russians sabotaged her campaign.

Even as the Justice Department was looking into Russia’s criminal activity, in 2010 President Obama’s interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) curiously cleared Russia’s state-owned Rosatom to buy Uranium One, a Canadian mining company. Uranium One had extensive holdings in U.S. uranium, so the purchase required U.S. government approval.

Does it seem strange that an American administration would OK the acquisition of 20% of America’s uranium resources by a hostile nuclear power? How could that be?

It only makes sense if you understand what else was going on, namely Hillary Clinton’s aggressive use of her State Department perch to raise money for the family “charity,” the Clinton Foundation. That Clinton used her office to the foundation’s advantage, there can be little doubt.

The Clinton Foundation took in some $145 million in contributions from Uranium One shareholders, much of it coming at about the time that deal won approval from CFIUS — the investment panel on which both Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder conveniently sat. Is that a coincidence? Or that the Justice Department waited until 2014, the year after Hillary left office, to take any action in the Russian criminal matters? Or that details of the Uranium One deal didn’t come out until 2015, the year Eric Holder left office? Was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “reset” with the Russian government in 2009 just part of a wider plan to enrich her own family foundation with Russian cash?

We’d sure like to know the answers to these and other questions. At the very least, there is a clear prima facie case to be made for an investigation into the pay-for-play behavior in the Obama administration. We would hope that Sen. Grassley, whose investigation is just getting underway, would issue subpoenas to all the relevant parties — former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Then and only then will the American people discover the true dimensions of Russian meddling in the U.S. — and whether high officials in the Obama administration, in particular Hillary Clinton, committed crimes in office.

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Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

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http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/senate-investigates-russia-hillary-clinton-obama-uranium-and-bribes-and-its-about-time/

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AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Putin always thought she was very smart.

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Philippines’ Duterte Welcomes Probe Into Allegations He Hid Wealth

September 27, 2017

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte welcomes an investigation by the state’s anti-corruption agency into allegations by a senator that he failed to disclose his wealth when he was a city mayor, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Office of the Ombudsman confirmed on Tuesday it has initiated an inquiry into activities in several of Duterte’s bank accounts prior to him being elected president in May 2016. Duterte served as mayor, vice mayor and a congressman in Davao City for two decades.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

“The president has nothing to hide,” his spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said in a statement.

“The president respects the internal processes of the Office of the Ombudsman as an independent body and trusts its impartiality in the conduct of its fact-finding duty.”

Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang told reporters his office had approved a request last month by anti-graft investigators to obtain reports from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The investigation was in response to a complaint by Senator Antonio Trillanes that Duterte had amassed 2.2 billion pesos (32.19 million pounds) in three bank accounts between 2006 and 2015 when he was mayor, and had committed a criminal offence by failing to report that in his official assets declaration.

Duterte has sparred repeatedly with Trillanes, one of his staunchest critics, and recently alleged the senator had a number of secret overseas bank accounts. Duterte read out one Singaporean account number live on television.

After Trillanes took reporters to Singapore to prove no such account existed, Duterte admitted he had deliberately provided a false number, and gave a cryptic explanation for his reasons.

As president, Duterte has immunity from prosecution, but an investigation could provide grounds for impeachment. Political experts, however, say that scenario is highly unlikely given his immense popularity and control of the legislature.

Duterte has repeatedly said he would resign if there was proof of his wrongdoing.

Deputy Ombudsman Carandang declined to provide details of the investigation but confirmed his office had received copies of Duterte’s bank transactions, which he said showed more than a billion pesos went through those accounts over several years.

The accusations by Trillanes that Duterte had concealed assets was among a long list of allegations contained in an impeachment complaint against the president in March by another lawmaker, Gary Alejano. That was thrown out by lawmakers who found the complaint lacked substance.

Duterte, who claimed to be poor and of humble living when he campaigned for the presidency, on Tuesday said he had wealth from the sale of landholdings inherited from his father, a former governor and a Cabinet minister under late President Ferdinand Marcos. It was the first time Duterte had publicly mentioned such an inheritance.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty)

Four basketball coaches, Adidas executive charged in college payoff scandal

September 26, 2017

AFP

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | Four top NCAA basketball coaches are indicted for their involvement in huge payoffs made to players to commit to their teams

NEW YORK (AFP) – Four top US university basketball coaches and an Adidas executive were charged with corruption and fraud Tuesday in a sprawling scandal over player recruitment payoffs and athletic gear sponsorship bribes.Federal justice officials in New York unveiled felony charges against a total of 10 people in the case that lays bare the seedy underside of the multi-billion-dollar business of high school and college basketball in the United States.

University of Arizona’s Emmanuel Richardson, Auburn University’s Chuck Person, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State and Tony Bland of University of Southern California were the coaches named in indictments after a two-year FBI investigation.

Also named was James Gatto, Adidas’s director of global sports marketing for basketball. The others included prominent agents and financial advisors in the business.

“The investigation has revealed multiple instances of bribes paid by athlete advisors, including financial advisors and business managers, as well as high-level apparel company employees, and facilitated by coaches employed by NCAA Division I universities,” said one of three indictments released by the Justice Department.

The bribes were paid to high school and college basketball players and their families to commit to playing at specific universities and also to sign on to specific financial advisors once they move to the NBA league after university.

In one case Gatto and others working with him were accused of paying $100,000 to the family of a high school player in order to agree to join the team of a university in the NCAA’s top-flight Division I.

Another high school player was allegedly promised $150,000 to commit to retaining a certain agent once he moved to the professional level.

The athletes involved in the scandal were not identified. But the information in the indictments appeared to point to a player for Louisville, a perennial college basketball power already in trouble for providing prostitutes to players.

Brazil corruption scandal: President Temer slams judiciary

September 13, 2017

BBC News

    • 12 September 2017

Brazil"s President Michel Temer attends a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil September 12, 2017

Michel Temer has the lowest approval ratings of any Brazilian president in decades. Reuters photo

Brazil’s President Michel Temer has accused his country’s judiciary of using allegations of corruption to destroy reputations.

Mr Temer’s statement came just hours before a Supreme Court justice authorised a new corruption investigation into the president.

The president, like dozens of other Brazilian politicians, is already implicated in Operation Car Wash.

Mr Temer has denied all accusations of corruption.

In a statement released ahead of the anticipated announcement of the new charges, Mr Temer’s office slammed those investigating alleged corruption.

The biggest investigation of all is known as Operation Car Wash, said to involve bribes at the highest level. Among those implicated in the three-year investigation are two former presidents.

“We have reached the point where they try to convict people without even hearing them – without ending the investigation, without uncovering the truth, without verifying the existence of real proof,” Mr Temer’s office said.

“Individual rights are being violated every day without the slightest reaction.”

The statement went on to question prosecutors’ methods, which favoured the use of wire taps and statements from those who make plea deals.

The latest investigation is hinged on a recording of one of Mr Temer’s former aides, according to news agency Reuters.

“Reputations are shattered in conversations founded on clandestine actions,” the president’s statement said. “Bandits concoct versions based on hearsay in exchange for impunity or to obtain a pardon, even partial, for their innumerable crimes.”

Supreme Court justice Roberto Barroso decided on Tuesday investigators could probe Mr Temer’s link to corruption allegations surrounding a decree regulating ports that the president signed.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41248075

Related:

Brazil’s Top Court Approves New Graft Probe of President Temer

September 12, 2017

BRASILIA — Supreme Court Justice Roberto Barroso authorized federal prosecutors to investigate Brazilian President Michel Temer in an alleged corruption case involving a decree regulating ports, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

The investigation was based on a wiretapped conversation of a former Temer aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who allegedly discussed using his influence to shape the decree in return for bribes from a company.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Brad Haynes and Daniel Flynn)

Brazil Police Round Up Bad Guys in Corruption Probe of Meatpackers, Dairy Firms

August 30, 2017

In a statement, police said they were serving 11 arrest warrants, 28 search-and-seizure warrants and bringing in 12 people for questioning as part of the probe.

The statement did not disclose the names of any of the people involved.

The probe is one in a series of corruption scandals in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, ensnaring major companies from meatpackers and engineering firms to oil producers, as well as several high ranking politicians.

Police unveiled the investigation in May, citing meatpacker Minerva SA as one of the companies targeted. Calls to media representatives for Minerva went unanswered.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Image result for Minerva SA, brazil, photos