Former Romanian Agriculture Minister Convicted of Corruption

Ioan Avram Muresam (pictured here), the former Romanian Agriculture Minister, was sentenced to seven years in prison for embezzlement for a case dating back to December 18th, 2003, although Mr. Muresam can still appeal the decision.

During his time as the Agriculture Minister, Mr. Muresam wrote several orders to release oil from the state’s reserve as a loan to a Romanian company in May and November 1999 and in April 2000.

Mr. Muresam was not alone in the case, however, as Ioan Truta Enea, a former Deputy Secretary General, Dan Jiga, a former Director General in the Agriculture Ministry, and Silvia Capitanu, a former Director also in the Agriculture Ministry, were also indicted in the case.

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

The photo of Mr. Muresam comes from EMM.ro.

2010: More Than 1,000 Cases of Money Laundering in Switzerland

According to the Swiss Federal Police Office, the suspected number of money laundering cases in 2010 increased by over 30% on the 2009 totals, while the amount of assets involved in the cases dropped by 50% to $964 million, on par with the 10-year average.

As in previous years, the banking sector recorded more suspected cases than the payment services sector, with a major bank and a foreign-controlled bank among those cases suspected of bribery and criminal mismanagement. The number of suspected terrorist-funding cases also doubled between 2009 and 2010, although eight of the thirteen SARs (Suspected Activity Report) involved only three cases.

For the original article from Swissinfo.ch, please click here.

Please also note that the photo from this article also comes from the Swissinfo article.

Swedish Housing Boss Guilty in Bribery Trial

Olle Lundgren (pictured here) was convicted of accepting $13,500-worth (24 metric tons) of bricks meant for the construction of housing by the contractor Weinberger, in the hope that Mr. Lundgren would help out the company in the future.

Mr. Lundgren’s conviction in the case will lead to a 6-month prison sentence even though, according to Mr. Lundgren’s attorney – Anders Munck – Mr. Lundgren believed that he had paid for the bricks, at least until last year when the bribery accusations arose.

The scandal also affects the the local municipal housing firm, Familjebostäder, the city’s sports and clubs division, and the relationship between housing magnate Stefan Allbäck and municipal officials.

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

The photo of Mr. Lundgren comes courtesy of GT.Expressen.SE.

62 Romanian Border Police Officers Indicted for Corruption

62 Romanian Border Patrol Officers and 4 Customs Officials were indicted by Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors from a northern border crossing on Wednesday. The 66 officials are accused of soliciting and/or accepting bribes amount to approximately 893,740 euros between September 2010 and January 2011.

A total of 49 of the 66 indicted persons are currently in custody, with the other 17 still at large.

For the original articles, please see the sites of Mediafax.ro and Hotnews.ro.

Please note that the photo from this article comes from Mediafax’s version of the article.

Romanian Media Mogul Threatens Tv Board Members With Death

In a disagreement with the Board of Asesoft (owners of Realitatea TV in Romania) over additions to a management contract, media mogul Sorin Ovidiu Vantu (pictured here) and some of his associates threatened to kill Sebastian Ghita and other members of the Asesoft Board.

Ghita went on to tell Hotnews.ro that negotiations over the contract had not yet been concluded. Mr. Vantu, however, told Pagina de media that Ghita would no longer be the manager of Realitatea TV, that he had decided to end the contract, and that he would make this official in due time.

For the original story from Hotnews.ro, please see the link above.

Georgia’s Ministry of Justice to Share Experience With Kazakhs

A Kazakh delegation from the Ministry of Justice visited their counterparts from Georgia on Wednesday to familiarize themselves with reforms that the Georgian’s implemented in order to combat corruption, crime, and the thievish mentality.

The Georgians shared their experiences with the Kazakh delegation in order to help the Kazakhs with their own reforms. Furthermore, a discussion over the planned and implemented projects put in place to reduce juvenile crime were also discussed by the two delegations.

For the original story, please click here.

The picture of the gavel also comes from the Trend.az site.

Czech President Shuffles Cabinet After Corruption Scandal

The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, appointed two new cabinet ministers after a corruption scandal involving Public Affairs, the junior partner in the Center-Right coalition, surfaced recently, throwing the Czech government coalition scrambling. The move comes ahead of a vote-of-confidence called by left parties scheduled for next Tuesday, which the government is now confident of winning.

Radek Smerda, the former Deputy Transport Minister, will now replace former Transport Minister Vít Bárta (pictured above), who was at the center of the corruption scandal and also the leader of the Public Affairs Party. The Czech Prime Minister, Petr Necas, originally called for the dismissal of all of Public Affair’s ministers who had ties to the security company ABL, which was once owned by Bárta.

For the original story from Euractiv and Reuters, please click here.

The photo of Mr. Bárta comes from CSOB.CZ

Us Ambassador to Bulgaria Says Bulgarian Justice System Is Corrupt

The US Ambassador to Bulgaria, James Warlick (pictured), said that the Bulgarian judicial system was dishonest, corrupt, and had two sets of standards: one set for the wealthy and powerful and another for the poor and ordinary.

The Ambassador made his comments at a national security and anti-crime conference organized by the George Marshall Association in Bulgaria. Warlick also stated that it was imperative that the Bulgarian government enforce the rule of law, that it end the double standards in judicial proceedings, and that the Interior Ministry make some necessary arrests.

Ambassador Warlick ended his statements by saying that Bulgarian prosecutors needed to be able to gather adequate evidence while, at the same time, respecting the privacy rights of Bulgarian citizens and that Bulgaria should look asset-freezing laws in Germany and Switzerland in order to combat crime.

For the original story from the Sofia Echo, please click here.

The picture of Ambassador Warlick also comes from this Sofia Echo article and is courtesy of Nadezhda Chipeva.

Human Rights Group Criticizes Jailing of Blogger

Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil (26 – pictured here) was sentenced earlier this week to three years in prison for criticizing military rule, causing an outcry among rights activists both in Egypt and abroad. Mr. Nabil was sentenced last Sunday without his lawyers present, as they were told that the sentencing would take place on Tuesday.

Mr. Nabil was sentenced for writing in his blog that In truth, until now the revolution was achieved by getting rid of the dictator (Mubarak), but dictatorship is still present. Many activists have criticized Egypt’s military council for trying a civilian in a military court, which does not live up to the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people.

While General Mamdouh Shaheen said that Mr. Nabil would have an opportunity to appeal his sentence, New York-based Human Rights Watch’s Joe Stork, the Middle East Director at HRW, said that Maikel Nabil’s three-year sentence may be the worst strike against free expression in Egypt since the Mubarak government jailed the first blogger for four years in 2007.

For the original story from Reuters, please click here.

Kosovar Mayor Convicted of Extortion

A panel of EULEX judges at the District Court in Pristina found the Mayor of Kacanik, Xhabir Zharku (pictured here), guilty of extortion and illegal arms possession, with the trial having ended last Thursday (the 21st). Mr. Zharku was sentenced to three years of prison and fined a sum of 1,500 euros.

Mr. Zharku, along with his assistant Arsim Kolshi and two co-defendants, were accused of pressuring businessmen to drop out of a privatization process that he and his associates had wanted in on. Mr. Zharku denounced the charges, saying that they were politically motivated.

Mr. Zharku plans to appeal the decision and will be able to remain in office until the outcome of the appeal is reached.

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

The photo of Mr. Zharku comes courtesy of Express Online, with photo credits belonging to Petrit Rrahmani.

Former Egyptian Housing Minister Arrested for Corruption

Ibrahim Soliman, the former Egyptian Housing Minister from 1993-2005 under now-deposed President Hosni Mubarak, has been arrested on charges of corruption. Mr. Soliman came under fire first in 2009 from independent members of the Egyptian parliament for allegedly corrupt real estate deals connected to family members and high-level government officials.

Mr. Soliman is the second former Housing Minister to be questioned over corruption issues, as Ahmed el-Maghrabi is also standing trial for surrounding real estate to Egypt’s second-largest real estate developer, Palm Hills, via a third, foreign comapny supposedly set up solely for this transaction.

The combination of these two arrests augur poorly for the stability of Egyptian real estate countries dating back to the Mubarak era, as the courts ruled last year that a deal with the Talat Moustafa Group (TMG) was illegal.

For the original story from News Daily, (story via Reuters), please click here.

Prosecutor Wants Baryktobasov Jailed for 18 Years

The prosecutor in charge of Kyrgyz opposition leader Urmat Baryktobasov’s (pictured here) case for allegedly trying to illegally overthrow the government, along with 14 other associates, has asked for the maximum jail time – 18 years. Mr. Baryktobasov tried to register as a candidate for the 2005 elections, but was denied because the Election Commission said that he was a Kazakh citizen.

Mr. Baryktobasov was tried in absentia after the 2005 incident and went into hiding. After his most recent arrest, allegedly for having hidden weapons while marching, more than 3,000 people demonstrated in Bishkek’s central square, demanding that Kyrgyz President Rosa Otunbaeva appoint him Prime Minister.

Fore the original story from Radio Free Europe, please click here.

The picture of Mr. Baryktovasov comes courtesy of Reuters.

Commonwealth Games Organiser Arrested in India

The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation confirmed that they had arrested Suresh Kalmadi (pictured here), who was in charge of organizing last year’s Commonwealth Games, which were plagued by scandal. Mr. Kalmadi has been accused of conspiring to favor a Swiss company that provided equipment for the scoring and timing of the events.

Two other Games’ officials were arrested alongside Mr. Kalmadi and were charged with causing a huge loss to the Indian government by overpaying for the equipment (estimated at 1.41 billion rupees ~ $31.29 million) sold by Swiss Timings Ltd, which was available at lower prices from other companies.

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

The picture of Mr. Kalmadi also comes courtesy of Bigpondnews.com

Thousands Join Indian Activist’s Hunger Strike Against Corruption

Prominent Indian activist Anna Hazare (72) began a fast unto death in order to coerce the government to allow civil society to have a say in the adoption of a bill meant to fight against corruption through the creation of an ombudsman. The protests, number in low-thousands, include people from over 400 different cities and towns in India.

Mr. Hazare has stated that if the government does not involve civil society in the drafting process of the ombudsman bill, it will not be democratic, it will be autocratic. Indian President Manmohan Singh said that, while he deeply respects the prominent activist and his cause, he was deeply disappointed by Mr. Hazare’s decision to go through with the planned hunger strike.

For a comprehensive article on the the movement being led by Mr. Hazare, please click here.

Erdogan Rejects Accusations of Pressuring the Media

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured here), of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), argued at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) that the independence of the media was not under attack in Turkey despite the recent arrest of 26 journalists, as the Prime Minister noted that the journalists were not arrested for crimes related to their profession.

The PM asked the Council of Europe to send representatives to Turkey in order to assess the situation on the ground for themselves, with CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland saying that he had accepted the invitation and that This [was] a constructive approach and a move forward in the discussion about media freedom in Turkey.

The PM later went on to state that the journalists were arrested in conjunction with the fight against those who advocate a military coup in Turkey, stating that this was not a problem that European countries faced.

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

The photo of PM Erdogan comes courtesy of Reuters.

Run-Off Elections’ Results in HaiTI Delayed Due to Fraud

Haitian officials, hours before the winners of Haiti’s run-off elections that brought Michel Martelly (pictured here) to power were supposed to take office, delayed the publication of final results amid accusations that at least 18 seats, possibly 19, were tainted by fraud.

The United Nations and other major international donors had expressed concern over 18 of the seats, with Haitian officials adding a possible nineteenth to the count. President-elect Martelly called for an independent probe into the manner to be conducted and for the international community to not recognize the results of the March 20th elections.

For the original story from RJR news, please click here.

Gamal Mubarak to Appear Before Egyptian Panel on Corruption

Gamal Mubarak, son of the former Egyptian President Hosni and the once-presumed heir to his father’s rule, has been summoned to appear before an Egyptian panel by the country’s newly created anti-corruption body in order to explain the sudden growth in his personal wealth.

Gamal Mubarak is not alone either – he is the third person from his father’s former regime to be called up recently by the anti-corruption body to be brought before the panel. Hosni Mubarak’s former Chief of Staff, Zakaria Azmi, and the former Interior Minister are also suspected of corruption, with the former planned to appear before the panel this Friday.

While Hosni Mubarak is currently under house arrest at the Red Sea town of Sharm-el-Sheikh, the assets of his wife, Suzannea, his two sons Alaa and Gamal, and their wives have been frozen under the request of the new Prosecutor General Abdul Majid Mahmud.

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

Kyrgyz Commission to Investigate Former Deputy Prime Minister

The Kyrgyz parliament has set up a commission to look into alleged matters of financial irregularities leveled against former Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov (pictured here) by former Prosecutor General Kubatbek Baibolov one day after Mr. Babanov resigned from his post in order to clear his name. The accusations from Mr. Baibolov came one month after he was fired from his position in the government.

Kyrgyzstan’s three-party coalition has descended into squabbling only a short time since forming after the most recent parliamentary elections that were held at the end of last year.

For the full AP story, please click here.

The photo of Mr. Babanov comes courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Corruption Still a Problem in Funding Spanish Political Parties

GRECO (the Group of States Against Corruption) released a report on April 1st where Spain was criticized for not having done enough to improve transparency in the funding of political parties, especially at the local level, where 25% of a party’s funding typically comes from.

The European report was also highly critical of the level of financing done through bank loans and the amount of debt that Spanish political parties had due to these loans, amounting to approximately 144 million euros in 2005. GRECO made six recommendations for Spain to work on two years ago, with GRECO saying that Spain had not done enough to improve in these areas.

For the original article from the Spanish daily El País (also available in Spanish), please click here.

Please note that GRECO’s trademark is their copyright, with the picture being taken from their website, found above.

Kyrgyzstan Still Fighting Corruption One Year After Ousting of Bakiev

One year after popular protests forced Kyrgyz strongman Kurmanbek Bakiev to flee the country for Belarus, the government of interim President Roza Otunbaeva (pictured here) is still struggling to fight corruption and organized crime says First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov.

While some accuse the government of having done very little over the past year other than rename a mountain after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Mr. Babanov denied these claims. Fighting rampant corruption, bribery, and organized crime amidst soaring accusations against the government and infighting has never been done before in Kyrgyzstan, according to Mr. Babanov.

Nevertheless, Kyrgyzstan faces a myriad of problems, including the pro-Bakiev party being the largest party in the governing coalition, a weak economy, and the ever-present unrest of many of the country’s youth.

For the original story from GlobalSecurity.org, please click here.

TI Calls on Egypt to Strengthen Anti-Corruption Laws

Transparency International announced via its website last week that it has called upon the Egyptian military regime to strengthen its anti-corruption laws and has hailed the ongoing investigations into former Mubarak-era officials, including former President Hosni Mubarak as well.

Starting yesterday (Sunday), TI Egypt held a workshop entitled Towards a new integrity system in Egypt that ended today. Furthermore, starting tomorrow, TI will be hosting A practical guide to asset recovery: How to guarantee accountability during the Egyptian revolution.

For the original press release, you can go to TI’s website, which can be found here.

Transparency International’s logo, found here, is their property.

Six Romanians in Airport Management Indicted for Fraud

Six employees of Bucharest’s Baneasa Airport, including four managers, were indicted last Friday by Romanian prosecutors for fraud in dealing with a contract to repair the airport’s runways, inducing losses of approximately 5.8 million euros.

The contract for the repairs dates back to 2007 but was amended with a new formula to calculate compensation – one that was incompatible with the legal provisions for this type of work – resulting in losses to both the airport and the state budget (taxpayers).

The accused include Florin Paul Fulger, the airport company’s general manager (and later technical manager), Luliana Pop, the economic manager, and Dorian Vlasceanu, legal counsel, along with three others for related crimes.

Please click the appropriate links for the original article from Mediafax.ro (English) or EVZ.RO (Romanian)

Foreign Charities Must Register With Gov’t Says Haitian Pm

So many foreign NGOs work in Haiti that even before the devastating 2010 earthquake it was jokingly referred to as the Republic of NGOs. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive wants NGOs to register with the national government in order to cut down on the duplication of services, some of which compete with government services, and to improve coordination.

Many aid workers, however, are concerned about working with a government that they see as corrupt and inefficient. Making the system worse, according to many in the government, is the fact that foreign aid organizations offer better pay than the government, luring away the most talented Haitians away from government service.

Michel Martelly, the recently-elected President, at least according to the preliminary election results, also supports Bellerive’s desire to have foreign charities register with the national government.

For the original story, please click here.

Former Greek Defense Minister Being Investigated for Bribery

Lawmakers from the ruling PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) proposed on Friday (the 15th) to establish a parliamentary inquiry committee to investigate allegations of bribery from the former Defense Minister, Akis Tsohatzopoulos (pictured here).

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is suspected of accepting kickbacks over the controversial purchase of four German submarines a decade ago for the Greek Navy. The Greek Parliament is scheduled to discuss the proposal to create the inquiry committe on April 29th.

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

Zurich Banker Acquitted of Money Laundering, Bribery, and Falsifying Documents

Eight years after Oskar Holenweger (pictured here, left) was accused of laundering money for South American drug cartels, a Swiss Federal Court cleared him of all charges last Thursday (the 21st). Mr. Holenweger, who was also accused of bribery, falsifying documents, and mismanaging clients’ assets, was also awarded the equivalent of $476,730 in compensation.

According to the original article from Swissinfo, The verdict is a blow for prosecutors who had described the case as an attempt to bolster Switzerland’s efforts to get tougher on corruption.

Furthermore, the case has implications beyond Mr. Holenweger and any possible appeal. The Federal Prosecutor for the case, Erwin Beyeler, may be in trouble in connection with the use of testimony from José Ramos, a Colombian drug baron, which was obtained illegally, although Mr. Beyeler has denied any connection.

The link to the original article can be found above, from where the photo of Mr. Holenweger was also obtained.