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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Government Announces Anti-Corruption Measures

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).

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.

Head of 2012 Olympic Football Tournament Investigated

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).

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.

Parliament Rejects Request to Lift Mp Immunity

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.

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.

Bbc Report Points to Boxing Match-Fixing in 2012 Olympics

The BBC program Newsnight has reported evidence of payments from Azerbaijan to the World Series Boxing (WSB) to secure the country with two gold medals in the boxing tournament in the 2012 Olympic Games. The information came from whistleblowers from within WSB.

According to one of the whistleblowers, the deal was motivated by financial difficulties faced by WSB in the United States. The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA), responsible for the organization of the boxing competition at the Olympic Games, has admitted that it has received the sum of $9 million from an Azeri individual to one of the competitions. However, they have denied that the money was associated with a deal to manipulate the competition. Lawyers representing AIBA and WSB claim that the money came from a private Azeri investor.

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

Anti-Corruption Draft Law Passed by Cabinet

Kuwait’s Government passed yesterday an Anti-Corruption draft law that will now be sent to the head of state and the Parliament. The draft includes provisions on crimes such as financial disclosure, money laundering, manipulation of public contracting procedures and bribery, among others. The bill foresees the creation of an independent anti-corruption body.

The measure follows an assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that pointed out weaknesses in the national legal framework to combat money laundering. Last week, a protest by around 2,000 people in the capital also called for measures against corruption in the government.

For the full article on arabtimesonline.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).

Report Shows Alarming Picture of Corruption in Iraq

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) published yesterday a report about the political situation in Iraq in recent years. The assessment shows that, although the current government has managed to reduce violence in the country, it has contributed to increased and widespread corruption.

According to the document, public services are characterized by deep-rooted corruption and anti-corruption institutions in the country are pray to political interference and manipulation. Additionally, the Judiciary is also portrayed as vulnerable to political pressure. The report refers to common cases of embezzlement, bribery and nepotism as well.

The analysis by ICG also emphasizes the negative impact of the situation in hampering growth and development. The policy recommendations stated in the report include a stronger anti-corruption framework, disclosure requirements for political party financing and reforms to the legislative process.

For the full article on thenational.ae, please click here. The picture above is also featured in the article 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).

17 Traffic Police Officers Arrested on Corruption Charges

A special operation conducted by the Sofia City Prosecutor’s office arrested today 17 traffic police officers accused of corruption and of operating an organized crime group. The operation resulted from several months of investigation.

According to a report by Bulgarian National Televesion, the investigation started after a large number of complaints against traffic police officers were filed. The investigation showed that the accused commonly split the collected bribes among the group after the end of the work shift. The evidence against them includes also recorded images of officers receiving bribes.

For the full article on sofiaecho.com, please click here. The picture above is also featured in the article.

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.

International Right to Know Day Celebrated Today

Freedom of Information activists around the world celebrate today the International Right to Know Day (logo pictured here). The date was first established in 2003 by the Freedom of Information Advocates Network, as a way to promote and raise awareness about citizens’ right to information.

An article by Andrea Figari posted on Transparency International’s blog makes use of this occasion to discuss the topic. According to the article, seven countries have passed freedom of information laws in the last year, and in other 18 countries bills on the subject are currently under consideration.

The author also refers to a number of successful initiatives that have been implemented by governments and civil society organizations in several countries. More recent projects are also mentioned, for instance regarding efforts to increase transparency about allocation of development aid and the recently launched Open Government Partnership also adds to the list.

For the full article on blog.transparency.org, please click 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.

New Anti-Corruption Campaign Launched in Beirut

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.