Posts Tagged ‘graft’

China’s law-enforcers are going global — “We will hunt you down” — “For a fugitive from China, he is like a flying kite: even though he is abroad, the string is in China.”

March 31, 2018

But their methods are far from orthodox

The Economist

LAST year’s big blockbuster in China, “Wolf Warrior 2”, assured citizens not to fear running into trouble abroad: “Remember, the strength of China always has your back!” That is doubtless a comfort to patriots. But for those who seek to escape the government’s clutches, its growing willingness to project its authority beyond its borders is a source of alarm. In pursuit of fugitives, the Chinese authorities are increasingly willing to challenge the sovereignty of foreign governments and to seek the help of international agencies, even on spurious grounds.

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Fugitives from China used to be mainly dissidents. The government was happy to have them out of the country, assuming they could do less harm there. But since Xi Jinping came to office in 2012 and launched a sweeping campaign against corruption, another type of fugitive has increased in number: those wanted for graft. Though they do not preach democracy, they pose a greater threat to the regime. Most are officials or well-connected business folk, insiders familiar with the workings of government. And in the internet age it is far easier for exiles to maintain ties with people back home.

So China has changed its stance, and started to hunt fugitives down. It has managed to repatriate nearly 4,000 suspects from some 90 countries. It has also recovered about 9.6bn yuan ($1.5bn). Still, nearly 1,000 remain on the run, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China’s anti-graft watchdog.

The problem is that only 36 countries have ratified extradition treaties with China. France, Italy, Spain and South Korea are among them, but few other rich democracies. It is easy for Chinese suspects seeking refuge abroad to argue that they will not get a fair trial if returned home, since the government does not believe that courts should be independent. Last year the country’s top judge denounced the very idea as a “false Western ideal”. What is more, China has thousands of political prisoners. Torture is endemic.

The hard way

These failings have forced the Chinese authorities to resort to less-straightforward methods to bring suspects home. Typically, they send agents, often travelling unofficially, to press exiles to return. The tactics involved are similar to ones used at home to induce people to do the Communist Party’s bidding. Many are subjected to persistent surveillance, intimidation and even violence. Occasionally, Chinese agents attempt to kidnap suspects abroad and bring them home by force.

If runaways have family in China, those left behind are often subject to threats and harassment. In an interview in 2014 a member of Shanghai’s Public Security Bureau said that “a fugitive is like a flying kite: even though he is abroad, the string is in China.” Some exiles are told that their adult relatives will lose their jobs and that their children will be kicked out of school if they do not return. Police pressed Guo Xin, one of China’s 100 most-wanted officials, to return from America by preventing her elderly mother and her sister from leaving China, and barring a brother living in Canada from entering the country, among other restrictions. In the end she gave in and went home.

In countries with closer ties to China, agents have occasionally dispensed with such pressures in favour of more resolute action. Wang Dan, a leader of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, says that he and other exiled dissidents have long avoided Cambodia, Thailand and other countries seen as friendly to China for fear of being detained by Chinese agents. The case of Gui Minhai, a Swede who had renounced his Chinese citizenship, suggests they are right to do so. He was kidnapped by Chinese officials in Thailand in 2015 and taken to the mainland. In a seemingly forced confession broadcast on Chinese television, he admitted to a driving offence over a decade earlier.

Many countries, naturally, are upset about covert actions by Chinese operatives on their soil. In 2015 the New York Times reported that the American authorities had complained to the Chinese government about agents working illegally in America, often entering the country on tourist or trade visas. Other foreign diplomats note that officials from China’s Ministry of Public Security sometimes travel as delegates of trade and tourism missions from individual provinces. Chinese police were caught in Australia in 2015 pursuing a tour-bus driver accused of bribery. Though France has an extradition treaty with China, French officials found out about the repatriation of Zheng Ning, a businessman seeking refuge there, only when China’s own anti-graft website put a notice up saying police had successfully “persuaded” him to return to China. The French authorities had not received a request for his extradition.

This pattern is especially disturbing since the anti-corruption campaign is sometimes used as an excuse to pursue people for actions that would not be considered crimes in the countries where they have taken refuge—including political dissent. It beggars belief that the Chinese authorities would have worked so hard to capture Mr Gui, the kidnapped Swede, just to answer for a driving offence. His real crime was to have published salacious books in Hong Kong about the Chinese leadership. By the same token, last year the Chinese embassy in Bangkok reportedly asked the Thai government to detain the wife of a civil-rights lawyer after she escaped over China’s south-western border. Her only known offence was to have married a man who had the cheek to defend Chinese citizens against the state.

Increasingly, China is trying to use Interpol, an international body for police co-operation, to give its cross-border forays a veneer of respectability. Interpol has no power to order countries to arrest individuals, but many democratic states frequently respond to the agency’s “red notices” requesting a detention as a precursor to extradition. In 2015 China’s government asked Interpol to issue red notices for 100 of its most-wanted officials. To date, the government says half of those on the list have returned, one way or another. Small wonder that Xi Jinping, China’s president, has said he wants the agency to “play an even more important role in global security governance”.

Image result for Guo Wengui,, photos

Guo Wengui

Since 2016 Interpol has been headed by Meng Hongwei, who is also China’s vice-minister of public security. That year alone China issued 612 red notices. The worry is that China may have misrepresented its reasons for seeking arrests abroad. Miles Kwok, also known as Guo Wengui, a businessman who fled China in 2015, stands accused of bribery. But it was only when he was poised to give an interview last summer in which he had threatened to expose the misdeeds of the ruling elite that China asked Interpol to help secure his arrest. When America refused to send him home, the Chinese government requested a second red notice, accusing Mr Kwok of rape.

China’s covert extraterritorial activity suggests that foreign governments are right to be cautious about deepening ties in law-enforcement. If nothing else, the fate of those who do return provides grounds for concern. Although few would shed any tears for corrupt tycoons or crooked officials, the chances of any of them getting a genuine opportunity to prove their innocence are all but zero. Nearly half of the repatriated officials who were subject to red notices have been sentenced to life in prison; the other half have not yet been tried. Chinese courts have an astonishingly high conviction rate. In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, it was 99.9%.

This article appeared in the China section of the print edition under the headline “Forbidding kingdom”

China’s president orders arrest of CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming, ending entrepreneur’s stellar rise as one of China’s oil tsars — Funded by China’s state banks

March 1, 2018


© AFP/File | CEFC’s rapid expansion in China’s state-dominated oil universe and emergence as a major player in world oil markets has raised questions about its backing inside China

BEIJING (AFP) – Shares of two firms linked to Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy tumbled Thursday after a report that its high-flying chairman was under investigation.Ye Jianming — dubbed China’s “newest oil baron” by Forbes magazine in 2016 — quickly built CEFC China Energy into a global energy powerhouse, expanding into Eastern Europe, Africa and the Gulf States, and agreeing to buy 14 percent of Russian oil giant Rosneft last year.

Image result for Ye Jianming, photos

Ye Jianming

But Chinese financial news magazine Caixin, citing anonymous sources, reported that Ye has been put under investigation over links to a former Communist Party chief accused of graft.

The CEFC China Energy conglomerate itself is not publicly listed. But following the report, shares in Shenzhen-listed subsidiary CEFC Anhui International Holding fell by as much as 9.85 percent before closing down 4.45 percent, while affiliate CEFC Hong Kong Financial Investment Company dropped by almost 23 percent on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng.

Both companies distanced themselves from Ye in separate stock filings.

“Ye Jianming does not hold any position at (CEFC Anhui), there is no direct relationship with our company, and he is not the company’s actual controller,” the Shenzhen-listed unit of CEFC China Energy said in a stock filing prompted by the Caixin report.

The Hong Kong company said its directors “noted there are press reports today about Mr. Ye Jianming” but stressed that he did not hold any directorship and is not involved in the management of the its operations.

The Caixin report did not specify the nature of the investigation into the oil tycoon though it noted “Chinese authorities have requested Ye’s assistance in a graft investigation” of a former provincial Communist Party chief who had been detained on corruption charges.

The party chief had helped CEFC raise money, Caixin reported.

Beijing has sought to rein in conglomerates whose splashy overseas investments have taken billions out of the country. Last week, authorities took control of Anbang Insurance Group and said its chairman faced prosecution for “economic crimes”.

CEFC’s rapid expansion in China’s state-dominated oil universe and emergence as a major player in world oil markets has raised questions about its backing inside China.

The company has played up its role in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative.

CEFC China Energy did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

Last year, US authorities took the company to task over its business dealings in Africa.

US authorities arrested Hong Kong’s former home affairs secretary and the ex-foreign minister of Senegal for leading a multimillion dollar bribery scheme in Africa on behalf of a top Chinese energy company.

CEFC was not identified in the announcement or the complaint filed in New York federal district court, but details in the complaint pointed to CEFC China Energy.


China’s president orders arrest of CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming, ending entrepreneur’s stellar rise

From obscurity, Ye Jianming built a business empire with 263 billion yuan in revenue by 2015, before he turned 40, and began on a shopping spree for energy assets around the world, mostly funded by China’s state banks.

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 2:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 3:23pm

The Fujian entrepreneur who took less than five years to rise from obscurity to become head of China’s fourth-largest oil conglomerate, has been detained for questioning on the mainland at the direct order of the Chinese president Xi Jinping, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

Ye, ranked two spots ahead of French president Emmanuel Macron in Fortune magazine’s ‘40 Under 40’ list of the world’s most influential young people in 2016, was detained just before the start of the Lunar New Year celebrations on February 16, a source told the South China Morning Post, declining to provide his name for disclosing a matter under investigation. Caixin magazine earlier reported that Ye had been taken away for questioning, but the story appeared to have been removed from its website.

 CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming. Photo: SCMP/Handout

Shares of three companies linked to Ye’s flagship company CEFC China Energy plunged on stock exchanges in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Singapore, wiping out a combined 4 billion yuan (US$630 million) in market value within an hour of trading.

A CEFC spokesman in Shanghai responded by text that the company “has nothing to announce for the time being,” declining to elaborate.

The detention of the low-profile entrepreneur follows the November 21 arrest in New York of Hong Kong’s former Home Secretary Patrick Ho, on charges of routing bribes for African government officials through US financial institutions.

Ho, 68, was leading a life of what he called “civil diplomacy” since his retirement from Hong Kong’s public service, heading a think tank called the China Energy Fund Committee, fully funded by CEFC. The think tank has special consultative status with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council, with access to influential decision makers in UN bodies.

Ho and Senegal’s former foreign minister Cheikh Gadio operated “an international corruption scheme that spanned the globe” since 2014, according to a November 20, 2017 statement by the US Department of Justice. The two men allegedly offered a US$2 million bribe to Chad’s president Idriss Deby in exchange for “valuable oil rights,” and another US$500,000 to Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa.

 Sam Kutesa (left), President of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, met with Ye Jianming (right), Chairman of CEFC China Energy, after appointing the Chinese entrepreneur as Special Honorary Advisor to UN General Assembly. Photo: CRIENGLISH

Ye’s detention in China marks a remarkably speedy downfall for an entrepreneur who was still making waves three months earlier. CEFC made its third media and communications asset in the Czech Republic in November, leading a consortium that would pay 500 million (US$609 million) to buy the majority of Czech broadcaster CME from Time Warner.

Two months earlier in September 2017, CEFC paid US$9.1 billion for 14.2 per cent of Russia’s state-backed oil company Rosneft, becoming one of the largest shareholders in the world’s largest listed oil firm by production.

Shanghai-based CEFC, established by Ye in 2002 when he was in his mid twenties, had spent at least US$1.7 billion since 2015 buying energy-related businesses in Romania, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and even Chad, not including another US$1.2 billion buying financial services in the US and in the Czech Republic.

 Czech Republic’s President Milos Zeman, center right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping review a guard of honour during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 27, 2014. The Czech president would make his second trip to China a year later, becoming the sole European Union head of state to attend China’s military parade to commemorate the end of the Second World War. Photo: AP Photo/Andy Wong

Due partly to Ye’s investments in the country, the Czech Republic’s president Milos Zeman was the sole European Union leader to join a 2015 military parade in Beijing to commemorate the end of the Second World War.

Ye, whose aggressive shopping spree had been attributed to the mistaken association of him with the family of the late Ye Jianying – China’s head of state from 1978 to 1983 – is actually the son of an ordinary worker’s family in Fujian province, according to people who know both families.

After working briefly as an enforcement officer with the forestry department, he earned his first pot of gold helping to extricate a Hong Kong businessman from financial strife and complete a real estate transaction, according to Depth-paper, a Chinese news portal.

From there, he bought at auction the oil businesses that the government had confiscated from Xiamen’s smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing, using loans from state banks, as well as investors in Hong Kong and Fujian to finance his purchase, he told Fortune in an interview.

By 2015, Ye had built up a business empire with 263 billion yuan in revenue, 60 per cent of which was from the trading of oil and gas. CEFC then embarked on an overseas shopping spree, starting with a US$680 million purchase of a majority stake in the overseas unit of Kazakhstan’s state oil company. Subsequent acquisitions extended across eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, mostly in oil and gas. He made waves in Hong Kong when CEFC paid HK$1.4 billion (US$177 million) for three floors of office space at the Wan Chai Convention Plaza, with views of Victoria Harbour.

His biggest acquisition had been his investment in Rosneft, chaired by Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The deal was financed primarily by state banks in Russia and China.

China Development Bank, a state lender established with the charter to provide funding for projects aligned with Chinese state policies, has been CEFC’s biggest financier since the company’s establishment.

The Beijing-based lender extended 32.3 billion yuan of loans, or 87.5 per cent of total bank borrowings, according to the September 2016 bond prospectus of its principal subsidiary CEFC Shanghai International Group.

Netanyahu Peril Grows, as Trusted Aide Agrees to Testify

February 21, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Munich this month. The Israeli police have arrested several of his friends and confidants, as well as top executives of the telecommunications company Bezeq, in a widening inquiry into whether he traded favors for favorable news coverage. Credit Thomas Kienzle/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to provide testimony on behalf of the state about alleged corrupt dealings between the government and the country’s biggest telecoms group, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.

Image result for Shlomo Filber, photos

Shlomo Filber 

Shlomo Filber, who was arrested this week along with top executives at Bezeq Telecom (BEZQ.TA), had been a personal appointment of Netanyahu’s to head the Communications Ministry.

Police now suspect Bezeq received regulatory benefits, and in return, Netanyahu received favorable media coverage on a popular news website that is also controlled by Bezeq’s former chairman.

The Bezeq executives have denied the allegations.

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during an inauguration ceremony for a fortified emergency room at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, southern Israel, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during an inauguration ceremony for a fortified emergency room at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, southern Israel, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israel’s Ynet news website reported that Filber has now agreed to testify for the state in the case, a development that could further complicate things for Netanyahu as he battles mounting corruption allegations.

Israeli authorities were not immediately available to confirm that a deal with Filber had been reached.


On Tuesday, police alleged that Netanyahu’s former spokesman tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Netanyahu’s wife. Netanyahu himself is suspect in two other investigations.

The right-wing leader, in office for 12 years since 1996, has denied wrongdoing in any of the cases, calling them a political “witch hunt”.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Robert Birsel


See also:

Netanyahu Peril Grows, as Trusted Aide Agrees to Testify


Pursued by the Law, Netanyahu Sparks Revival of Right-wing Lunacy

February 20, 2018


A Likud MK’s demented analogy with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin nonetheless hits a raw nerve

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during an inauguration ceremony for a fortified emergency room at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, southern Israel, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during an inauguration ceremony for a fortified emergency room at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Feb 20, 2018\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

The immediate reaction to the analogy drawn by Likud Member of Knesset Miki Zohar between the troubles of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin is ridicule and scorn. Why stop with Rabin? What about Bar-Kochba? Jeanne D’Arc? Jesus Christ? The six million, perhaps? Then comes consternation. How low must we have sunk, if an elected official can’t differentiate between a prime minister who was murdered for his positions and another who is being investigated for his transgressions?

Nonetheless, Zohar put his finger on the right spot. His own words prove it. He is not a deviation from the norm or an exception that proves the rule. His sicko comparison between Netanyahu and Rabin – as well as the new reports about the efforts made by Netanyahu’s aide to appoint an attorney general who would exonerate the prime minister’s wife – are but symptoms of a general mental breakdown on the right. It’s a global phenomenon, of course, with deep-seated historical and sociological roots, which has accelerated with the presidency of Donald Trump, who disseminates inanities throughout the globe. In the local Israeli edition, however, the willingness of so many on the right to break the rules, buck the system, defy the state and blindly follow Netanyahu, one of Israel’s most charismatic politicians, cannot but evoke ominous associations from the past.

MK Miki Zohar (Likud)

MK Miki Zohar (Likud)Olivier Fitoussi

The situation was insane from the outset, even before the police began to investigate.  The well-documented compulsion of Netanyahu and his wife to live the good life at the expense of billionaires is a sickness in itself. Their obsession with what the media says about them has long gone beyond the rational. In any normal country, Netanyahu’s decision in late 2014 to topple his own government in order to protect Sheldon’s Adelson’s Yisrael Hayom newspaper, to which he has now fessed up, would be considered totally unhinged. Netanyahu’s amok to pervert Israeli media and to control it – along with his coalition’s astounding silence of the chickens that has greeted it – are all indications of a government that is going off the rails.

Netanyahu’s implication in criminal investigations is the trigger that has caused serious deterioration. Like Trump – his great friend, partner in probes and sometimes role model – Netanyahu has launched an irresponsible assault on the Israeli police. He depicts himself, outrageously, as the innocent victim of a dark conspiracy, whose agents are out to destroy him. Whether his paranoia is as genuinely acute as it seems or just a cynical manipulation, ever-growing parts of the Israeli right, from top to bottom, are getting sucked into the whirlwind of Netanyahu’s lurid fantasies. They are increasingly convinced that the state itself is his enemy, and thus, by extension, their own.

The factual similarities to the time of Rabin’s assassination are slim. Then, the future of Israel was at stake, here we’re dealing with expensive champagne and Cuban cigars. There, devout Jewish settlers served as Netanyahu’s storm troopers, now he has to make do, for the time being at least, with opportunists and sycophants who flow with his frenzy, along with die-hard Bibi fans who nonetheless have to be prodded to participate in the support rallies that the Likud organizes from time to time. On the other hand, then as now, the pivotal main actor is a talented orator like Netanyahu, acknowledged expert on incitement and genius grandmaster of demagoguery, who has already shown his lack of inhibitions in the pursuit of power, who continues to ignore warnings about the dangerous influence of his words, who fiddles with the public’s frustrations and preys on its fears and stirs up evil winds with no regard for who or what they could ignite.

The madness might not suffice to save Netanyahu himself, but it could very well erupt and engulf his successor. In the demented Bizarro world of right-wing politicians like Zohar, Netanyahu’s replacement could find himself pilloried as another Yigal Amir, the only person, so far, who truly murdered a prime minister.

Iranian FM Ridicules Netanyahu’s ‘Cartoonish Circus’ as Attempt to ‘Avoid Domestic Crisis’

February 18, 2018


More details soon…

.Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the Tehran Security Conference in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018.
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the Tehran Security Conference in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018.Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

MUNICH – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif on Sunday called remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he waved wreckage of an Iranian drone shot down over Israel, a “cartoonish circus.”

Zarif said some at the conference “resort to cartoons to justify strategic blunders or maybe avoid domestic crisis,” possibly hinting at Netanyahu’s legal trouble at home.

Netanyahu, who spoke earlier at the conference, said held up a piece of an Iranian drone Israel shot down last week, and asked Zarif, who was sitting in the crowd: “Do you recognize it? You should, it’s yours. Don’t test us.”

When asked about Netanyahu’s speech, and what should happen for Iran to recognize Israel, Zarif accused the prime minister of using “aggression as a policy.”

“The entire speech was trying to evade issue. What has happened is the so-called invincibility has crumbled. Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors.”

More details soon..

Netanyahu says government ‘stable’ after police recommend his indictment

February 14, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S.Africa police raid house of Zuma’s allies in graft probe

February 14, 2018


© AFP | Private security staff stand guard outside the Gupta family home, as police arrive to raid the house
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – South African police on Wednesday raided the Johannesburg house of the Gupta family, which is accused of playing a central role in alleged corruption under scandal-tainted President Jacob Zuma.Zuma has been ordered to resign by the ruling ANC party, and is expected to respond to the order later Wednesday.

“We have now left the compound. It is an operation that is ongoing related to issues of ‘state capture’,” police spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi told AFP referring to the alleged corruption of state institutions under Zuma’s reign.

Police cars from the elite Hawks investigative unit arrived at the Guptas’ lavish and heavily protected complex in the upmarket suburb of Saxonwold in the early morning.

The president, who could be ousted in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence if he clings to office, has “agreed in principle to resign”, the secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC), Ace Magashule, said Tuesday.

The power struggle over Zuma’s departure has put him at loggerheads with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, his expected successor, who is the new head of the party.

China’s Former Internet Tsar and Friend of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Accused of Corruption — Expelled from the Communist Party

February 13, 2018

Lu accused of a range of crimes from abusing power for personal gain to disloyalty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 7:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 7:52pm
 South China Morning Post

China’s top anti-corruption watchdog has accused the country’s former internet tsar Lu Wei of being “tyrannical” and “shameless”, unleashing a barrage of claims against him late on Tuesday afternoon as it formally announced his expulsion from the Communist Party and handover to prosecutors.

In an exceptionally long list of alleged wrongdoings, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Lu, who headed the Cyberspace Administration of China until 2016, was “arbitrary and tyrannical”, abused his power for personal gain and pretended to follow the rules.

 Lu Wei was the public face of China’s internet policies before his downfall. Photo: Xinhua

Other alleged misconduct and failings included using all means to build personal fame, making false and anonymous accusations against others, deceiving the top Communist leadership, extreme disloyalty, duplicity, trading power for sex, improper discussion of the party and a lack of self control.

Image result for Tim Cook and Lu Wei, photos

Lu Wei and Apple’s Tim Cook

Lu was put under investigation in November and awaits formal charges.

Lu is likely to face court, where he is certain to be found guilty by the party-controlled judicial system.

It was not possible to reach Lu or a representative for comment.

At the height of his influence, Lu, a colourful and often brash official by Chinese standards, was seen as emblematic of China’s increasingly pervasive internet controls.

He was the public face of China’s internet policies and sought to promote China’s internet strategies abroad. He made headlines in the United States in 2014 when he visited the Californian headquarters of Facebook and sat in founder Mark Zuckerberg’s seat.

Vietnam arrests former Vinashin executive in widened graft crackdown

January 26, 2018


Vietnam’s highest-profile graft trial wrapped up on Monday when Dinh La Thang, above, a former Politburo member and former chairman of PetroVietnam, was sentenced to 13 years in prison. (AP)

HANOI, Vietnam: Police in Vietnam arrested the former chairman of a scandal-hit major state-owned conglomerate for alleged abuse of power as communist authorities step up their crackdown on graft.

The Ministry of Public Security said Nguyen Ngoc Su, the former chairman of Vietnam Shipbuilding Industrial Group, or Vinashin, is suspected of using Vinashin’s money to deposit savings into the Ocean joint stock bank that allowed some company executives to appropriate $4.7 million in excessive interest.
Police are widening their investigation into the case, the ministry said in a statement Friday, a day after Su was taken into custody.
Abuse of power carries up to 15 years in prison.
Su was the former vice general director of state energy giant PetroVietnam before being appointed in 2010 to head Vinashin, which was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy over accumulated debts of $4.5 billion, or 4.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product at that time.
Vinashin’s former chairman Pham Thanh Binh was sentenced to 20 years in prison for violating government regulations in 2012, while eight other senior executives were given from three to 19 years in the same trial. The case had damaged the country’s credit rating.
Scores of officials and bankers have been put on trial recently for economic crimes as authorities stepped up their crackdown on corruption under the watch of Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who was re-elected to another five-year term in 2016.
Vietnam’s highest-profile graft trial wrapped up on Monday when Dinh La Thang, a former Politburo member and former chairman of PetroVietnam, was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Trinh Xuan Thanh, a former chairman of PetroVietnam’s construction arm PVC, who Germany says was kidnapped by Vietnamese agents in Berlin where he sought asylum, was given life imprisonment for embezzlement in the same trial that also includes 20 other defendants, most of them former oil executives.
Ocean Bank was taken over by the State Bank in 2015 at no cost after reported accumulated losses of $445 million.
The bank’s general director was sentenced to death for embezzlement while its chairman was sentenced to life imprisonment on the same charges at a trial last year that also included 49 others, most of them Ocean Bank executives.


New protests in Iraqi Kurdistan as residents seethe at authorities

December 23, 2017


A picture taken on December 20, 2017 shows security forces riding in a vehicle as they chase down demonstrators in a street in the city of Raniya, 130 kilometres north of Sulaymaniyah in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region, as protests against political corruption raged for a third day despite a clampdown by security forces after five people were killed. (AFP)

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq: Demonstrators irate at the authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan took to the streets for a fifth day Friday, demanding the release of more than 200 protesters detained over violent rallies that have roiled the region.

Furious locals have torched the offices of the autonomous region’s main political parties in a string of towns since Monday as ire boiled over at the calamitous fallout from an independence referendum.
September’s overwhelming vote in favor of breaking away drew stinging reprisals from the central government that have battered Iraqi Kurdistan’s already flagging economy and fired anger over official graft.
“Down with the government of the corrupt, no to corruption!” protesters in the town of Shamshamal, some 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of the region’s second city Sulaimaniyah, chanted.
Protesters gathered in the town of Rania to demand that the “killers have to be brought to justice” after five demonstrators were shot dead there by security forces on Tuesday.
In Sulaimaniyah itself, police shot in the air and fired tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters calling for the release of those detained over the rallies.
Some 200 people have been arrested in the city alone since the protests began, while dozens have been held in other towns, activists from the Goran political party said.
The eruption of anger at the political elite in Kurdistan has caused turmoil for the authorities, with Goran and the Kurdistan Islamic Group party withdrawing from the regional government.
In the wake of September’s independence referendum rejected by the central authorities, Baghdad seized back disputed oil-rich regions from the Kurds in a move that gutted their finances.
Veteran Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, who pressed ahead with the vote despite international opposition, announced he was standing down in October.
Prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, his nephew, has promised to hold postponed elections in the region in the coming months.