Editorial Calls on Uk Prime Minister to Strengthen Lobbying Regulations

An editorial published in The Observer called on United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured here) to fulfill a previous promise to fight corruption in lobbying through increased transparency about this activity, following the recent scandal that led to former Defense Secretary Liam Fox’s resignation.

According to the article, Cameron had already raised attention to corruption in the spurious deals between lobbyists and government officials 20 months ago, when he was still a Member of Parliament. Later on, in a speech as Prime Minister, he vowed to implement a compulsory registry system to function as a public record for all lobbying activities, including identity of clients and contact with officials.

The editorial makes use of the recent case of ex-Defense Secretary Liam Fox, who resigned after it became public that a close friend of his had been financed by companies with interest in the defense sector, to argue for the need to tighten regulation on lobbyism.

It also mentions that, in addition to corrupt deals that may emerge from the lobbying industry, increased transparency is needed to avoid that lobbying activities undermine democracy and the public interest.

Read the full article Honour the pledge to clean up lobbying, Mr Cameron on guardian.co.uk. The picture of Mr. Cameron featured above is from telegraph.co.uk and is credited to Getty.

Local Italian Tv Channel Raises a Voice Against the Mafia

An article by Dany Mitzman takes a closer look into Telejato, a small Sicilian TV channel that has emerged as a single voice against the mafia in the region. Located in Partinico village close to Palermo, the TV station focuses on anti-mafia and corruption-related stories on its daily news bulletin.

Telejato’s success can be attributed to Pino Maniaci, the journalist in charge of the news program. He claims that all local residents, including mafia members, watch the bulletin. Mr. Maniaci is seen as a pioneer for courageously reporting about mafiosi and being the first to publicly disclose their identities. Such boldness has already costed him several life threats and a murder attempt, but he is proud to keep making an effort to counter the mafia power in Southern Italy.

For the full article on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture shown above is also featured in the article.

Cuban Government Investigates British Company on Corruption Allegations

Cuba’s recent anti-corruption investigations into relations between state businesses and foreign companies now hit the British investment fund Coral Capital and led to the arrest of its chief executive last week. The government has not yet disclosed the accusations against the companies.

The move against Coral Capital resembles measures to shut down two Canadian trading firms in the last couple of months. In their case, the arrest of Vice Minister for sugar Nelson Labrada suggested that the investigations were related to purchases from the Canadian companies, but the specific accusations were not made public.

Efforts to fight corruption in Cuba have been a priority in Raul Castro’s government since he took power in 2008. In 2009, he established a Comptroller-General’s Office to assist the government in its anti-corruption policies.

Read the full article Cuba probes British fund, arrests top executive on reuters.com. The picture featured above is from trust.org and is credited to Reuters/Enrique de la Osa.

Colombian Government Adopts Zero Tolerance Against Corruption

Colombia’s current administration is taking measures to fulfill its pledge to turn the fight against corruption into a main priority. However, for Miguel Francisco Prado, head of the government’s anti-corruption body, efforts to better monitor state funds and contracting procedures are needed to combat graft more effectivelly.

The government has so far focused on targeting high-profile corruption cases through investigations conducted by a special taskforce with top-level officials from enforcement agencies. According to Prado, coordination between different agencies has been working much better than expected.

This strategy appears to be successful as the number of politicians and government officials arrested on corruption charges increases. Recent examples are the conviction of a former intelligence chief for involvement with paramilitary groups and the recent arrest of Bogota’s mayor for fraud in public work contracts during his administration.

Nevertheless, Prado highlights that the government must focus more strongly on vulnerable areas, such as public contracting. He emphasizes the need to increase transparency and allow the public to better monitor the government’s procurement decisions. He also raises attention to the importance of monitoring the use of state resources, particularly in the oil and mining sector, which is similarly much vulnerable to corruption.

For the full article on trust.org, please click here.

Former Chief of Navy Appointed As Chair to Pakistan’s Anti-Corruption Agency

President Asif Ali Zardari has appointed Admiral Fasih Bokhari, the former chief of Pakistan’s Navy, as the new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s anti-corruption body. The post had been vacant since March and the NAB had been inactive during the past three months.

The appointment raised a controversy from the opposition party PML-N, which claimed that the legal process for the nomination as established in the Constitution was not observed. According to opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PML-N raised objections to the appointment of Admiral Bokhari when first consulted by President Zardari, and replied requesting broader consultations with the opposition in order to find a more suitable candidate. Nevertheless, the President failed to give the opposition a reply about their request. The PML-N further threatened to challenge the appointment before the Supreme Court.

Admiral Bokhari is the fifth NAB chairman to come from the military. Since its inception in 1999, the NAB has had only two civilian chairmen.

Read the full article Pakistan: Former head of navy assumes helm of anti-corruption agency at adnkronos.com.

the Relationship Between Gender and Corruption

An article by Farzana Nawaz posted on Transparency International’s blog discusses the connection between corruption and gender-related issues. Some of the questions that the article addresses relate to whether women perceive corruption differently than men, and whether they are less susceptible to corruption as well.

Ms. Nawaz mentions that academic research has explored this topic only very recently, and that two main lines of research may be identified, one focusing on a potential positive anti-corruption effect of promoting women’s involvement in public administration, and the other on the specific impact of corruption on women and other vulnerable groups.

Some studies, for instance, have shown evidence that higher representation of women in government is associated with lower levels of corruption. Nevertheless, there are scholars who argue that this conclusion masks another mechanism, namely that the imbalance in gender relations determines women’s limited access to corruption networks.

For the full article on blog.transparency.org, please click here. The picture shown above is also featured in the article. The discussion continues on a longer article available here.

Kosovo Democratic Institute Releases New Report on Corruption and Organized Crime

The Kosovo Democratic Institute (logo pictured here) published last week a new report entitled Illegal Millions, which discusses the implications of a Law against Organized Crime and a Law on Confiscation of Property Acquired Illegally for the fight against corruption and organized crime in the country.

The report was launched at an event held on October 12th at AAB-riinvest, where students and representatives of several organizations participated in a roundtable on the subject Organized crime and illegally acquired property, an obstacle for the development of Kosovo.

During the discussion, some arguments were made in favor of the passing of further legislation to address those problems in Kosovo, and also of strengthening implementation of existing laws. The event was organized as part of the project Advocacy for the completion of the package of anti-corruption laws in Kosovo, supported by the British Embassy.

Read the full text Illegal millions – destroying the future on KDI’s website. The report Illegal millions is available in Albanian, English and Serbian.

Police Raids Former Indian Minister’s Home

The homes of ex-minister Dayanidhi Maran (pictured here) have been searched by the Indian police as part of an investigation into his alleged involvement in the 2G license corruption scandal. Mr. Maran was Minister of Communications and Information Technology until 2007 and later occupied the position of Minister of Textiles, from which he resigned in July after being connected to the scandal.

Mr. Maran is accused of coercing the founder of Aircel mobile company to sell his share to the Malaysian firm Maxis. According to the investigators, Maxis would have paid kickbacks to Maran’s brother, Kalanidhi Maran, through his SUN TV network. A case against both of them has already been filed under the Prevention of Corruption law.

Read the full article Indian ex-minister Dayanidhi Maran’s homes raided over graft on bbc.co.uk. The picture of Mr. Maran shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to AFP.

New Resolutions Adopted at TI Annual Meeting

Transparency International held last week its Annual Membership Meeting, where representatives of National Chapters and members from a total of 106 countries attended to discuss the Movement’s present and future strategies. The participants adopted five resolutions that will orient the organization’s advocacy work in the next year.

One of the resolutions addressed the need for accountability and anti-corruption issues to be incorporated into the discussions about increasing aid effectiveness. A second resolution focused on the importance of initiatives to strengthen accountability and good governance in the Middle East and North Africa region.

A document demanding the implementation of anti-corruption mechanisms in climate governance structures was also part of the outcome of the Annual Meeting. Another resolution listed seven priority areas which must be addressed by the G20 countries in order to increase financial transparency, tackle foreign bribery and make stolen asset recovery measures more effective.

Finally, the participants of the meeting came to an agreement about six points that shall be submitted to the next session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), with a special focus on demands to open up the UNCAC review process to civil society participation.

A full summary of the results from the Annual Membership Meeting is available in the text Working together towards change, published on TI’s website. Some of the resolutions are already available on the same webpage.

Mass Investigation Against Police Officers in Mexico

The northern Mexican city of Linares has begun to investigate its entire police force for corruption and connections to criminal groups. The decision to conduct the investigation was triggered by an increase in kidnapping and extortion occurrences in the city.

According to the town’s mayor, Francisco Quintanilla, over 100 city police officers were transported by bus to another town, where they will be held in custody while the investigation is running. In the meantime, Linares will be patrolled by soldiers and state police officers.

Read the full article Mexico city’s police force held for investigation on hosted.ap.org. The picture shown above is from mexico.cnn.com.

TI Bosnia & Herzegovina Comments on Eu Report

Transparency International’s National Chapter in Bosnia & Herzegovina published last week a press release commenting on a report on the country’s progress in anti-corruption, published by the European Commission. The report showed a disappointing picture about anti-corruption measures in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and pointed out in particular that political will to improve control of corruption is lacking.

According to the report, insufficient enforcement of anti-corruption legislation is one of the main obstacles to fighting corruption more effectively. Additionally, the anti-corruption legal framework still lacks harmonization across levels of government. The assessment for 2011 reiterated some problems already identified in the reports published in previous years, such as inefficiencies in the Judiciary that contribute to delay the prosecution of corruption cases.

Among the report’s recommendations was the need for a more precise and thorough regulatory framework for political party financing and stricter enforcement of the legislation in this area.

Read the full text Step backward in fight against corruption available on TI-Bosnia & Herzegovina’s website.

Ukrainian Opposition Leader Yulia Tymoshenko Convicted

Former Ukranian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (pictured here) has been sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of abuse of power regarding a gas deal with Russia in 2009. Ms. Tymoshenko claimed that the accusations against her were politically motivated and that she will appeal against her conviction and take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

In addition to the jail sentence, the judge determined that Ms. Tymoshenko must reimburse the state in $186 million, equivalent to the alleged financial damage caused by the gas agreement. She was also banned from public office for three years.

The verdict was seen with critical eyes by Russia and the European Union. According to a EU representative, the outcome of the case should hurt Ukraine’s aspirations to EU-membership.

Read the full article Ukraine ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko jailed over gas deal on bbc.co.uk. The picture of Ms. Tymoshenko shown above is from rt.com and is credited to AFP.

Corruption and the Oil Industry

An article published on the Ecologist explores the topic of corruption in oil-rich countries. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, many of the largest oil producers and exporters are ranked quite low, some of them at the very bottom. What lies behind this connection?

The text mentions how many oil-rich countries continue to have alarming levels of poverty and income inequality, despite decades of high revenues originating from the resource sector. An example is Nigeria, where there is evidence that foreign oil companies maintained close relationships with the military government to protect their interests.

Another example of links between oil production and corruption is the fact that national oil companies, which control exploitation in many countries, are commonly among the least transparent state institutions. Lack of disclosure about revenues coming from oil exploitation can moreover give way to corruption by allowing elites to appropriate resources without being checked by any watchdogs.

Finally, the article mentions an initiative that is expected to bring some change to this sector, namely the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which binds signatories to implement measures for the disclosure of public funds coming from oil, gas and mining exploitation, both from public and private companies. However, only 35 countries have joined the initiative, and some important players still resist taking part in it.

Read the full article How oil and corruption have become so closely linked on theecologist.org. The pictured portrayed above is also featured in the article.

Afghan Government Lax on Corruption Investigations

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (pictured here) has publicly committed to fighting corruption in the country, but data on corruption investigations during his government put the credibility of his pledge into question. Since the creation of an anti-corruption task force in 2009, 2,000 investigations have begun, but no high-level government official has been prosecuted on corruption charges so far.

The recent closing of an important bribery investigation against Abu Bakr, former governor of Kapisa province and very influential politician, reinforces the perception that the Afghan government is not doing as much as it should to curb graft. According to a senior US official, two prosecutors involved in the investigation against Mr. Bakr have been demoted or transferred to remote locations.

Read the full article Afghanistan obstructs graft probes on hosted.ap.org. The picture of Mr. Karzai shown above is from guardian.co.uk and is credited to Shah Marai, AFP and Getty Images.

South Sudan Government Plans Clean up in Public Service

Deputy Information Minister of South Sudan, Atem Yaak Atem, has declared that the government of the newly independent state plans to substitute the majority of the country’s civil servants due to irregularities in their appointments. According to Mr. Atem, around 65% of all civil servants are unqualified and may have falsified their educational credentials to be eligible for public positions.

In the Ministry of Labor and Public Service, for instance, 21 senior employees who have forged academic degrees have already been identified. Mr. Atem mentioned that the government intends to pursue the prosecution of individuals in this situation under charges of fraud.

This is part of the government’s promise to fight corruption in the country. Other anti-corruption measures already announced include requirements for public officials to disclose information about their finances and strengthened regulations of land transactions.

Read the full article South Sudan to Clean Up Civil Service, Oust Unqualified Workers on bloomberg.com.

Head of Serbian Watchdog Discusses National Anti-Corruption Strategy

Zorana Marković, director of Serbia’s Anti-Corruption Agency, discussed in an interview last week the country’s accomplishments with its anti-corruption policies until now and the challenges that still remain and that shall be tackled by a new anti-corruption strategy for the next five years.

According to Ms. Marković, Serbia has been able to establish a strong legal framework to fight corruption and has put fundamental institutions in place to address the problem. Nevertheless, she pointed out that these institutions are still too weak to guarantee the enforcement of the existing anti-corruption legislation. Therefore the anti-corruption strategy for 2011-2016 to be presented to Parliament later this year focusses strongly on strengthening the already functioning structure in order to improve the government’s anti-corruption efforts.

Ms. Marković mentioned yet another important challenge that remains with regards to fighting corruption, namely the lack of whistleblower protection legislation. The proposition of such legislation will also be a priority for the anti-corruption agency in the near future.

Read the full article Serbia readies for long struggle against corruption on euractiv.com.

Czech Education Ministry’s Tender Investigated

The Czech Ministry of Education has been raided by the country’s anti-corruption police unit as part of an investigation on a large public tender for the delivery of a database to monitor public funds spent on research and development projects. The tender was still being prepared by the Ministry and was to be issued next month.

The investigators did not disclose what suspicions motivated the action. Analysts quoted by a national newspaper that reported the case mentioned that concerns about this tender might be related to a possible attempt to tailor the tender proposal in order to suit a certain provider, or to artificially raise the value of the contract.

A statement released by the Minister of Education, Josef Dobes, said that the police investigation refers to a contract from 2007 for the delivery of software services for research and development, which allegedly expired last September. Mr. Dobes claims that he opposed the extension of the old contract against the advice of ministry officials and decided to prepare a new tender for such services. He also declared that the tender is suspended until the investigation is concluded.

Read the full article Czech anti-corruption police raid Education Ministry on ceskapozice.cz. The picture shown above is also featured in the article.

World Bank and Olaf Sign Cooperation Agreement

A new cooperation agreement has been established between the World Bank’s Integrity Vice-Presidency (INT) and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) with the objective of combating fraud and corruption in development aid more effectively. This agreement represents the first step in implementing a decision taken by both institutions last May, during the 12th Conference of International Investigators in Washington, where they agreed to enhance operational cooperation between the two services.

The agreement regards mainly cooperation efforts related to exchange of information and the conduction of joint investigations and strategic analyses. It also foresees exchange of staff and cooperation in training activities.

Leonard McCarthy, World Bank’s Integrity Vice President, highlighted that both institutions already have a strong alliance based on their shared interest in fighting illegal activities.

Read the full press release World Bank and OLAF step up efforts to jointly combat fraud and corruption in development aid on europa.eu.

2011 Bribe Payers Index Launched

Transparency International (TI) released last Wednesday its Bribe Payers Index (BPI), which ranks 28 leading exporting countries according to the likelihood of their companies to pay bribes abroad. The index is based on a survey with 3,000 business executives from developing and developed countries.

The index shows that firms from Russia and China are considered to be the most likely to bribe abroad, whereas companies from the Netherlands and Switzerlan are the least likely to pay bribes in foreign countries.

The survey results used to produce the index also revealed that bribery by firms in foreign countries is a widespread practice. They commonly take place between companies and public officials and aim at securing public tenders, avoiding regulation or influencing governments policies. Particularly vulnerable to bribery are the public works and construction sector and the extractive industries. The study also shows that companies are just as likely to bribe other companies.

An article by Deborah Hardoon posted on TI’s blog discusses the survey’s results into more detail and compares each country’s BPI scores with their Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) scores and their volume of exports and investments abroad, thereby contextualizing their economic impact.

Another post on TI’s blog also discusses Russia’s having the lowest score among all 28 countries. According to Elena Panfilova, TI Russia’s Director, the Russian government has adopted many pieces of legislation to fight corruption in recent years, but the main problem lies in insufficient enforcement of those laws.

Read TI’s press release Companies from emerging giants China and Russia most likely to bribe abroad on transparency.org. The picture featured above is from themalaysianinsider.com.

India’s Anti-Corruption Movement Faces Internal Crisis

A group of anti-corruption activists led by Anna Hazare has created much commotion around India’s anti-corruption bill, but now they are drawing attention for other reasons, such as internal disagreements and questionable moves by some of its members.

Since Mr. Hazare and other allies recently campaigned against India’s ruling party in a by-election in Haryana state, some of the group’s leading activists have withdrawn their support from the anti-corruption campaign. According to Rajendra Singh and PV Rajagopal, two activists that decided to leave Mr. Hazare’s team, internal democracy in his group is lacking.

Meanwhile, doubts have arisen regarding the so-called movement’s cohesion and representativeness. Mr. Hazare’s team has shown signs that it is not as well organized as everyone thought, and other groups in the Indian society have shown some degree of distrust in what Hazare stands for. The question that remains is whether his campaign will be able to keep enough support from the population for the months to come.

Read the full article Will India’s anti-corruption campaign implode? on bbc.co.uk. The picture shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to the Associated Press (AP).

New Website Adds Transparency to Mining Sector in Dr Congo

The Carter Center has launched a website to make information about the mining sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo available to the general public. The new webpage (www.congomines.org), which includes data on hundreds of contracts and payments related to mining activities, is part of the Center’s project to improve mining governance in the country.

The initiative aims at providing relevant actors and watchdogs with information about the sector which could not be accessed otherwise. It attempts to directly tackle the longstanding lack of transparency that has been characteristic of this sector, which represents a significant part of the country’s economy. This problem became particularly evident earlier this year, when secret deals on the property of former state-owned mines came to light.

Read the full article DR Congo mining transparency site launched on bbc.co.uk. The picture shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to AFP.

Egypt’s Anti-Corruption Law Awaits Ratification

Deputy Minister for Political Development Ali al-Selmi declared yesterday that the current Egyptian government is expected to ratify in the next days an anti-corruption law that restricts the political rights of individuals convicted for corruption-related crimes.

Following the revolution that led to the end of Hosni Mubarak’s rule in the country, the law was conceived as an attempt to keep Mubarak’s former allies, many of which are now facing corruption charges, of running in the next elections for Parliament, to take place on November 28th.

Read the full article Egypt to ratify anti-corruption law in days-minister on trust.org. The picture shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to Reuters.

Sri Lanka to Expose Candidates Who Withheld Asset Data

Sri Lanka’s Electoral authority announced today that it will make public the names of elected candidates who failed to disclose their assets after the last local elections on October 8th. According to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, those candidates shall also be investigated by the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC).

Regulation for asset disclosure by elected candidates was implemented for the first time in this year’s elections. Based on a directive by the Electoral Commissioner, elected candidates were required to declare their assets and liabilities to local authorities before the end of October. However, the country still lacks legislation to make asset disclosure mandatory to all candidates.

Read the full text Members who have not declared their assets to be exposed on tisrilanka.org.

Former Aide of Bjp Leader Lk Advani Arrested

Sudheendra Kulkarni (pictured here), former aide of prominent opposition leader LK Advani, has been arrested on accusations of involvement in the ‘cash for votes’ scandal that was uncovered in March. This is the sixth arrest related to the case, in which MP Amar Singh is believed to have offered cash to other legislators in exchange from their abstention in a 2008 confidence vote in Parliament.

According to the police, Mr. Kulkarni is believed to have planned the scheme and to have approached Mr. Singh in order to convince him to take part in it. Mr. Kulkarni claims that he persuaded Mr. Singh, a member of a coalition party, to offer bribes to MPs in the opposition, but his ultimate objective was to expose corruption within the government.

For the full story on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Mr. Kulkarni is also featured in the article and is credited to Press Trust of India (PTI).

Unodc Launches Anti-Corruption Resource Portal

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched last week the online anti-corruption platform TRACK (Tools and Resources for Anti-Corruption Knowledge). The new portal concentrates information on anti-corruption at a single location, thereby facilitating access to useful resources by the anti-corruption community as a whole.

A main feature of TRACK is the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) legal library, a database of legislation and jurisprudence from more than 175 countries, organized according to their relevance with regards to individual UNCAC articles. The website also offers anti-corruption practitioners and experts a space to communicate initiatives and share knowledge and information.

For more information, please access the article available at the UNODc website here.