Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Mexico rules military fight against drug cartels is unlawful

November 16, 2018

Mexico’s top court has struck down a law that formalized the decade-old domestic deployment of the military. The military are widely seen as the only trustful agency capable of fighting against powerful drug cartels.

A Mexican military man guards the area where the 134 tons of marihuana are being cremated in a military base in Tijuana

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that had legalized the domestic deployment of the military against drug cartels.

Deploying the military against cartels has been commonplace in the country since 2006, but the situation was only formalized by legislation last year.

However, nine of the 11 justices in Mexico’s highest court ruled that the legislation violated the constitution. President Enrique Pena Nieto sent the bill directly to the court for review after signing it in, amid widespread outcry over the law.

The court found that Mexico’s Congress lacked the authority to legislate on “domestic security,” saying only the executive branch can dispatch troops.

The ruling comes just a day after the team of Mexico’s incoming president said withdrawing the military was not viable, as they are more trustworthy and capable than the often-corrupt police force.

Ahead of the ruling, human rights groups had warned the law could lead to further abuses by the military.

Read more: Mexico fighting endless war against cartels

No alternatives

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has long criticized the domestic military deployment, but is hamstrung by a lack of realistic alternatives. He has proposed creating a national guard uniting elements of the army, navy and federal police, but that would require lengthy constitutional reform.

An estimated 170,000 people have died in drug violence in Mexico and thousands more have gone missing. Last year alone, more than 31,000 people were murdered. The violence is driven by conflict between cartels over supply routes for heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs to the US.

The incoming president also hopes cut into the power of cartels by legalizing recreational and medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is on trial in the US, having reached the upper echelons of the cartel business before being extradited.

aw/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)


Indonesian woman gets jail after exposing philandering boss

November 16, 2018

An Indonesian woman who exposed her cheating boss has been slapped with a six-month jail term for her trouble.

The supreme court’s shock ruling overturned an earlier court decision that had cleared the woman, Baiq Nuril Maknun, of breaking a controversial law against spreading indecent material.

“I’m saddened and shocked by this sentence,” Maknun’s husband Lalu Muhamad Isnaini said Friday in reaction to the ruling, which was issued last week.

The odd case stretches back to 2012 when Maknun recorded a conversation in which the principal of the school where she worked on the island of Lombok revealed graphic sexual details about an affair he was having with another colleague.

© AFP | Baiq Nuril Maknun exposed her philandering boss but was handed a six-month jail term for violating Indonesia’s controversial electronic information law

Co-workers of the school administrator — who herself had rebuffed the principal’s repeated advances — later convinced Maknun to release the recording in a bid to expose the man’s history of lecherous behaviour, according to her lawyer Joko Jumadi.

“The principal shared very graphic details about his affair with the school’s treasurer in the recording,” he told AFP.

In response, the principal fired Maknun and filed a complaint with authorities.

Maknun was initially cleared of the charges by a local court in Lombok, next to holiday hotspot Bali.

But, last Friday, Indonesia’s top court reversed that decision, finding her guilty of violating the electronic information law and sentencing her to six months’ jail along with a 500 million rupiah ($34,000) fine.

The 36-year-old Maknun told local reporters that the ruling was unfair.

“I’m just a victim — what did I do wrong?” she said at the time.

The court did not give reasons for its verdict.

The prosecutor’s office in Lombok told AFP on Friday it is reviewing the case before Maknun begins her sentence.

Indonesia’s corruption-riddled justice system has long been criticised for the quality of its rulings, while the electronic information law itself has come under fire for being too vague and open to misuse.


Philippines: Human rights group condemns alleged rape of rookie policewoman by senior cop

November 15, 2018

The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday denounced the alleged rape of a rookie policewoman by a senior police officer.

A rookie policewoman Beatriz (not her real name) was allegedly raped while on “sentinel duty” by Police Officer 3 Jernie Ramizez, an assistant instructor of the Maritime Trooper Course at the Joint Law Enforcement Training Center in Palawan.

A rookie policewoman Beatriz (not her real name) was allegedly raped while on “sentinel duty” by Police Office 3 Jernie Ramizez, an assistant instructor of the Maritime Trooper Course at the Joint Law Enforcement Training Center in Palawan. Photo: The STAR/Michael Varcas

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said it is deplorable that the wrongdoing was committed by a police officer toward his subordinate, noting it is the mandate of policemen to serve as role models and protectors in safeguarding human rights, including women’s rights.

“This not only violates the code of conduct of government workers but also greatly impacts the credibility and ability of the police to protect women if such violation happens from within the PNP hierarchy. Any violence against women transpiring within the police ranks must be strongly rebuked,” De Guia said.

The commission urged the PNP to bring justice to the victims.

“We also hope that the PNP will establish more practices and policies that will create an organizational culture and a workplace that is conducive for women and women-clients,” De Guia said.

Earlier this month, an officer of the Manila Police District allegedly raped the teen daughter of drug suspects in exchange for her parent’s liberty.

The incident prompted the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific to claim that the “palit-puri” (sex-for-freedom) scheme had worsened under the Duterte administration.

According to the Center for Women’s Resources, it has recorder 33 cases of violence against women committed by police officers since July 2016. — Gaea Katreena Cabico


Vietnam’s top telecom bosses face arrest over loss-making TV deal — China style crackdown on corruption in Vietnam

November 14, 2018


Vietnam on Wednesday issued arrest warrants and placed two top telecom bosses under investigation for suspected involvement in a loss-making private TV deal, authorities said, as a crackdown on graft gathers pace.

A conservative leadership that came to power in the one-party state in 2016 has carried out the sweeping campaign, going after high-rolling executives once thought to be untouchable in Vietnam, one of Asia’s most corrupt countries.

State-run Mobifone telecommunications has come under particular scrutiny after an attempted purchase in 2015 of loss-making private TV firm Audio Visual Global (AVG).

© POOL/AFP/File | A crackdown on corruption in Vietnam has gone after executiveds once thought to be untouchable

The former director general of Mobifone Cao Duy Hai and deputy director general Pham Thi Phuong Anh were accused of “violating regulations on managing and using public investment capital”, said a statement on the website of the powerful Ministry of Public Security.

In August Hai was sacked from Mobifone as the communist party blamed him for his role in the proposed deal with AVG — which the government argued would have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars if the sale had gone through.

Deputy director general Anh was accused of “lack of responsibility in negotiating and directing negotiation with AVG’s shareholders”, media reports said.

It is not clear if the two are in custody.

Mobifone said it spent around $385 million for the purchase of 95 percent of AVG shares in 2015 despite the company recording losses of about $70 million.

The government stepped in to halt the final deal and state media reported in May that AVG shareholders had refunded all the money.

The two executives were only the latest to get ensnared in the Mobifone clampdown.

Information and Communications Minister Truong Minh Tuan was dismissed from his position in October over the deal.

In a similar move, Mobifone’s former head Le Nam Tra and a senior communications ministry official have been put under detention in connection with the case.

Observers say the unprecedented corruption crackdown by Vietnam’s communist government shows few signs of slowing, and that the onslaught of cases is more tied to rivalries within the communist party than illegality.

Vietnam is ranked 107 out of 180 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, among the lowest in the region.

Ethiopia arrests ex-head of army firm as crackdown targets security services

November 13, 2018

Ethiopia arrested the former head of the military-run industrial conglomerate METEC on Tuesday, state media reported, a day after authorities announced investigations targeting senior members of the powerful security forces.

Kinfe Dagnew, a Brigadier General in Ethiopia’s army, was detained near the northwest town of Humera, close to the border with Sudan and Eritrea, state-run broadcaster EBC said. Footage showed him surrounded by soldiers.

Image result for Kinfe Dagnew, ethiopia, photos

Kinfe Dagnew

The arrest came after the attorney general announced a series of inquiries and detentions that one Western envoy described on Tuesday as a “full frontal assault on the establishment”. The diplomat asked not to be named.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised to rein in security services after he became prime minister in April – part of a series of radical reforms that have upended decades-old policies and hierarchies.

He also promised to let private investors get stakes in the huge conglomerates run by the army and other state bodies that have dominated the economy since the ruling EPRDF coalition came to power in 1991.

On Monday, attorney general Berhanu Tsegaye said investigations had uncovered corruption at METEC, which manufactures military equipment and is also involved in many other sectors from agriculture to construction. Reuters has not been able to contact METEC for comment – senior public relations officials were among those arrested.

The attorney general said several METEC officials had been detained – alongside intelligence officers, police and other military officials targeted by separate investigations into abuse of prisoners.

He also accused senior members of the security services of ordering an attack on the prime minister in June.

Dozens of METEC employees and security officials appeared in court later on Monday. A judge denied the suspects bail and gave police 14 days further to investigate. None were charged.

A list of the arrest warrants released by the attorney general’s office named 27 METEC current and former executives including the head of military equipment production and the head of corporate logistics and supply. Six of those on the list are current and former deputy directors at METEC. Army officers hold senior positions in the company.

One of those arrested was “caught … while trying to destroy evidence”, the document read.

Abiy – Ethiopia’s first leader from its largest ethnic group, the Oromos – was chosen by the EPRDF after three years of street protests and strikes piled pressure on the coalition to reform.

Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by Maggie Fick and George Obulutsa; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Andrew Heavens



Ethiopia arrests military and intelligence officers for failed attack on PM, corruption, torture

November 13, 2018

Ethiopia’s attorney general accused members of the security service of carrying out a grenade attack on a rally attended by the prime minister, as he announced details of a string of investigations that struck at the heart of the establishment.

Members of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) were involved in the blast that killed two people in June, soon after newly-elected reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed left the stage, Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told reporters on Monday.

While other officials implicated in the plot have fled the country, the former intelligence chief is now residing in northern Ethiopia and should turn himself in to authorities, he said.

Meanwhile, 63 senior military and intelligence officers accused of corruption and human-rights abuses has been arrested, Berhanu said.

The arrests are a rare move against the country’s powerful security apparatus.

They represent a further flexing of power by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is seeking to break with Ethiopia’s authoritarian past, analysts said.

Abiy Ahmed

Abiy Ahmed is described as an astute politician — Reuters photo

“Twenty-seven officials have been arrested for alleged corrupt practices, while 36 have been detained for alleged human rights abuses, with a manhunt underway for remaining suspects,” Berhanu said at a press conference.

Tsegaye said that “the crimes against humanity” were committed by high ranking officials and operatives of National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which operated dozens of secret prisons throughout Ethiopia.

“People were being detained without trail for long time in the prisons,” he alleged.

“Inhumane torture, bodily harm, forced disappearances, sexual attacks against men and women inmates were committed in those prisons,” he said.

“Detainees were subjected to various abuses including gang rapes, sodomy, prolonged exposure to extreme heat and cold, waterboarding and deprivation of sunlight,” he added.

According to him, the violations had been “institutionalized” and also victimized family members of the incarcerated citizens.

Berhanu did not name any of the suspects but said some had already been taken to court.

He said the suspected corruption occurred at the military-run Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC).

“METEC officials were involved in purchases of $2 billion (1.8 billion euros) worth of goods without any bidding process,” Berhanu said.

He said METEC officials made their family members as middlemen in their own bidding processes.

He pointed out that the company had been involved in the construction of Ethiopia’s immense, signature Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Abiy made an unusual public admission earlier this year that security officials had engaged in abuses and torture with impunity.

Abiy has pushed through a series of jolting reforms since coming to power in April, including a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea, a pledge to open up state-dominated sectors to private investors and promises to rein in the security services.

Yilikal Getnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials.

“These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too,” he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a truth and reconciliation process to investigate past misdoings. “The ruling party alone can’t bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.”

Under the previous government, Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, used to be accused of rights violations by human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, permitted exiled opposition groups to return home, dropped terror charges against prominent opposition politicians and permitted the media to operate more freely.

Despite the reforms, ethnic-based clashes are continuing in some parts of Ethiopia and pose the most serious threat to Abiy’s leadership of this East African nation of 100 million people.

Amnesty International welcomed the arrests.

“These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s East Africa Director. “Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials.”

Pakistan Struggles with Deficit Reduction Before IMF Bailout

November 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: With primary focus on containing fiscal deficit, Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday began policy discussions on economic and fiscal adjustments required to ensure a fresh fund programme worth around $6 billion.

A senior government official said a draft Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) had been prepared by the Ministry of Finance in consultation with other economic ministries that was now the centre of discussion with the IMF.

November 13, 2018
Finance Minister Asad Umar and IMF chief Christine Lagarde shake hands before their meeting on Thursday. — AFP/File
Finance Minister Asad Umar and IMF chief Christine Lagarde shake hands before their meeting on Thursday. — AFP/File

“The focus is on deficit reduction to a level acceptable to the IMF because economic stabilisation is going to be the ultimate objective” for which the two sides are reviewing revenue measures and expenditure controls, he said, adding the IMF also asked questions about the external payment plans.

Policy level talks on tentative $6bn bailout plan kick off

The fund is reported to have raised questions over more than Rs90bn revenue shortfall in the first four months of the current fiscal year and wondered how the projected fiscal deficit target of 5.1pc could be achieved when development programme had already been curtailed to a bare minimum.

They also asked questions about the revenue measures under consideration as to make up for the loss suffered so far and what was the policy plan going forward. The mission was told that FBR was issuing notices to high net worth individuals on the basis of available data of those living in posh areas, living luxury lives and air travels etc.

The IMF is also dissatisfied over the performance of the power sector whose losses and recoveries are reported to have gone down rather than improving since the last IMF programme was completed in Sept 2016, leading to build up of circular debt beyond Rs1.2 trillion and creating supply side constraints.

The authorities have reported increased gas and power tariff to reduce energy sector losses and planned campaign for recovery of outstanding bills and reduction in theft but the fund mission believed the challenge could not be overcome without deep rooted structural reforms.

Informed sources said the authorities briefed the fund mission about the subsidies envisaged in the 2018-19 budget and those committed by the PTI government since it came to power three months ago and explained that all fresh subsidies were targeted and based on its vision to support export sector and protect the marginal groups.

Finance Minister Asad Umar was tentatively scheduled to join the policy level discussions on Tuesday that would continue until the end of this week (until Thursday, December 15) in which the fund would separately meet the ministers and secretaries of the ministries of commerce, power, petroleum, privatisation, chairman FBR and the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.

The two sides would break the dialogue for the weekend to prepare their respective positions and view point on the bailout package. This would be followed by two-day crucial negotiations on finalising terms and conditions of the new programme, including size, tenure and disbursement mechanism on Nov 19 and 20.

He said the two sides had been engaged in data sharing since the IMF staff mission reached Islamabad last week and separately met all the relevant authorities.

On Monday, the IMF team led by mission chief Herald Finger had discussions with chairman FBR, governor SBP and senior officials of ministry of finance, commerce and discussed reform agenda.

The officials declined to officially discuss the progress on IMF talks with the media saying a full disclosure of the agreed agenda would be made on the conclusion of talks early next week.

They said the two sides were in the initial stage of discussions on macroeconomic framework adjustment as articulated repeatedly by the finance minister over the past few weeks. “What changes the IMF wants in this framework would become tentatively clear by end of this week”, he said.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

Philippine Police Accused of “Sex For Freedom” — Sen. Leila de Lima calls for a Senate inquiry

November 12, 2018

“Authorities must remain vigilant in safeguarding the vulnerable, particularly the women and children.” Coalition Against Trafficking in Women speaks out.

Sen. Leila de Lima has called for a Senate inquiry into the alleged “palit-puri” (sex-for-freedom) scheme in the Philippine National Police, in which cops allegedly demand sex in exchange for a suspect’s freedom.

In filing Senate Resolution 930, De Lima asked the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality to investigate the alleged sexual advances by police officers against women children relatives of detainees.

“The alarming reports of women and children having suffered in the hands of state actors must be resolved speedily, for demanding sexual favors in exchange for one’s freedom is a gross manifestation of abuse that must not be tolerated by the government,” she said.

Image result for Eduardo Valencia, police, philippines, photos

De Lima stressed the need for increased attention about the involvement of law enforcers in abuses against women.

“In seeming culture of impunity that breeds and emboldens criminals and misfits, the authorities must remain vigilant in safeguarding the vulnerable, particularly the women and children, from those who trample upon their rights,” she said.

The filing of the resolution came weeks after the arrest of rookie police officer Eduardo Valencia over accusations of raping a 15-year-old girl whose parents were rounded up by cops in a drug sting.

The parents of the victim sought the authorities after they learned that the cop allegedly coerced their daughter for sex in exchange for freedom. A rape case has been filed against Valencia.

PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said it was “unfair” for a rights group to say that the “palit-puri” scheme is rampant among cops. He was reacting on a report quoting Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific, which said that the scheme “worsened” in the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

He added that the allegation against Valencia “does not reflect… the general behavior and discipline that we have in PNP.”

The Center for Women’s Resources has documented 33 cases of violence against women committed by policemen since Duterte took office. Fifty-five cops were involved in these cases, which range from catcalling, acts of lasciviousness to rape.

The data bank and research institution for women has only documented one case of dismissal from service due to involvement in abuse against women, while the rest have either been dropped or not pursued.



China’s Bribery, Corruption Problem Threatens Rule of Law

November 12, 2018

Image result for china currency, photos

  • Suspects implicated by Chen Xu are now under investigation
  • Former prosecutor was given a life sentence for taking bribes worth more than US$10 million

South China Morning Post

Corruption by the Chinese leadership

Image result for Chen Xu, prosecutor, photos

The former chief prosecutor of Shanghai who is serving a life sentence for bribery has implicated about 100 officials linked to his conviction, a source familiar with the case has told the South China Morning Post.

Once dubbed the “law manipulator of Shanghai”, Chen Xu was sentenced on October 25 after a court in Nanning, the capital of south China’s Guangxi region, found him guilty of taking money and property worth more than 74.2 million yuan (US$10.7 million) personally or through family members between 2000 and 2015.

His downfall came amid a crackdown on corruption by the Chinese leadership and many of those implicated by him are now under investigation.

Chen’s conviction followed a sudden fall from grace last year. He was detained on March 1, the same day he made his last public appearance at a Shanghai law society event, and placed under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s main anti-corruption watchdog.

A Shanghai native, Chen spent his entire 38-year career working in the city. He started out as a court clerk before rising to become the top prosecutor in China’s financial centre in 2008.

People close to him described him as “very well-connected” and “able to get things done”, but others referred to him as a “wheeler-dealer”.

But his rise attracted a string of allegations of wrongdoing, including from the Hong Kong businessman Ren Junliang, who complained that the prosecutor had been abusing his power for economic benefit.

Chen Xu rose to become Shanghai’s top prosecutor in 2008. Photo: Handout

Ren, the owner of Shanghai Yutong Properties Ltd, was involved in a long-running property dispute in which key witnesses died in suspicious circumstances.

The South China Morning Post has learned that Ren’s allegations about Chen were so explosive that he made his brother hide documents related to the case on his person and take them directly to Wang Qishan, the country’s anti-corruption chief at the time.

Ren had developed the Shanghai Wanbang Centre on a site in the city’s Pudong district in 1996.

But in 2005 the property was impounded by a court because Ren’s vice-chairman, Shen Chenqin, had forged documents to borrow money for his own businesses and had then failed to repay the money.

China News Weekly, a magazine run by the official China News Service, reported last year that Shanghai police’s commercial affairs department had asked a court in Hongkou district to return the building to Ren’s control.

But Chen, who at the time was the deputy chief prosecutor in Shanghai’s high court, intervened to force through the auction of the building to a company thought to have been controlled by members of his family for 200 million yuan – about a quarter of its true value.

As for Shen, although he could have been jailed for life for fraud, he escaped with a sentence of just two years.

When Ren complained about the sale, the Anti-Corruption Bureau under the Supreme People’s Procuratorate instructed the Shanghai procuratorate to review the case in 2006.

But according to China News Weekly, two judges who had been questioned over the case died suddenly and in mysterious circumstances.

Fan Junpei, the judge of the Hongkou district court, and Pan Yuming, the judge at Shanghai No 1 intermediate court, were reported to have been invited to dinner by a mysterious person and both were found dead the next morning.

A month later Wang Xinming, the general manager of the company that handled the auction, and his wife Zhang Huizhi, were also found dead at their villa in the city.

It is not clear whether the suspicious deaths have ever been fully investigated and few details of the case have ever been made public.

The deaths also meant that the Anti-Corruption Bureau had to abandon its investigation and it was more than a decade before Chen was finally brought to justice.

Chen is the latest in a string of “tigers” – senior officials who have been brought down on corruption charges – after President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013 and ordered a wide-ranging crackdown.

Observers noticed that Chen’s conviction was solely on a charge of bribery and the court had not ruled on accusations that he had exploited his position to help individuals and companies to win contracts or secure favourable court rulings.

The source who has direct knowledge of the case said it was extremely difficult for the anti-corruption watchdog to target those who had a deep understanding of China’s law and judicial system because they “cover their trails way better” than others.

See also:

Former top procurator stands trial for bribery

Trump claims ‘big corruption scandal’ unfolding in Florida’s Broward County

November 9, 2018

President Trump waded into the controversy surrounding election results in Florida Thursday night, backing a state investigation Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a candidate for Senate, announced against Broward County’s election supervisor earlier in the evening.

“Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!” Trump wrote on Twitter late Thursday.

More: Election results: Recount coming in Florida Senate race between Bill Nelson, Rick Scott

More: Florida recount for Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum? Here’s how it works

That’s within the 0.25 point margin that dictates a hand recount of ballots that showed either no vote or more than one vote cast in the Senate race.

More: Rick Scott seeks state probe, sues for access to ballots as recounts loom

More: Andrew Gillum’s camp watching final voting totals with eye toward possible recount

Nearly two days after the polls closed, one county was still having major problems with counting ballots: Broward, a Democratic stronghold that played a pivotal role in the 2000 presidential election Florida recount.

Just 17,429 out of 8,165,741 votes cast in the Senate race separate Scott, who is leading, from Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent. In the governor’s race, Ron DeSantis, a former GOP congressman, leads Andrew Gillum, the Democrat, by 38,600 votes out of 8,200,905 votes cast.

Of the Broward County ballots counted, more than 24,700 voted for a gubernatorial candidate but no candidate for U.S. Senate — a fact seized on by Democrats as an indication that large numbers of votes for Nelson could be missing.

Scott and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are suing Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes for not releasing ballot-counting information.