Anti-Corruption Commission Is Not a Good Option for Libya

An article by Nathaniel Heller published on the Global Integrity website today highlights why an Anti-Corruption Commission is would not be a good policy for Libya and other Middle Eatern countries that have experienced political revolutions recently.

The author also discusses why Anti-Corruption Commissions have become such a prominent anti-corruption policy, despite empirical evidence showing that their implementation has been disappointing in most cases. With regards to the Libyan situation, and the expectation that aid donors attempt to push for the creation of an Anti-Corruption Commission in the country as was considered also for the Tunisian and Egyptian cases, he mentions that this kind of policy is particularly inappropriate for post-conflict scenarios.

According to the author, the main reason for the appeal of such commissions is their relatively straigthforward institutional structure and functioning. However, he also highlights that, in practice, these commissions commonly face fundamental problems such as understaffing and underfunding. Moreover, coordination with other government agencies is often sub-optimal, thus creating additional problems.

For the full article on globalintegrity.org, please click here. The picture portrayed above is also featured in the original article and is credited to B.R.Q. Network.

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.

Anti-Corruption Commission Officials Resign After Reform

Patrick Lumumba (pictured here), head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), and his deputies have resigned from their positions, according to a statement by the agency’s advisory board. The resignation comes as a result of a law passed by Parliament last week, which transformed the KACC into a new ethics body.

The government has already started consultations to form a panel responsible for composing the staff of the new Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). This new body will be in charge of overseeing anti-corruption measures and enforcing ethical standards that integrate the country’s new Constitution.

For the full story on the Daily Nation, please click here. The picture of Mr. Lumumba portrayed above is also featured in the original article.

Medvedev Orders More Transparency in Secret Services

President Dmitry Medvedev (pictured here) has ordered Russian secret services to increase transparency about their work through online disclosures on their activities, anti-corruption efforts and also on incomes and assets of officials and their family members.

The decree issued this Wednesday includes 19 government agencies as subject to the new regulation, among which the Federal Guard Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service and the ministries of Interior, Emergency and Defense. However, this order will not apply to the Federal Security Service, KGB’s main successor.

For the full article on bloomberg.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Medvedev shown above was published in The Huffington Post and is credited to the Associated Press (AP).

Egypt Revives 60-Year-Old Anti-Corruption Law

Last Wednesday the Egyptian government decided to revive an old piece of legislation against corruption, first passed under President Nasser’s government. Experts say that the decision may affect the trial of Hosni Mubarak (pictured here).

Amendments to the so-called Treason Law have been approved by the cabinet and sent to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to be ratified. The law determines that any government official, including parliamentarians and members of the Cabinet, may be punished for abuse of power for personal benefit.

According to Justice Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz el-Guindy, this law would be applicable to the corruption case against Mubarak, since it was never directly overwritten and therefore remained in effect during his regime.

For the full article on af.reuters.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Mubarak is from guardian.co.uk and is credited to European Press Agency (EPA).

Asset Disclosure Law Remains Ineffective

Russia is among the countries that has introduced legislation for the disclosure of assets by public officials, following articles 8.5 and 20 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Nevertheless, recent cases of non-compliance by high-profile politicians raise doubt about how serious this anti-corruption measure is.

In 2010, the case of the Russian Parliament’s speaker, who omitted data on his wife’s income and assets in his declaration, received wide coverage by the press. A year later, however, the negative publicity was not able to keep him from withholding the same information again.

This case, and a number of other similar cases involving other Russian politicians, uncovered an important weakness in the mechanisms to enforce asset disclosure regulation: the Russian government still lacks a body with authority to review public officials declarations and take action in case of non-compliance.

For the full article by Aleksandr Shkolnikov on the Trustlaw blog, please click here.

Bárta Seeks Support to Keep Immunity

Vít Bárta (pictured here), MP from the Public Affairs (VV) party under investigation for payments to fellow party members, has been articulating support among other MPs to avoid losing his parliamentary immunity, which would allow the corruption case against him to turn effectively into a prosecution.

The Police’s request to the Chamber of Deputies for the lifting of his immunity occurred in June, but proceedings by the immunity Committee have been delayed also because Bárta failed to appear at scheduled meetings.

The case against Bárta began when two former VV members reported that they had received cash payments from him in exchange for their loyalty and discretion about his irregular practices within the party. According to Bárta, the payments were personal loans. However, the scandal led to his resignation as Transport Minister.

For the full article on czechposition.com, please click here. The picture of Mr. Bárta shown above is from The Prague Post.

Businessman Wants to Fast Against Corruption

Similarly to Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, a Pakistani businessman and political activist, Jhangir Ahktar, announced that he will begin a hunger strike as a means to protest against corruption and to demand anti-corruption legislation in the country.

Ahktar said that the hunger strike will also be a campaign against Pakistan’s high military budget. He claims that the current situation in the country requires that funds be reallocated from the defense budget to other expenses in favor of the population.

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

Former Prime Minister Indicted for Graft

Ex-Prime Minister Ivo Sanader (pictured here) has been indicted for receiving almost EUR 500,000 in bribes from Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria, in exchange for facilitating procedures for a loan to Croatia from that institution. The deal took place in 1995, when he was deputy foreign minister.

He is also accused of corruption in another case, involving a deal to allow the Hungarian firm MOL to take control of the Croatian oil company INA. According to the investigation, he is believed to have received a bribe in the amount of EUR 10 million.

Sanader was arrested in December in Austria and extradited to Croatia in July. He is the target of other six corruption investigations.

For the full article on reportingproject.net, please click here. The picture of Mr. Sanader is from the portal ezadar.hr.

Officials Banned for Match-Fixing

FIFA has banned six match officials for life, three of them from Bosnia-Herzegovina and the others from Hungary, for corruption and influencing match results. The offenses took place in the matches Bolivia-Latvia and Estonia-Bulgaria, played in Turkey last February.

Football authorities received complaints by officials from the four national teams, after unusual betting patterns were observed regarding the two matches.

For the full story on abc.net.au, please click here.

Transparency Reporting Project Publishes Survey Results

The results of a nationwide online survey, conducted under the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) between June and August 2011, show that a vast majority of the respondents is dissatisfied with anti-corruption efforts implemented by government institutions.

According to the survey, 90 percent think that the Congress and the Judiciary are not doing enough against corruption in the country, and 80 percent believe that those institutions have a major role in fighting corruption.

Additionally, 60 percent of respondents said that the current government is not implementing a good strategy to increase transparency and accountability. Nevertheless, 54 percent acknowledged that there has been real progress against corruption in the present administration.

The survey also revealed that around 90 percent of respondents believe that the government must work in partnership with citizens in order to improve transparency and curb corruption.

For the full story on gmanews.tv, please click here. The project’s website can be accessed here.

Police Chief Arrested for Corruption

A corruption investigation initiated last week against Colonel Margar Ohanian, chief of the Armenian traffic police, led yesterday to his arrest. According to the Special Investigative Service (SIS), Ohanian is accused of abuse of power and embezzlement of public funds.

This case follows another investigation on a traffic police officer, Colonel Stepan Karakhanian, who was arrested on August 26th and released yesterday. Karakhanian also faces charges of embezzlement.

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