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.

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.

Former Pm Sanader Appears in Court

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.

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.

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.

Institute for Security Studies Releases Conflict of Interest Database

The Institute for Security Studies (logo pictured here) launched last Friday (August 5th) the Who Owns What Database, which includes information on South African public office holders’ financial interests outside their public occupations.

According to Collette Schulz-Herzenberg, a senior researcher at the institute, the majority of Cabinet Members and Members of Parliament have financial interests not linked to their positions in government, such as directorships of companies.

The database was composed with information from 9000 disclosure records completed by public officials from various governmental bodies between 2004 and 2010.

For the full article on Business Day, please click here.

Anti-Corruption Campaigner Arrested

Anna Hazare (pictured here), the anti-corruption activist that has been leading a popular movement in favor of a stricter anti-graft law in India, was arrested this Tuesday. After the arrest was made public, thousands of his supporters protested in Delhi and about 1,300 were also detained by the police.

Hazare had declared that he intended to initiate a hunger strike today, as a means to pressure the government to adopt stricter anti-corruption measures. The police justified the arrests by claiming that Hazare’s fast and the demonstrations associated with it did not respect the conditions imposed earlier.

Even after the government ordered his release, Hazare refused to leave and began a hunger strike inside jail, demanding that his original protest be allowed. Later today other regions of the country also saw public protests against the government due to his arrest.

For the full article on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Mr. Hazare shown above is from The Guardian and is credited to Reuters.

Anti-Corruption Agency Not Effective Against Corrupt Politicians

The international NGO Human Rights Watch has published a report about the work of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the country’s anti-corruption agency, and has concluded that the Commission has not been able to punish corrupt politicians effectively since 2002, when it was created.

The report, entitled ‘Corruption in Trial?’, shows that the EFCC has so far prosecuted only 30 politicians and convicted four of them, but none of them are serving jail time. Nevertheless, the document also points out that the EFCC has been more successful in recovering stolen funds and in tackling private sector corruption as well.

For the full story on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture above is also featured in the article and is credited to Getty Images. The report by Human Rights Watch can be accessed here.

Opposition Leader Accused of Corruption

Bangladeshi opposition leader Khaleda Zia has been accused by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of acquiring wealth exceeding her disclosed income.

According to the ACC, Ms. Zia has purchased land for a charity institution with resources that are not accounted for by her known sources of income.

In Ms. Zia’s defense opposition members have argued that ACC’s investigations are not politically impartial and claim that the charges against her are unfounded.

Her son, Tarique Rahman, is also being charged for money-laundering and an arrest warrant has been issued against him.

For the full story on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Ms. Zia shown above is featured in the article and is credited to the Associated Press (AP).

Ac Act Restrictions Kill Graft Case

Last Monday all graft charges were dropped against former Minister of Works and Transport, Dorothea Ngozu, arrested in 2009 for illegally subletting her government residence to over 20 people between 2005 and 2009.

According to the magistrate in charge of the case, there was illegal involvement by the Namibian Police in the investigation. The argument was founded in the fact that the accusations against Ngozu fall within the scope of the Anti-Corruption Act, which specificies that only appointed investigators may conduct procedures under the Act.

However, Ngozu was arrested and investigated by the local Police in Swakopmund, which was not authorized to execute searches in pursuit of graft accusations. As a consequence, the entire investigation against her was rendered illegal.

For the full story on The Namibian, please click here.

Former President Chen Has Jail Term Extended

In a retrial on corruption charges against ex-president Chen Shui-bian (pictured here), Taiwan’s high court sentenced him to two years and eight months in prison, therefore extending his total jail term to 20 years. Chen has been in prison since 2009.

This sentence is related to a case in which Chen was accused of embezzling around $5 million from a special presidential fund while in power. The court acquitted him of the corruption charges, but found him guilty of money-laundering and forgery.

For the full article on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture above is also featured in the article and is credited to Agence France-Presse.

Former President Barred from Travelling Due to Corruption Investigation

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (pictured here) has been barred from travelling abroad by the current government due to corruption accusations against her. Her name shall remain in the immigration watch list for 60 days, but this period may be extended later.

Arroyo is currently a member of Congress and is accused of illegally using government funds to finance her 2004 election campaign. Prosecutors are still analyzing the case to see if there is enough evidence for an indictment.

For the full article by the Associated Press, please click here. The picture of Ms. Arroyo is from the Council of Women World Leaders website.

Former Chief Justice Calls for Uncac Enforcement

Sarath N. Silva (pictured here), former Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, called attention to the need for better enforcement of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in Sri Lanka.

Silva made such remarks while speaking at the launch of Voice Against Corruption, an anti-corruption organization founded by the leftist party JVP.

Additionally, he highlighted that Sri Lanka was the second country to ratify the Convention, in 2004, and consequently has an obligation to pursue the effective implementation of UNCAC.

For the full article on colombopage.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Silva shown above is from lankatruth.com.

I Paid a Bribe Project Launches Round Table on Corruption

The Indian website ‘I Paid a Bribe’ (logo pictured here), an initiative of the non-profit organization Janaagraha, launched last week a roundtable discussion entitled ‘Straight Talk – Candour on Corruption’, addresing the Lokpal Bill and the current anti-corruption movement in India.

Among the participants were prominent local journalists, the civil society activist Nikhil De and former Lokayukta for Karnakata State, Justice Santosh Hedge. A video with the entire debate can be accessed here.

‘I Paid a Bribe’ is a project that collects testimonies of individuals who have experienced corruption in India, and allows them to report details about situations in which they were asked for bribes by public officials. The objective of the project is to use to data to identify patterns that may support later advocacy work in favor of changes to reduce corruption in government procedures.

Another interesting initiative of the website are the Satyameva Jayate Awards, which invite Indian citizens to propose measures againt corruption. Ideas may be submitted until September 20th, and the winner will be announced on October 2nd. For more information, please click here.

Towards Transparency Releases Youth Integrity Report

The organization Towards Transparency, currently the official contact of Transparency International in Vietnam, released today the report Youth Integrity in Vietnam, which reveals the results of the Youth Integrity Survey carried out in the country in 2010.

The survey questioned 1,022 young individuals between 15 and 30 years of age across 11 urban and rural provinces. A control sample of 519 adults over 30 years of age was also used in the methodology. They were questioned on their understanding of integrity and its relevance to society, on their perceptions on corrupt behavior and also on their experience with corruption.

Additionally, the survey aimed at assessing the impact of an anti-corruption education policy, introduced in Vietnamese schools and universities in December 2009, on the respondents’ ethical views.

The summary and full versions of the report can be accessed here.

Videos Inform Civil Society About Uncac Review

Transparency International (TI) released today a series of six videos that aim at informing and training civil society organizations and activists on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) review mechanism.

The review process was designed to assess whether signatory countries are effectively implementing the Convention. TI has been advocating the need for independent civil society groups to take part in the review and give their inputs about the implementation of UNCAC.

For additional information and access to the videos, please access TI’s blog Space for Transparency here.

Mp Sentenced for Corruption

Ismail Abdul Hameed (pictured here), representative for Kaashidhoo, was convicted today for corruption charges by the Criminal Court, and was sentenced to one year and six months banishment. This punishment, traditional in the Maldives, entails that he will be forbidden to leave a certain island during the designated time.

Hameed was found guilty of abuse of authority when Director of Waste Management at the Male’ municipality. According to the prosecution, he acted in favor of a Singaporean company in the purchase of a barge.

In addition to the sentenced established by the judge, Hameed will also lose his seat in Parliament. A new election shall follow to fill the vacant seat.

For the full article on minivanews.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Hameed shown above is from haveeru.com.mv.

Deputy Tourism Minister Arrested for Corruption

Brazilian Deputy Tourism Minister, Frederico Silva da Costa (pictured here), has been arrested this Tuesday in a large operation by the Federal Police that detained 37 other ministry officials.

The arrests took place in Brasilia, São Paulo and Macapá. According to the police, the government officials are investigated for awarding contracts at inflated prices to complicit companies.

This is another in a series of corruption scandals that have hit Ms. Dilma Rousseff’s government since its beginning in January. In the last months, corruption allegations involving her former Chief of Staff and the ministers of Transport and Agriculture have led to a number of resignations among high-ranking officials.

For the full article on bbc.co.uk, please click here. The picture of Mr. Costa is from newspaper Hoje em Dia.

Agriculture Minister Resigns After Corruption Accusations

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Wagner Rossi (pictured here) resigned today as a result of allegations of corruption within the Ministry. This is the fourth resignation by a top official in Rousseff’s eight-month-old government.

The corruption scandal involving the Ministry had already led to the resignation of executive secretary Milton Ortolan on August 6th, after reports in Veja magazine about evidence of kickbacks and embezzlement in the ministry.

For the full story on bloomberg.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Rossi shown above is from the Brazilian Government’s website.