Greco Releases Report on Andorra

The Council of Europe’s GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption) released a report on Andorra yesterday (Wednesday) that calls for Andorra to make changes concerning political financing. Another report finds that bribery and corruption are incriminated in a limited way, leading to a dearth in prosecutions and making existing cases harder to prosecute.

For the full report, complete with links to various reports by GRECO, please see the Council of Europe’s news brief here.

Council of Europe Sponsoring Serbian Trip to Ireland/Uk

An excerpt on the scheduled meeting, which begins today, from the Council of Europe’s Action Against Economic Crime’s web page: CAR project is launching a series of actions aimed at examining the possibility of introduction of the non-conviction based forfeiture in Serbia. In anticipation of the aforementioned activities, on 20-25-30 June 2011 CAR project will organize a study visit of twelve judges, prosecutors and police officers to the relevant institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

A detailed agenda of the entire event can be found on the Council’s web page found here.

Tunisia’s Ben Ali Gets 35 Years for Embezzlement in 6-Hour Trial

In a follow-up to Monday’s story, Tunisia’s ousted former President, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, was sentenced to a 35-year prison sentence for charges of embezzlement of state funds after a 6-hour tril. The former Tunisian President denounced the sentence as legally insane, with Mr. Ben Ali’s French lawyer, Jean Yves Le Borgne saying that the speedy verdict shows the lack of any vision of the future.

A US State Department Spokesperson, Viktoria Nuland, however, stated that Just the fact that there was a legal process is already progress, while the spokesperson for a France-based Tunisian rights group lamented that It is a big disappointment, the kind of charade of summary justice that the dictatorship had accustomed us to.

For two articles on the trial, sentence, and charges, please see articles from Yahoo! News and/or the Turkish Weekly. Please note that the photo of Mr. Ben Ali comes from a Swiss website, found here.

Uganda’s Pm Cleared of Wrongdoing in Conflict-Of-Interest Case

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi of Uganda was cleared yesterday of charges of conflict of interest stemming from the purchase of a communications system by the Inspector General of the Government. A May 2010 Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had recommended his prosecution in a general report for a deal amounting to about $5 million that was awarded to Balton (U) Ltd. by a security sub-committee.

The IGG report, written by Raphael Baku, states that No case has been established for prosecution or disciplinary action against any of the people involved in the procurement of the Security Communication System, contrary to the Parliamentary PAC report.

For the original in-depth article, please see allafrica.com’s site here. Please note that the photo of PM Mbabazi comes from a Ugandan news and information site, which can be found here.

Oecd Calls for Action in Arab Region Against Corruption

On June 10th, 2011, senior government officials from across the Arab region met with business and civil society leaders in order to discuss how to tackle corruption and bribery more effectively in Rabat Morocco, with the meeting being organized by the OECD. The OECD Deputy Secretary General, Richard Boucher, was quoted as saying that Governments need to seize this opportunity to tackle corruption, promote good governance and boost the region’s economic and social development.

The meeting, entitled Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Putting Anti-Corruption Commitments into Practice: Transparency, Participation and the Rule of Law, according to the newsbrief, promote(d) an exchange of good practices between senior representatives of Arab and OECD countries to increase transparency and accountability in public institutions and discuss(ed) concrete mechanisms that businesses can put in place to reinforce integrity in their operations, including through internal controls, compliance programmes and sector-specific integrity pacts.

For the full news brief from the OECD, please click here. Please note that the OECD’s logo came from the OECD web site.

German Mep Calls for Anti-Corruption Board in Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania

A German MEP, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (pictured here), recently gave an exclusive interview to EurActiv where, among other things, he calls for the creation of an anti-corruption board. The full text from the EurActiv site can be found below.

The leaders of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, should swallow their pride and allow external experts to administer EU funding in their countries, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a German liberal MEP of Greek descent, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Born in Duisburg and a member of Germany’s Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP), Jorgo Chatzimakakis comes from a political science background and is an active member of several German-Greek and German-Turkish associations.

A year ago, Chatzimarkakis published with EurActiv an op-ed titled ‘Greece needs a Hercules Plan‘.

He was speaking to EurActiv’s Senior Editor Georgi Gotev.

To read a shortened version of this interview, please click here.

Mr. Chatzimarkakis, you are one of the authors of the ‘Hercules Plan‘ for Greece unveiled yesterday (21 June) in Brussels by the leader of your political group ALDE, Mr. Guy Verhofstadt.

Among other things, this plan foresees a long-term institutional reform programme, aimed at dealing with corruption and dubious political practices, with technical assistance from the relevant EU services and agencies.

Do you think that Greece is the only EU country that deserves such treatment?

The responsible commissioner, Hahn [Johannes Hahn; Regional Policy Commissioner] from Austria, told me there are three countries – Greece, Bulgaria and Romania – which would have the need for such a programme.

In what context did he tell you this?

The question of absorption of EU money is a big issue for the commissioner responsible for cohesion funds. And he sees three countries that are not able to absorb EU funding in an appropriate manner. This affects in a special manner Bulgaria and Romania, but also Greece, which has fallen even behind Bulgaria and Romania.

That has to do with the non-existent capacity of ministries to come up with proposals, but also to work on the programmes and to mend the problems in the country. It’s not only co-financing problems, it’s also an administrative problem and it’s very severe. So we have to use technical assistance to overcome the problems in all three countries.

This is something absolutely unprecedented. Nobody has done anything similar vis-à-vis another country before.

Indeed, it hasn’t been done before. Commissioner Hahn has some hundreds of millions of euro in his portfolio for so-called ‘technical assistance’. That means he can send people, experts, from the European Investment Bank, from the European Commission, from the member states, for a certain time, to the respective countries, to help the administration, to implement programmes and absorb money.

But do you think the governments of these countries would be open to such an initiative? I am not sure about Greece, but maybe the Greek government doesn’t have much choice. How do you expect the Bulgarian prime minister or the Romanian president to swallow their pride and accept such an anti-corruption board?

That’s the problem. All the respective countries have the problem of being very proud, saying ‘this cuts our sovereignty’, although this is just not the case, of course. Those are just programmes that will still be presented by the member states, not by civil servants. Civil servants or experts will just help implement the financial side.

I think we have to think beyond categories of being proud or not being proud. I understand that Greeks at the moment are very sensitive when it comes to national pride. But on the other hand, young people cannot wait for a job only because the prime minister or the ministers are too proud. They have to understand there is money here on the accounts.

But the money can’t pass to create jobs and help people there if politicians continue to behave like this. They should stop, the Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian politicians should stop telling people things that are not true. They should admit: we have a problem there. We could limit the technical assistance to three years and that’s it.

What do you think the position of the European Parliament would be if this issue comes to the plenary?

It’s a precedent, and parliamentarians will measure very carefully whether we should create a precedent. But looking at the deep crisis Greece is in, I think we will have a majority at least for Greece, and this precedent could of course pave the way for Bulgaria and Romania.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Chatzimarkakis does not come from the EurActiv site, but from Welt Online.

Italy Suspects Energy Companies of Corruption in Dealings in Iraq and Kuwait

Italy’s largest energy group, ENI, is being investigated for corruption by an Italian prosecutor. The prosecutor is looking to determine whether or not ENI executives received kickbacks from Italian construction and engineering firms for the awarding of sub-contracts dealing with ENI projects in Iraq and Kuwait.

ENI, however, is not the only Italian firm under suspicion of receiving kickbacks, as a source close to the investigation also said that the firms Bonatti, Ansaldo, Renco, Elettra Energia and Elettra Progetti are also suspected of promising kickbacks or bribing officials.

For the original from France24, please click here. Please note that ENI’s logo comes from their web site, found here.

Serbia to Investigate Privatizations in Response to Eu Demands

Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic (pictured here) said that looking into the possible illegal privatization of 20 Serbian companies, as demanded by the EU Commission, would prove to be very important in order to continue accession talks to the EU, while others commented that this would be an important test for the Serbia judiciary.

Verica Barac, the head of the Serbian Anti-Corruption Council, said would be difficult, given the problems with the Serbian judiciary.

In the meantime, the Serbian Prosecutor’s Office has responded with a statement that investigations were ongoing and that the public would be notified soon.

For the original story from SETimes.com, please click here. Please note that the photo of Mr. Dacic is from the SETimes.com article and is attributed to Reuters.

Commissioner Füle Confirms Areas That Need Improvement for Fyrom

EU Commissioner Štefan Füle (pictured here) confirmed, after meeting with the FYROM’s PM, Nicola Gruevski, the areas in which the FYROM needs to make improvements in order to continue on the road to EU accession, with public administration and judicary reform, the fight against corruption, and the freedom of the media being included in the official statement after the meeting.

For the original press release, please see Europa’s web site, found here. Please note that the photo of Commissioner Füle is from the 2009 Czech Presidency’s web site, found here.

Serb Opposition Politician Rails Against Endemic Corruption

The Serb Progressive Party (SNS) Leader Tomislav Nicolić (pictured here) held a conference on Thursday in Belgrade dedicated to fighting corruption, with Mr. Nicolić saying that Serbia needs a general anti-corruption strategy that is based on reforming institutions, changing legislation, and increasing the partnership between the state and civil society.

Mr. Nicolić went on to call Serbia a cleptocracy because everybody is working together. Later on he said that it should be SNS’ priority to lead the fight against corruption, as this would be the way that Serbia would begin to accept European values and fight against the damage that corruption does to the economic and social life of the country.

For the original article from B92.net, please click here. Please note that the photo of Mr. Nicolić is credited to BETA and comes from B92.net article.

Prosecuting Mubarak for Corruption Not So Easy

The head of the Egyptian investigation unit in charge of investigating the charges of corruption levelled against the former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has said that it has proven quite difficult as of yet because Mr. Mubarak is a master of the art of evasion. Mr. Mubarak and his wife (both pictured here), along with their sons Alaa and Gamal, are under suspicion of having embezzled money from the Egyptian state during Mr. Mubarak’s long rule.

A host of former ministers are also facing charges of corruption along with charges of injuring and/or killing protestors during the riots earlier this year.

For the original article from news24.com, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. and Mrs. Mubarak is from PressTV’s site, found here.

Bjp Continuing Fight Against Corruption in India

India’s BJP General Secretary, Ananth Kumar (pictured here), argued against the idea that the BJP is simply following the lead of anti-corruption protetors such as Anna Hazare and the popular yogi Baba Ramdev, saying that the BJP had brought up these issues in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Kumar announced that the BJP stood behind Yogi Baba Ramdev in his fight against corruption, but would not participate in his call to amass 11,000 supporters to his cause.

For the original article from The Hindu, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Kumar comes from BJP website, found here.

Spanish Party Accused of Buying Votes in Local Election

Juan José Imbroda (pictured here), the mayor of Melilla and from the Popular Party (Partido Popular – PP), has been accused of buying the votes of drug addicts and the poor by offering them jobs, cash, or coupons for food or gas for the May 22nd City Council election. Mustafá Aberchán, head of the Coalition for Melilla, accused Mr. Imbroda and officially filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Court and hopes to have the election results annulled.

These accusations of corruption come amidst turmoil in the Spanish political system, as the Socialist Party of Spain (PSOE) is positioned to lose as many as 90 administrative districts to the PP, in part due to the lack of support by the United Left (Izquierda Unida – IU) – who may yet swing to the right and support the PP.

For the original article from El País, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Imbroda also comes from El País’ archives, found here.

Dutch Slow to React in Philips-Poland Corruption Case

The Polish Prosecutor’s Office has accused the Dutch authorities of being slow to react to their requests for assistance in the ongoing corruption case invovling Philips-Poland workers, who are accused of paying 760,000 euros ($1.1 million) in bribes between 1999 and 2006.

While the Polish authorities had made several requests for assistance from the Dutch, no answers were received until after the Polish authorities had already concluded with their own investigation.

The case revolves around three Philips-Poland workers who are thought to have paid bribes in order for a hospital to purchase Philips equipment. In total, the case, which is scheduled to be heard in October, includes 90 charges.

For the original article from Dutchnews.nl, please click here.

Philips’ logo was obtained from their website, found here.

Congolese Diplomat to Serbia Investigated for Smuggling

Congolese Diplomat, Marc Marius Itela, and his wife Bombeto Pascaline Esther (pictured here) are being investigated by anti-corruption authorities in Romania for leading an organized crime group including Romanians and Serbians involved in smuggling cigarettes between the two countries.

The couple is suspected of using their official diplomatic car to avoid being checked by customs officials at the Moravita customs. The authorities in Romania are currently searching the homes of 9 of those suspected to be involved in the smuggling operation.

For the original article from HotNews.ro, please click here.

The photo of Ms. Esther comes from a Libertatea.ro article in Romanian on the same subject, found here.

Ex-Siemens Manager Charged in Germany over Alleged Bribes in Argentina

German prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they have filed charges against a former Siemens manager and Board Member (between 2000 and 2007) over alleged bribes paid to local Argentine officials to produce identity cards.

Siemens subsidiaries concluded contracts in the 1990s to produce identity cards after bribing local officials; however, the contract was cancelled in 2001 and some officials argued that they should have still been paid at least $27 million anyway, with the ex-manager saying that the money should come from a slush fund.

While the money was paid out from the sluch fund over a several year period, this case is only one part of a larger network of scandals involving Siemens that have added up to over $1 billion in fines in the United States and Germany, with another Board Member, Thomas Ganswindt going on trial earlier this year.

For the original article from the Greenfield Reporter.com, please click here.

Please note that the Siemens logo came from their global website, located here.

Corrupt Oil-For-Food Contracts in Iraq Are (Finally) Closed

The corrupt Oil For Food program run by the UN in the mid-90s to help ease civilian suffering in Iraq due to sanctions led to lawsuits involving over 150 companies – all of which were closed as of Tuesday, the Iraqi government announced.

Various international companies overcharged for supplies sold under the program by an estimated 10% and used this to enrich Iraq’s deposed dictator, Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi government announced in February that it was pursuing over 150 companies for the corruption involved in running the program, but has since come to terms with all of them.

For the original story from Zawya.com, please click here.

Credits for the comic provided here can be found on the bottom of the comic strip.

Ec Demands Romanian Gov’t Return over 1 Million Euros

The European Commission told the Romanian National Sports Authority that it needed to return over 1 million euros ($1.42 million) that it had illegally spent between 2003 and 2005. Romanian anti-corruption investigators thus began investigating the activities conducted by the Sports Authority who was under the leadership of Cristian Rizea (pictured here), of the Social Democratic Party.

While Mr. Rizea no longer runs the National Sports Authority (he was in charge between 2002 and 2006), he is still a current Deputy of the Romanian Parliament.

For the original article from Hotnews.ro, please click here.

The photo of Mr. Rizea is from a PSD-sponsored website, found here.

Serbian Anti-Corruption Council Releases Report

Serbia’s Anti-Corruption Council released a report in mid-May on the privatization of the company Novosti and announced this both via a press conference (photo here) and online on their website (available in English and Serbian). The Council’s findings include the belief that the state privitization institution had made mistakes over the past 10 years that had injured Serbia.

Decisions were made by the institution to favor certain interests groups and wealthy individuals during its privitization, with the Council deciding to submit criminal complaints regarding the illegal privitization of Novosti.

Along with the short news brief summarized here, the site also includes the actual report on the privitization and a letter to the Prime Minister.

The original news brief can be found on the linked website above; please also note that the photo of the news conference also comes from the Anti-Corruption Council’s website.

Montenegro Needs to Continue Reforms on Rule of Law

Jean Charles Gardetto (pictured here), the rapportuer for Montengro for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), praised the Montenegran government for its reforms on the rule of law and other Council of Europe recommendations, but said that they needed to continue with reforms, such as passing the Ombudsman law.

Gardetto mentioned that work still needs to be done in areas such as the protection of minorities, fighting corruption and organized crime, and the appointment of a supreme state prosecutor, but urged the government to not pass any laws until they were first reviewed by the Venice Commission.

When asked if the government had the political will to fight corruption and organized crime, Mr. Gardetto said that there was still work to do, while the co-rapporteur (Serhiy Holovaty) said that there is still a lot of work to do and the government has shown goodwill to co-operate with international organisations and work on these issues.

For the original article from SETimes, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Gardetto also comes from the SETimes article.

Armenian Man Jailed for Questionable Corruption Charges Released

Tigran Postanjian (pictured here), the brother of a prominent Armenian opposition parliament deputy, Zaruhi Postanjian, was released from jail after spending more than three months on corruption charges, which he says are a backhanded way for the government to silence his outspoken sister.

Mr. Postanjian was working for the Arabkir district in February when he was arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe of 100,000 drams ($275) in order to ignore illegal construction. Ms. Postanjian and her party, Zharangutyun (Heritage), have since claimed that the charges were bogus, which law enforcement personnel denied.

Mr. Postanjian went on a hunger strike about a month ago in order to protest his detention, after he which he was released when a judge ruled on June 3rd that Mr. Postanjian qualified for a general amnesty declared by the authorities last month.

For the original story from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Postanjian comes from the RFE/RL site and is accredited to Azatutyun.

Azerbaijani Official in Ministry of Education Detained on Corruption Charges

The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General, via the Anti-Corruption Department, launched an investigation into a Ministry of Education (building pictured here) official concerning corruption charges and arrested several employees, including one employee named Orkhan Kerimov.

For the original article from Trend.az, please click here.

Please note that the photo of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education also comes from the Trend.az news article.

Former Macedonian Interior Miniter Held for Abuse of Office

A former Macedonian Interior Minister, Ljube Boskoski (pictured here), was arrested on Monday after allegedly being found with a revolver and 100,000 in cash in a bag in his car. A court in Skopje ruled that Mr. Boskoski would be held for 30 days pending a trial on suspicion that he unlawfully financed a political campaign and abused his position as party leader.

Mr. Boskoski was the Interior Minister between 1998 and 2002 and is currently heading the United for Macedonia party, although the party failed to win even one seat in Sunday’s parliamentary election.

For the original story from Taiwannews.com, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Boskoski comes from Sense-agency.com and is unattributed.

British Embassy Official Allowed Turned a Blind Eye to Fraudulent Albanian Applications

Mark Griffith (pictured here), a British diplomat, allowed more than 60 Albanians to enter the UK on fraudulent visas in connection with Samuel Fongho, a recruitment consultant. While Mr. Fongho was said to have charged up to 7,122 pounds (nearly $11,700) per application, it is not clear if Mr. Griffith profited as well.

Mr. Griffith seemingly processed visa applications for Albanians to live and work in home care centers across the UK, even though glaring mistakes were obvious in the applications. After 4 years, foreigners are able to apply for permanent residency permits, which are almost always approved.

For the more in-depth article from The Daily Mail, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Griffith comes from The Daily Mail article.