Posts Tagged ‘bribes’

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


© 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.


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)

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Venezuela ex-prosecutor: I have proof of Maduro corruption

August 25, 2017

BBC News

Image result for Luisa Ortega, photos

Ms Ortega made her allegations after meeting regional prosecutors in Brazil

Venezuela’s dismissed chief prosecutor says she has proof of corruption within the top leadership, including evidence against President Nicolás Maduro.

Luisa Ortega also accused two party leaders and the new prosecutor.

Ms Ortega, who fled Venezuela last week after she was sacked and her husband charged with extortion, says her life is still in danger.

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She faces charges of misconduct, amid allegations she ignored corruption cases sent to her while in office.

The ex-prosecutor’s latest comments came at a press conference in the Brazilian capital, where she alleged that President Maduro had been involved in a bribery scheme centred on the Brazilian construction giant, Odebrecht.

“I want to denounce, in front of the world, a grave situation in Venezuela: that of excessive corruption,” Ms Ortega said.

“I have a lot of proof, concretely in the Odebrecht case, which implicates many high-ranking Venezuelans, starting with the president of the republic.”

She implicated the vice-president of the governing PSUV party, Diosdado Cabello, and influential party member Jorge Rodríguez in the Odebrecht case.

She also accused the new Venezuelan prosecutor, Tarek Saab, of corruption related to the country’s state oil company, PDVSA.

But Mr Saab has dismissed her allegations, saying: “There is no validity in what an ex-prosecutor can say after ten years of inaction against any of the people she is talking about now.”

There has been no response yet from Odebrecht, which has been at the centre of a huge investigation in Brazil over kickbacks for contracts.

The investigation has led to prosecutions in several countries in Latin America where Odebrecht and other Brazilian construction companies operated.

On Tuesday, President Nicolás Maduro said he would request an international arrest warrant against Ms Ortega and her husband, former loyalist congressman Germán Ferrer.

Mr Maduro said both were working with the United States against his government and had committed serious crimes.

Luisa Ortega made a dramatic exit from her role as chief prosecutor

Venezuela’s controversial new constituent assembly sacked her for misconduct, with President Maduro saying she had ignored corruption cases sent to her by the government.

Mr Ferrer is accused of extortion and corruption allegedly happening within the office of the chief prosecutor.

Ms Ortega has said she fears for her life and wants to hand over the documents she is carrying to other countries so they can investigate her allegations.

“The most serious thing,” she said, “is that everything is connected to corruption. Everything that has happened to me is because of a series of allegations I have made.”

Officials in Colombia who offered her asylum and protection have suggested that Ms Ortega and her husband will seek asylum in the United States.

Why is Venezuela in crisis?

Opposition demonstrators protest against the National Constituent Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, 4 August 2017. V
  • More than 120 people have been killed in anti-government protests since April
  • President Nicolás Maduro’s popularity fell amid attempts to increase his political powers and a deepening economic crisis
  • This was compounded by the falling price of oil, which accounts for about 95% of Venezuela’s export revenues, and led to cuts to the government’s social programmes
  • Basic necessities, such as medicine and food, are in short supply
  • The opposition accuses Mr Maduro of mismanaging the economy and eroding democratic institutions
  • His decision to set up a controversial National Assembly, which was elected in July, sparked nearly daily protests, with opponents labelling it a slide towards dictatorship

Inside the anti-government protests

Brazil: New Phase of ‘Car Wash’ Corruption Probe

August 23, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s federal police said on Wednesday they launched a new phase of the “Car Wash” corruption probe, targeting individuals who allegedly favored a private contractor to win business from state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

The police served four search warrants in two states and the federal district, a statement said. There was evidence that two individuals allegedly paid bribes to help an unnamed U.S.-based company obtain Petrobras contracts, police said.

Last week, Brazilian authorities carried out two new phases of “Car Wash,” ensnaring U.S. asphalt maker Sargeant Marine, six Greek shipping companies and a former Brazilian congressman in the wide-ranging graft probe.

The phase announced Wednesday targets two lawyers who allegedly participated in the scheme, and received commissions related to the hiring of an unnamed U.S. company, according to the statement.

It is not clear if the U.S. firm implicated last week is the same as the one this week, but the police said the latest operation extends the work of recent prior phases.

The police are holding a news conference at 10 a.m. local time (1300 GMT).

Separately, late Tuesday Brazil’s Supreme Court agreed to put former president and current Senator Fernando Collor on trial on corruption charges.

Collor allegedly took millions of dollars in bribes between 2010 and 2014 to help UTC Engenharia and other firms win contracts with BR Distribuidora SA, the fuel distribution unit of Petrobras, according to prosecutors.

Collor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Collor is the second former Brazilian president to face trial on corruption charges. Earlier this month former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was found guilty on graft charges. He is free, pending an appeal.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Editing by W Simon and JS Benkoe)

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.