Posts Tagged ‘graft’

Chinese Watchdog Says 1.34 Million Officials Punished for Graft Since 2013

October 8, 2017

Oct. 8, 2017, at 1:41 a.m.

Reuters

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Chinese flags flutter at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China May 13, 2017. REUTERS-Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s anti-graft watchdog said roughly 1.34 million lower-ranking officials have been punished since 2013 under President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.

Xi, who is preparing for a major Communist Party leadership conference later this month, has made an anti-graft campaign targeting “tigers and flies”, both high and low ranking officials, a core policy priority during his five-year term.

China is preparing for the 19th Congress later this month, a twice-a-decade leadership event where Xi is expected to consolidate power and promote his policy positions.

Those punished for graft since 2013 include 648,000 village-level officials and most crimes were related to small scale corruption, said the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on Sunday.

While much of the country’s anti-graft drive has targeted lower ranking village and county officials, several high-ranking figures have been taken down.

In August the head of the anti-graft committee for China’s Ministry of Finance was himself put under investigation for suspected graft.

In September a senior military officer who sits on China’s powerful Central Military Commission, overseen by Xi, was detained and questioned over corruption-related offenses, Reuters reported.

The CCDI said 155,000 country-level party bureaux have set up corruption policing mechanisms as of August, representing 94.8 percent of total bureaus.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Vietnam ex-banker sentenced to death in fraud saga

September 29, 2017

AFP

© Vietnam News Agency/AFP | Ocean Bank founder Ha Van Tham (right) and co-accused Nguyen Xuan Son (left) face court in Hanoi

HANOI (AFP) – A Vietnamese former banking executive was sentenced to death Friday in a massive fraud case, while his co-accused got life in a blockbuster trial involving 51 bankers and businessmen.The sentences were delivered at the end of a month-long trial as Vietnam’s communist leadership wages an anti-corruption sweep, targeting ex-officials, bankers and executives accused of graft and mismanagement.

Former Ocean Bank general director Nguyen Xuan Son was sentenced to death for embezzlement, abuse of power and economic mismanagement.

Fellow kingpin and ex-Ocean Bank chairman Ha Van Tham, once one of Vietnam’s richest men, was jailed for life on the same charges, as well as violating lending rules.

Both men left the courthouse stone-faced after the verdict was handed down.

The trial targeting high-flying executives accused of losses worth millions of dollars has captivated Vietnam, which is ranked one of the most corrupt nations in Asia.

The charges cascaded down the ranks, targeting accountants, branch managers and scores of others in one of the country’s largest-ever banking trials.

The other sentences announced Friday ranged from 22 years in prison to 18-month suspended sentences and re-education outside of prison.

“Tham and Son’s behaviour is very serious, infringing on the management of state property and causing public grievances, which requires strict punishment,” said judge Truong Viet Toan.

Tham, Ocean Bank’s founder, was convicted of illegally approving a $23 million loan in 2012 and economic mismanagement causing major losses.

Also included in the indictment was PetroVietnam’s acquisition of a $35-million stake in the bank in 2009. It was later written off.

Son, director of the bank at the time and who later became chairman of the powerful state oil firm PetroVietnam, was sentenced to death for embezzlement, abuse of power and wrongdoing.

The scandal sparked the demise of Ocean Bank.

It had been part of Ocean Group, which takes in real estate and hotel subsidiaries and enjoyed a meteoric rise after its founding in 2007. It was valued at $500 million in 2013 under Tham’s stewardship.

Ocean Group is still active in real estate, hotels and services and was valued at $3.5 million in 2016, according to its website.

Vietnam’s banking scandal-hit banking sector has long been plagued by dodgy loans and favouritism, which observers say risks hampering the country’s solid economic growth.

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Philippines’ Duterte Welcomes Probe Into Allegations He Hid Wealth

September 27, 2017

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

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

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty)

Pakistani Court Indicts Finance Minister on Graft Charges — Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to be indicted on October 2

September 27, 2017

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court in a high-profile corruption case has indicted the country’s finance minister on graft charges after investigators found his assets did not match his reported income.

State media report that Ishaq Dar was present in the courtroom Wednesday when a judge read the charges against him. Dar denied the allegations.

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Ishaq Dar

Under Pakistan’s laws, Dar can continue to work as a minister until he is found guilty. However, opposition leaders have asked him to resign on moral grounds.

Dar has close familial ties to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified from holding office by the Supreme Court for concealing his financial assets in July.

Dar’s indictment comes a day after Sharif made his first appearance before a judge to face corruption cases.

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Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to be indicted on October 2

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has appeared before an anti-graft court for the first time to face corruption charges against his family.

Source: 

AAP – SBS Wires
22 HOURS AGO

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has appeared before an anti-corruption court, kicking off trial proceedings that he says are biased and which threaten to dent his party’s chances at the next general election due in mid-2018.

Sharif briefly appeared before a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court in Islamabad on three corruption charges. He did not enter a plea.

Local TV channels reported that Sharif is scheduled to be formally indicted on October 2, about two months after his disqualification by the Supreme Court for not declaring a small source of income that he denied receiving.

A Supreme Court panel has also alleged Sharif family’s wealth far exceeds their legal income.

“He has appeared before the court and by appearing he has proved to be a lion,” said Marvi Memom, an MP for Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)party.

Sharif, who returned from London on Monday after about a month in Britain, told the court his wife was being treated for cancer in London and needs his care.

Sharif has portrayed the corruption claims against him as politically motivated, while his allies, including daughter and heir-apparent Maryam, have hinted Pakistan’s powerful military had a hand in his toppling. The military denies any such action.

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Imran Khan

“It’s a good thing that finally NAB and such institutions are holding the rich and powerful to (account),” said Shafqat Mahmood, a senior members of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

PTI, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan who doggedly pushed the Supreme Court into launching a corruption probe into Sharif, has called for an early election but it is unlikely the government will agree to that.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/09/26/ex-pakistan-pm-nawaz-sharif-be-indicted-october-2

Four basketball coaches, Adidas executive charged in college payoff scandal

September 26, 2017

AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catalan Mayors Exercise Right to Remain Silent in Referendum Questioning

September 19, 2017

BARCELONA — The first of hundreds of Catalan mayors summoned to answer questions on why they have backed a banned Oct. 1 referendum on independence from Spain appeared before the state prosecutor on Tuesday amid cheers and chants from supporters.

The first three mayors to declare exercised their right to remain silent, the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) said.

Years of separatist feeling in the industrial northeastern region will come to a head in less than two weeks as the fiercely pro-independence regional government calls a referendum on splitting from Spain.

Madrid has declared the referendum illegal and the Constitutional Court has suspended the vote that was approved by the regional government earlier this month.

So far, 745 of 948 municipal leaders have said they will provide venues for the referendum.

“Voting is not a crime,” said Marc Solsona, mayor of the town of Mollerussa, one of nearly 750 mayors facing charges of civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds, as he left the state prosecutor’s office in Barcelona.

“I’m just the mayor and I have to serve my people. I am committed to the people being able to vote on Oct. 1 in accordance with the law passed by the Catalan parliament and what happens to me is not important,” he said.

Solsona smiled, kissed and gripped hands with dozens of clapping supporters gathered outside the state prosecutor’s office as he entered to chants of ‘You are not alone’

“We consider ourselves privileged to have a mayor who represents the townspeople above any other interests – political or financial,” said 63-year-old pensioner Angel Tena, who had traveled to Barcelona to support the mayor.

Separately, police continued their search for ballot boxes, voting papers and campaign leaflets on Wednesday, raiding the offices of Spain’s biggest private delivery company Unipost in the Catalan city of Terrassa, Spanish media reported.

Neither the police nor the Interior Ministry could confirm the raid, but footage showed dozens of people gathered outside the company’s offices chanting ‘Out with the occupying forces,’ handing out voting papers and laying carnations on police cars.

Unipost confirmed the raid without giving further details.

Although polls show less than half of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters want self-rule, most in the wealthy northeastern region want the chance to vote on the issue.

(Additional reporting by Sonya Dowsett and Inmaculada Sanz in Madrid; Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Angus Berwick and Janet Lawrence)

Spain police launch graft probe in Catalan president’s fiefdom

September 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Tuesday’s police raid comes amid mounting tensions as Catalan leaders press ahead with preparations for an independence referendum on October 1

GIRONA (SPAIN) (AFP) – Spanish police carried out searches on Tuesday across Girona, a fiefdom of Catalonia’s pro-separatist president Carles Puigdemont, as part of probe into suspected graft at a local water company, police said.The operation comes amid mounting tensions as Catalan leaders press ahead with preparations for an independence referendum on October 1 despite Madrid’s ban and a court ruling that deems it illegal.

Spain’s Guardia Civil police force said it was carrying out searches at 15 places in Girona, a city some 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Barcelona where Puigdemont served as mayor between 2011 and 2016.

The searches are part of a probe into “suspected illegal activities which could involve the crimes of fraud and breach of trust regarding the awarding of a water supply contract,” police said in a statement.

The operations centres on the activities of Girona water supply company Salt i Sarria, it added.

The probe concerns the activities of the water company when Puigdemont was mayor of Girona, according to conservative daily newspaper La Razon which splashed the investigation on its front page.

Meanwhile police were also searching for referendum material at private courier company in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat near Barcelona, a police spokesman said.

Prosecutors have demanded that police seize all materials which could be used to stage the referendum such as ballots, ballot boxes and posters and fliers promoting the vote.

They have also opened a criminal probe into the over 700 Catalan mayors who have offered to help stage the referendum.

About 40 mayors have been formally summoned to be questioned as part of this investigation, three of them on Tuesday.

Polls show Catalonia’s roughly 7.5 million residents are deeply divided on independence.

A survey commissioned by the regional government in July showed 49.4 percent of Catalans were against independence while 41.1 percent were in favour.

Corruption-plagued Brazil gets new chief prosecutor

September 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Raquel Dodge, seen here at commission hearings in July, vowed to defend democracy as Brazil’s new chief prosecutor

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – A new chief prosecutor took over Monday in Brazil to oversee an avalanche of corruption investigations, including against President Michel Temer, and promised that no one would be “above the law.”Raquel Dodge replaced the hard hitting Rodrigo Janot who last week rounded off his dramatic term in office by charging Temer with racketeering and obstruction of justice.

Dodge, 56, was nominated by Temer and some analysts see the changeover as heralding a slowdown of Brazil’s huge “Car Wash” anti-graft operation. Temer has railed repeatedly against what he calls an out of control judiciary, a theme echoed by many in Congress who also have been accused of corruption.

At her swearing in ceremony in Brasilia, attended by Temer, Dodge vowed to “defend democracy” and said that her office would make sure that “no one is above the law and that no one is below the law.”

But indicating at the very least a less abrasive approach than Janot, she stressed the need for “harmony” between the different branches of government “as a requirement for the stability of the nation.”

She barely mentioned her predecessor and never referred specifically to “Car Wash.”

One of Dodge’s first big tasks as prosecutor general will be to oversee the latest charges brought against Temer by Janot last Thursday. The charges will soon be sent to the lower house of Congress for debate and, if approved, sent back to the Supreme Court which would open a trial, resulting in Temer’s suspension for 180 days.

A first criminal charge of bribe-taking filed by Janot in June was handily rejected by Temer’s allies in Congress. And analysts agree overwhelmingly that legislators will likewise toss out the latest charges.

Beyond the Temer charges, Dodge inherits the enormous case load of Janot’s probes and prosecutions targeting scores of other politicians and executives.

About a third of Temer’s cabinet is under investigation. Another high profile target is former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been convicted of taking bribes and faces five more graft trials.

The switch in head prosecutor also comes at a crucial time in domestic politics.

Temer is attempting to steer through far-reaching pension reform to strip back what his government says is an unsustainably generous system. While he has strong market support for this and other austerity reforms aimed at ending Brazil’s economic slump, the measures are unpopular and the president has been forced to spend much of his political capital to shore up support against the corruption charges.

However, Temer is now seen as stronger than he has been for months and Janot’s departure will boost his position further.

Although the scandals have been severely embarrassing, leading politicians are seen as unwilling to rock the boat by sending Temer to trial ahead of presidential elections in October of next year. Temer, who is deeply unpopular, is not expected to seek a new term.

IMF’s Lipton Says Ukraine Risks Going Backwards — Corruption, graft

September 15, 2017

KIEV — Ukraine risks reversing progress made under a $17.5 billion aid-for-reforms programme from the International Monetary Fund, IMF first deputy managing director David Lipton was quoted as saying on Friday, urging the government to improve anti-graft efforts.

“There are risks of going backwards,” Lipton told online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda in an interview during a visit to Kiev to meet Ukrainian authorities.

“We certainly agree that the creation of an anti-corruption court is an important next step. We encourage the government to do that.”

(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alison Williams)

Brazil Police Raid Agricultural Minister’s Home

September 14, 2017

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s federal police conducted a raid and search operation at the house of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in Brasilia, related to an ongoing bribery and graft scandal, TV Globo reported on Thursday.

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It said the raid is linked to a plea deal by former Mato Grosso state governor Silval Barbosa, who accuses Maggi of participating in a corruption scheme that lasted between 2007 and 2010. Maggi is also a former governor of Mato Grosso – a major producer of soybeans, grains and cattle.

Efforts to contact Maggi’s press representatives in Brasilia were unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by W Simon)

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