Posts Tagged ‘graft’

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

August 5, 2017

Reuters

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

August 2, 2017

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

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

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President Michel Temer  (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

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

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

Temer and his legal team deny any wrongdoing.

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

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

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

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

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

TEST CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

($1 = 3.1240 reais)

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

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Will Brazil’s President Michel Temer Survive Today’s Congressional Hearing Against Him?

August 2, 2017

By PETER PRENGAMAN

© AFP/File / by Damian WROCLAVSKY | Brazilian President Michel Temer could face a corruption trial — he should find out his fate on Wednesday

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — President Michel Temer appeared to have the upper-hand Wednesday going into a key vote by the lower chamber of Brazil’s Congress on whether to suspend him and put him on trial over an alleged bribery scheme to line his pockets.

Despite a 5 percent approval rating in opinion polls and myriad calls for him to resign the last few months, Temer has been able to maintain most of his governing coalition in the Chamber of Deputies, where he was the presiding officer for many years.

Opposition lawmakers are hoping at least some of his support will be eroded by members having to publicly back a toxic president on national television. Major broadcaster Globo plans to transmit Wednesday’s proceedings live and all 513 members of the house are up for election next year.

The opposition also believes that if it can’t muster the necessary votes to suspend Temer, it can at least stall a resolution by keeping enough members from entering the chamber so a quorum can’t be reached.

“Brazil and the world are watching the absurdity of the negotiations taking place in the middle of the night (at Temer’s residence), the videos, the recordings, the proof of so many crimes,” said Assis Carvalho, a lawmaker in the Workers’ Party, the leading opposition party. “It would be absurd not to authorize the continuity of this process.”

Still, the numbers appeared to be on Temer’s side. To suspend the president, two-thirds of the 513 members, or 342, would have to vote against him. The government said it had at least 50 more supporters than necessary for Temer to survive.

Speaker Rodrigo Maia, a Temer ally, told reporters late Tuesday that victory was assured.

“This will be resolved by Wednesday afternoon,” Maia said, adding it would be a relief for the country to be able to move on.

The months-long crisis is the latest fallout from a colossal corruption investigation that has led to the jailing of many of the country’s elite, including Marcelo Odebrecht, the former CEO of giant construction company Odebrecht, and Eduardo Cunho, the former lower house speaker who is serving a 15-year sentence.

Temer, who was vice president, came to power a little over a year ago when President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and later ousted for illegally managing the federal budget.

Rousseff, a member of the left-leaning Workers’ Party, accused Temer, from the ideologically barren Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, of being behind her ouster. She said Temer and others wanted her removed in part because she refused to stop the sprawling “Car Wash” corruption investigation. Temer denied that.

Since taking power, Temer’s administration has been rocked by one scandal after another while still managing to move unpopular legislation forward, such as a loosening of labor rules and proposals to trim pension benefits.

The ambitious economic overhaul agenda, supported by the business class in Latin America’s largest economy, has helped the 76-year-old Temer stay in office so far despite the uproar over corruption allegations against him.

A recording purportedly made in March emerged in which Temer apparently supported the continued payment of hush money to Cunha, the powerful former speaker believed to have dirt on many politicians.

As part of the probe, it came to light that Temer allegedly orchestrated a bribery scheme in which he would get payouts totaling millions of dollars for helping JBS, a giant meat-packing company, resolve a business issue. A former aide was arrested while carrying a suitcase with $150,000, much of which was allegedly destined for Temer.

Attorney General Rodrigo Janot opened an investigation into Temer for bribery, obstruction of justice and being part of a criminal organization. Janot ultimately filed a bribery charge against the president, though at least one of the other charges is expected by the end of August, which would prompt another suspension vote in the Chamber of Deputies.

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Associated Press video journalists Renata Brito and Mario Lobao in Brasilia contributed to this report.

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Peter Prengaman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/peterprengaman

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

July 27, 2017

AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indonesia speaker named suspect in major graft case

July 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Investigators allege that Novanto (C) was among many politicians who received kickbacks from funds earmarked for a government project to issue new ID cards to the country’s 255 million inhabitants

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency has named the country’s speaker of parliament as a suspect in a major graft scandal which is estimated to have siphoned around $170 million out of government coffers.The Corruption Eradication Commission named house speaker Setya Novanto as a suspect late Monday in the giant graft case that has also implicated other senior politicians, including the justice minister, ex-interior minister and several governors.

The head of the commission, Agus Rahardjo, said Setya “allegedly abused his authority and position for personal gain or for the interest of a corporation”.

Investigators allege that Novanto was among many politicians who received kickbacks from funds earmarked for a government project to issue new ID cards to the country’s 255 million inhabitants.

Indonesia’s special anti-corruption court has said that more than one-third of the 5.9 trillion rupiah ($443 million) fund was embezzled by a network of politicians and businessmen in a scheme that allegedly ran from 2009 to 2015.

Novanto, who is also the chairman of the ruling coalition party Golkar, is the fourth suspect announced in the case, which could turn into a test of President Joko Widodo’s willingness to take a tough stance against corruption since many of those implicated are government officials.

Novanto was previously named a suspect in another corruption case which forced him to quit as speaker in 2015 when he was accused of extorting a stake from US mining giant Freeport-McMoran in exchange for extending the company’s right to operate in the archipelago.

He was cleared of the allegations and was reappointed as speaker in 2016.

Indonesia was ranked 90th out of 176 countries and territories in NGO Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index last year. A number one ranking represents the least corrupt.

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

July 11, 2017

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

July 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

 

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China Prosecutes Former Provincial Party Boss Over Graft

July 7, 2017

BEIJING — China has prosecuted the former chief of the ruling Communist Party in the northeastern province of Liaoning for offences including bribery and corruption, the country’s top prosecutor said on Friday.

Wang Min’s offences include bribery, corruption and negligence of duty, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said in a posting on its website.

President Xi Jinping has waged a sweeping campaign to root out deeply ingrained corruption, warning that the problem is so bad it could affect the ruling Communist Party’s grip on power.

(Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Brazil’s Temer boosts infrastructure spending as graft scandal deepens

July 4, 2017

Reuters

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By Ricardo Brito | BRASILIA

Brazil’s government has sharply increased spending in local infrastructure projects proposed by lawmakers, according to budget data reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday, as a graft scandal threatens to topple President Michel Temer.

Federal spending on infrastructure works and other projects this year sponsored by congressmen for their constituencies jumped to 5.2 billion reais ($1.57 billion) in June, up from 959 million reais the month before, the data showed.

The increase in spending comes at a time when Temer is facing charges with taking bribes in connection with a graft scheme involving the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA. Company executives said in plea-bargain testimony that the president took bribes for resolving tax matters, freeing up loans from state-run banks and other matters. Temer also allegedly arranged to receive a total of 38 million reais from JBS in the next nine months.

The president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Brazil is grappling with record-high budget deficits and the recent splurge illustrates Temer’s efforts to keep his fragmented coalition united despite growing calls for his resignation more than one year before general elections.

Temer’s office declined to comment on the increase in spending in the past month.

Under Brazilian law, it is now up to the lower house of Congress to decide if the president will be tried by the Supreme Court. Two-thirds of the lower house must vote to approve the charge for that to happen.

SPENDING FLURRY

Brazilian legislators can earmark the federal budget for local works, but the federal government must authorize that spending.

Brazil’s budget deficit before interest payments soared to 30.736 billion reais ($9.30 billion) in May, the largest-ever for the month. The gap in the 12 months through May reached 157.7 billion reais, above the official target for a deficit of 143.1 billion reais for this year.

Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot last week said he would likely level new charges of racketeering and obstruction of justice against Temer in the coming weeks. Each charge would require lawmakers to vote on whether or not to defend the deeply unpopular president from being tried.

Lawmakers within Temer’s coalition are confident they have the votes to block the two-third majority required to proceed with a trial. But they also acknowledge that if forced to vote on repeated charges against the president, support for the leader could unravel as lawmakers worry about their own reelection next year.

($1 = 3.3035 reais)

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito in Brasilia; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Brad Brooks and Diane Craft)

Brazil top prosecutor says “expect more proof against Temer”

July 2, 2017

Reuters

Sat Jul 1, 2017 | 3:15pm EDT

By Lisandra Paraguassu | SAO PAULO

Brazil’s top federal prosecutor said on Saturday that he took no pleasure in charging President Michel Temer with corruption, but given the clear indications of graft committed by the leader, there was no alternative.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot said at an investigative journalism conference that he was in no rush to level new charges of racketeering and obstruction of justice against Temer. He said he wanted to investigate each allegation as thoroughly as possible.

“As long is there is ammunition, I will keep firing,” Janot said. “Until September 17, the power lies with me and I will maintain my own rhythm.”

Janot said Saturday that there was still ample proof against Temer that will be revealed, which he did not include in the charging document against the president this week.

“If I included everything, the defense would say I had given all the evidence without giving them the right to defend themselves,” he said. “They would argue that the entire case should be annulled for that reason.”

Janot, whose four-year mandate ends in September, made his most extensive public remarks yet since earlier this week charging Temer with accepting bribes. It is the first time a sitting Brazilian leader has faced criminal charges.

Temer’s attorney, Antonio Mariz, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday. The president, whose government’s approval ratings are in the single digits, has repeatedly said he is innocent and resisted calls to resign.

Temer was charged in connection with a graft scheme involving the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA. Executives said in plea-bargain testimony the president took bribes for resolving tax matters, freeing up loans from state-run banks and other matters.

Janot’s charge alleges Temer arranged to eventually receive a total of 38 million reais ($11.49 million) from JBS in the next nine months.

Under Brazilian law, the lower house of Congress must now vote on whether to allow the Supreme Court to try the conservative leader, who replaced impeached leftist President Dilma Rousseff just over a year ago.

Lawmakers within Temer’s coalition are confident they have the votes to block the two-third majority required to proceed with a trial. But they also acknowledge that if forced to vote on repeated charges against the president, support for the leader could unravel as lawmakers worry about their own reelections next year.

(Refiled for dropped word in first paragraph.)

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Bernard Orr)