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).

TI Slovakia Launches Sports and Culture Subsidy Database

Transparency International’s Slovakian Chapter launched yesterday a website (granty.transparency.sk) that compiles information on state subsidies to sports and culture projects, allocated by the Ministries of Education and Culture, the Audiovisual Fund and the Cabinet Office between 2004 and 2010. Users can access data on over 30,000 grants.

The organization highlighted that around €60 million are spent each year in such subsidies, but the government does not offer easily accessible information on where exactly the money goes. The initiative tries to fill this gap and centralize the data in one portal.

For the full article on spectator.sme.sk, please click here.

President Swears in Anti-Corruption Commission Members

Yesterday Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (pictured here) swore in the nine members of the country’s newly created anti-corruption commission. The commissioners come from various fields such as administration, law, religion and law enforcement.

The commission was created by President Mugabe in fulfillment of a clause in the coalition deal struck with former opposition leader and present Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after the disputed 2008 elections. Also as a result of this political compromise, Mugabe has already set up commissions in charge of human rights, media and electoral issues.

For the full story on iol.co.za, please click here. The picture of Mr. Mugabe shown above is also featured in the original article and credited to AFP.

Ex-President Chirac’s Trial Begins

Former President Jacques Chirac’s (pictured here) trial on embezzlement charges began today in his absence. Chirac’s lawyers presented a report stating that his health condition did not allow him to attend the trial.

He is accused in two separate charges of paying party members and supporters through ghost jobs in Paris’s municipal administration when he was mayor (1977-1995). Chirac has denied all accusations. If convicted, he could be sentenced to prison and a fine in the amount of 150,000 euros.

For the full article on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Mr. Chirac shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to Reuters.

Ex-Chancellor Resigns As Mp After Corruption Scandal

Former Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel (pictured here) stated today that he intended to resign as Member of Parliament due to allegations of his association to the corruption scandal involving Telekom Austria. Schuessel’s resignation should be effective by the end of the week.

Schuessel was Chancellor between 2000 and 2007 and has been accused of involvement with slush fund payments from companies, among which Telekom Austria, to politicians during his government.

In a press conference, he claimed that his resignation was not an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, and said that it was necessary to allow investigations to proceed independently and without political influence.

For the full article on reuters.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Schuessel portrayed above is from focus.de and is credited to Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Eu Proposes Report to Monitor Anti-Corruption Policies in Member Countries

The European Commission has proposed to adopt an Anti-Corruption Report to monitor members’ efforts in implementing and enforcing EU anti-corruption legislation. The Report would be published biannually starting in 2013 and would be used as a means of identifying vulnerabilities in specific countries and assisting them in improving their anti-corruption policies.

Members of the European Parliament supported the idea, but claimed that a first report should be published earlier than the schedule announced by the Commission. They also highlighted that EU legislation against corruption still needs tightening in areas such as whistle-blower protection and anti-bribery provisions.

For the full article on neurope.eu, please click here.

Police Criticize Iss Report on Corruption

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has issued a statement criticizing a report on police corruption recently published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). The report was distributed last week at the launch of a campaign by ISS to promote professionalism in the police.

McIntosh Polela, spokesman for the SAPS, claimed that the report did not take into account important recent achivements that the corporation has made in fighting corruption. He highlighted the role of National Commissioner Bheki Cele in curbing corruption among SAPS officials.

The ISS report was based on statistics published by the SAPS and interviews to assess the situation of corruption within the police force. It concluded that corruption in the serviceki remains a problem, but is not systemic. Moreover it emphasized the need for an independent anti-corruption unit in the Police and for safe mechanisms for internal reporting of corruption cases.

For the full article on iol.co.za, please click here.

Norwegian Aid to Afghanistan Frozen Due to Corruption

The Norwegian government has decided to suspend aid flows to Afghanistan following the crisis around Kabul Bank, which almost went bankrupt last year as a result of mismanagement and cronyism. The scandal also brought to light that many high-level bank officials, including President Hamid Karzai’s brother, profited from over $900 million in loans that were never repaid.

According to Norwegian Deputy Foreing Minister Espen Barth Eide, a main reason for the decision to freeze aid disbursements was the lack of governance in the Afghan government. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has similarly announced it will freeze financial aid to Afghanistan until the situation with Kabul Bank is settled.

For the full article on Voice of America, please click here. The picture above is from rawa.org and is credited to European Pressphoto Agency (EPA).

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.

Brazilians March Against Corruption on Independence Day

Independence Day celebrations in Brazil were accompanied by rallies against corruption in several major cities, including the capital Brasilia. Protesters painted their faces, wore clown noses and took buckets and mops outside government buildings to express their discontent with recent corruption scandals.

Some demonstrators showed support to President Roussef’s pledge to wash away corruption from the government. Since her term began in January, three ministers have resigned over corruption accusations.

The so-called ‘March against Corruption’ had no association with specific political parties and was organized through the use of social media. The protests were supported by several civil society organizations, including Brazil’s College of Lawyers, the Brazilian Press Association and the National Bishop’s Conference.

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

New Corruption Allegations Target Members of Parliament

A new corruption scandal involving a large number of representatives may lead to a significant political crisis in Kuwait. Recent media reports revealed that several banks disclosed to the state prosecution that over a dozen of Members of Parliament and also former ministers received suspicious cash deposits into their accounts.

The scandal emerged as Al-Qabas newspaper reported that two MPs had received the equivalent to $92 million in cash deposits. According to the article, the deposits were payments in exchange for political support in important voting in Parliament.

Opposition members and activists against the current government are expected to use this case in order to build momentum for demands to dissolve Parliament.

For the full article on dailystar.com.lb, please click here.

Corrupt Official’s Property Used As School

Indian Bihar State has implemented a new law to recover assets that may have originated from corrupt acts. The case of a senior civil servant accused of corruption is a good illustration: his property in the state capital Patna has been confiscated by the government and his three-story house has been transformed into a school for slum children.

The decision is founded on the Bihar Special Courts Act from 2009, which gave the state government the authority to confiscate assets of officials charged with corruption even before they are convicted. According to a government official, however, the state has to return all possessions to their owners with 5% interest in case they are acquitted.

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

Supreme Court Justice Investigated for Corruption

The National Judicial Council will start an investigation on a Supreme Court Justice’s alleged involvement in an attempt to manipulate election results in Delta State. The Justice, whose name has not been disclosed, is believed to have acted in order to influence the election for the State House of Assembly with the objective of benefiting a relative.

The investigation was triggered by a petition filed on August 26th by a group associated with the Niger Delta Restoration Forum.

For the full article on vanguardngr.com, please click here.

Government Launches New Anti-Corruption Program

The Chinese government has launched this month a new program to curb corruption. The program will consist of a system to closely monitor travel by public officials and their families and also asset transfers to other countries. The new strategy aims at stopping corrupt officials from fleeing the country.

The program is planned to last one year and will be implemented in 10 regions, according to information published on the website of the Ministry of Supervision. This Ministry is responsible for investigations on violations of administrative rules by government officials.

For the full article on huffingtonpost.com, please click here. The picture above is from bbc.co.uk and is credited to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

New Corruption Allegations Against Chirac

Lawyer Robert Bourgi declared in an interview to the Journal de Dimanche last Sunday that former President Jacques Chirac and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin (pictured here) received about $20 million from several African heads-of-government to finance political campaigns.

Bourgi, known for facilitating contact between African and French political leaders, claims to have been personally involved in delivering cash to Mr. Chirac and Mr. de Villepin. He mentioned that the money was in part used to finance Chirac’s 2002 election campaign.

For the full article on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Mr. Chirac and Mr. de Villepin shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

New Website Monitors Election Violations

Only a few weeks before the next presidential and local elections on October 23rd, Bulgarian citizens can now use a new website to report election violations such as vote buying, fraud and voter intimidation. The webpage For Fair Elections (logo pictured here) was launched last Saturday by the Institute for Public Environment Development.

Presented at the seminar Elections 2011 – Mobilizing Institutions and Citizens for Honest and Free Election Process, the website allows users to report irregularities through social media platforms, e-mail or phone. The location of each occurence is then marked on a map. The project also expects Bulgarian citizens abroad to report violations that they might experience.

For the full story on novinite.com, please click here. The website For Fair Elections can be accessed here.

Anti-Corruption Efforts in Sierra Leone Have Improved, Says Acc Commissioner

In an interview to the TrustLaw website, Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) member Joseph Kamara (pictured here) talked about the contribution of recent policies to fight corruption and about how this issue is connected to historical and cultural factors experienced in the country.

Kamara highlighted that the creation of a centralized Anti-Corruption Commission has had a very positive impact on the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone. In his opinion, because the ACC is empowered by the Anti-Corruption Act to prosecute its own cases, it has been able to combat corruption more effectively than the Attorney-General did before.

He also discussed the importance of efforts to change the general cultural construct that associates corrupt behavior with being smart and making use of available opportunities. Kamara mentioned a new anti-corruption education program that aims at sensitizing the population about the harmful impact of corruption and changing the overall perception of corruption as acceptable.

For the full article on trust.org, please click here. The picture of Mr. Kamara above is from Sierra Express Media.

Eu Parliament Lifts Immunity of Austrian Representative

The European Parliament has decided today in favor of waiving the parliamentary immunity of Austrian representative Hans-Peter Martin (pictured here), who has been accused of embezzling election campaign subsidies.

Following this decision, Austrian prosecutors will be able to open an investigation against Martin. The accusations against him came from another EU legislator, who claimed that Martin used about one million euros of election funds for private purposes.

For the full article on monstersandcritics.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Martin is from noen.at.

Church Leaders Charged With Embezzlement and Money Laundering

São Paulo’s Public Prosecutor filed yesterday charges of embezzlement and money laundering against three leaders of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, one of Brazil’s most prominent evangelical churches. According to the accusation, they have laundered and used for private purposes hundreds of millions obtained through donations by church followers.

The prosecution claims that the accused used offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Jersey to channel the money out of country. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is known for its association with important media outlets in Brazil and its ostentatious temples.

For the full story on guardian.co.uk, please click here. The picture above is from panoramio.com.

Philippines Companies Sign Integrity Pact

Philippine companies have signed today an integrity pledge with government agencies. The measure is part of recent anti-corruption efforts by the government, aiming at ultimately improving the business environment in the country.

Close to 700 firms, including major national and multinational corporations, took part in the agreement to promote and abide by ethical and business standards.

President Aquino reminded businessmen who took part in the initiative that the pledge was not enough to fight corruption, and that they had also to do their part and refrain from tax evasion.

For the full article on reuters.com, please click here. The picture above is from the website of the Philippine House of Representatives.

Steel Magnate Convicted on Graft Charges

The Egyptian Justice decided today to find steel magnate Ahmed Ezz (pictured here) guilty of graft accusations associated to the period when he occupied senior positions during Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Mr. Ezz was sentenced to 10 years in jail and almost $111 million in fines.

Involved in the same case were also two other former government officials. Amr Assal, who used to be the head of Egypt’s Industrial Development Authority, was convicted and received the same sentence as Ezz. Former Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid was also found guilty of the same charges and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 1.4 billion Egyptian pounds.

All three defendants were accused of collaborating in a scheme to issue licenses without paying the corresponding fees. The licenses that were issued illegally were revoked by the judge’s decision.

For the full article on reuters.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Ezz shown above is from arabianbusiness.com.

Former Mayor of Bogota Charged With Corruption

Samuel Moreno (pictured here), former mayor of Bogota, has been formally charged with corruption crimes such as embezzlement and extortion. He has been under investigation for public contracting fraud.

According to the prosecution, many companies who financed his campaign to the mayor office and his brother’s campaign to Congress won several bids for construction contracts with Bogota’s administration after the election. Samuel and Ivan Moreno denied all accusations.

For the full article from the Associated Press, please click here. The picture of Mr. Moreno shown above is from semana.com.

Investigation Uncovers Fraud in over 40 Contracts

An investigation conducted by South Africa’s Department of Public Works, in partnership with the police’s Special Investigation Unit, uncovered irregularities in over 40 contracts worth around $390 million.

The results of investigation will lead to criminal charges against officials involved in the awarding of the contracts under suspicion of fraud. Among the problems identified by the investigators are irregular expenditure, false book keeping and other corruption crimes.

For the full article on bloomberg.com, please click here.

Open Government Partnership Project Launched Today

The Open Government Partnership initiative, initially conceived by US President Barack Obama to promote global transparency, was officially launched today in New York. 46 countries have already joined the project, chaired by United States, Brazil and other six governments and nine non-governmental organizations.

Each government’s participation in the initiative entails a commitment to increase transparency, civic participation and access to new technologies, which are to be achieved through the implementation of a plan of action developed through broad consultations. The project also foresees the publication of self-assessment by each government on an yearly basis.

Countries can voluntarily join the project, but must fulfill a set of criteria concerning issues such as fiscal transparency, freedom of access to information and citizen participation.

For the full article on the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project website, please click here.