The Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) (logo pictured here) and Transparency International (TI) launched a new anti-corruption campaign at an event at the Press Federation in Beirut yesterday. The campaign, entitled Time to Wake Up, is a global initiative by TI and will be piloted in Lebanon and other four countries.
The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness among citizens about the costs of corruption and to motivate people to fight it. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will be used in parallel to other resources specific to each country.
According to LTA’s Chairman Gerard Zovighian, Lebanon faces widespread political and administrative corruption with devasting economic and social consequences. He also called attention for the impact of corruption as a trigger to protests and revolutions in other Arab countries, and mentioned that it is time for Lebanon to put an end to corruption as well.
For the full article on dailystar.com.lb, please click here.
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.
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.
The 2014 World Cup, to take place in Brazil, is already expected to be the most expensive in history, with estimated costs of $13 billion. For brazilian public prosecutors and anti-corruption watchdogs, however, this amount is likely to be even higher, as preparations for the event show a trend of overspending and potential misuse of public funds.
According to Athayde Ribeiro da Costa, chief prosecutor in the state of Amazonas and head of a group of 12 prosecutors working on cases related to World Cup projects, there are over 80 civil investigations under way to verify possible abuses in major construction projects related to the event. One of the main concerns regards the inobservance of public contracting procedures.
For the full story on economictimes.indiatimes.com, please click here. The original article is credited to Reuters. The picture above is from telegraph.co.uk.
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.
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.
After demonstrations in Amman, Jordan’s Parliament has decided to postpone the discussion of a bill that criminalizes corruption allegations. The bill has already been endorsed by the Lower House and was expected to pass today at a meeting in the Senate.
The bill raised much criticism from the media, lawyers and the opposition because of article 23, which establishes fines between $42,000 and $85,000 to those who accuse others of corruption without presenting proof. The Jordan Bar Association considers the article to be unconstitutional.
Although no date has been establish to resume the discussion on the proposition, government officials said that a new meeting is likely to take place in one month.
For the full article on middle-east-online.com, please click here. The picture above is also featured in the original article.
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.
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.
Ivo Sanader (pictured here), Croatia’s former Prime Minister, appeared in court today to hear a confirmation of his indictment, a necessary step for the judges to proceed and formally start his trial on corruption charges. He is accused of abuse of office when he was deputy foreign minister in 1995.
Mr. Sanader allegedly received around $646,000 in bribes from the Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria, in exchange for facilitating a loan deal between the Croatian government and the bank, and also for facilitating its access to the Croatian financial market.
He has also been indicted under the accusation of taking bribes from the Hungarian energy group MOL, in return for enabling the company to obtain a dominant position in the Croatian oil and gas company INA. Mr. Sanader is the target of other four investigations on corruption.
For the full story on reuters.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Sanader shown above is from nzz.ch and is credited to Reuters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (pictured here) has made public a number of initiatives that the government plans to undertake in order to fight corruption in the country. Among the measures to be implemented are new laws for public contracting and disclosure requirements for public officials’ assets and earnings.
Mr. Kiir also said that embezzlement accusations will be investigated and the results of those investigations will be transparent to the public. In addition to that, the government also intends to appoint senior advisors from other countries in the region and to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission that is already in place.
For the full article on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Mr. Kiir shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
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.
Issa Hayatou (pictured here), president of the Confederaiton of African Football and appointed by FIFA to head the organizing committee for the football tournament in the 2012 Olympic Games, is being investigated by the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission over corruption accusations.
The investigation was triggered by corruption allegations broadcasted during BBC’s Panorama program in 2010. According to their report, Hayatou received payments from ISL, a former marketing partner of FIFA during the 1990s. Hayatou has denied the accusations.
For the full article on guardian.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Mr. Hayatou is also featured in the article and is credited to European Pressphoto Agency (EPA).
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.
The Italian Parliament has denied a request by the state prosecution to arrest representative Marco Milanese (pictured here), accused of involvement in a corruption case while working as a political advisor for Finance Minister Guido Tremonti.
Milanese resigned from his position in the Ministry of Finance in June, after being accused of revealing confidential information in exchange for financial advantages. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Tremonti has been caught up in the scandal as it came to light the he had been paying Milanese informally to use his apartment in Rome.
For the full article by the Associated Press, please click here. The picture of Mr. Milanese is from lettera43.it.
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.