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Two charged in ongoing investigation into PennDOT corruption and fraud

Two charged in ongoing investigation into PennDOT corruption and fraud | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
The Attorney General's Office is charging two men with conspiring to steal more than $3.6 million in taxpayer money through their affiliations with PennDOT. 

These are the latest charges in an ongoing investigation into potential corruption and fraud involving PennDOT District 6, which includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

The Office of Attorney General began its investigation of possible illegal activity at PennDOT District 6 in March of 2013. Evidence and testimony regarding the case was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.

Contractor Thanh Nguyen, 62, 405 Ashton Drive, King of Prussia, Montgomery County, who has received $26 million in contracts for PennDOT maintenance since 2009, was charged today for allegedly stealing at least $3.6 million in public funds.
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Global Corruption
Corruption is a particularly viral form of cancer. It is caught here and there but it reappears somewhere else as soon as vigilance is relaxed. It is not eliminated, just driven underground. The corrupt merely suspend their operations temporarily. It lingers, hovering always in the background for its next opportunity.
- Gerald E. Caiden
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Corruption Eruption E-Magazine > > > "On Planet Corruption every day a new Eruption"

Corruption Eruption E-Magazine >   >  >            "On Planet Corruption every day a new Eruption" | Global Corruption | Scoop.it

*** Key findings from PwC's 17th Annual Global Economic Crime Survey

*** Cyber crime: the Achilles heel of the business world
*** Ukraine’s $19-billion question of debt and corruption

*** FBI announces campaign to crack down on public corruption

*** Ukraine’s $19-billion question of debt and corruption

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$1.5million in counterfeit money captured in Peru

$1.5million in counterfeit money captured in Peru | Global Corruption | Scoop.it

THE US Secret Service has seized a huge haul of fake money as part of a joint operation with Peruvian authorities.

The agency intercepted $1.5million (£1million) worth of notes and arrested four suspects, as a result of the sting.

Initially created in 1865 to combat the problem of counterfeit currency, the Secret Service posted a photo of the huge haul on to Twitter.

Fake money remains a huge problem worldwide. It's estimated almost one out of every 30 £1 coins in circulation is a fake.

You can spot a forged £1 coin if the orientation of the designs on either side of the coin are not in line; if the lettering or inscription on the edge of the coin doesn't correspond to the right year; and if the colouring appears more shiny and golden than it should for its age.

Another sign of a fake is that the milled edge is poorly defined and the lettering or designs are uneven or not very well defined.

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USA: Washington State Auditor Is Indicted For Tax Evasion, Stolen Property, Perjury

USA:  Washington State Auditor Is Indicted For Tax Evasion, Stolen Property, Perjury | Global Corruption | Scoop.it

Washington State Auditor Is Indicted For Tax Evasion, Stolen Property, Perjury

Washington State Auditor Troy X. Kelley has been indicted for federal income tax evasion, lying to investigators, concealing millions of dollars, and making repeated false statements. The 10-count indictment relates to Mr. Kelley’s career before becoming the state’s auditor. Not surprisingly, though, Governor Jay Inslee wants Mr. Kelley to resign. Instead, Mr. Kelley plans to go on leave. A Democrat and former state legislator, Mr. Kelley was elected the state’s auditor in 2012. His prepared statement says the federal indictment has “no merit,” and that:

none of the allegations touch on my work as an elected official in any way. They’ve been able to obtain an indictment, but they are a long way from proving any wrongdoing. Put more directly, I am very confident that I will be able to prove my innocence.

The 41-page federal indictment alleges that between 2003 and 2008, Mr. Kelley owned and operated a business called Post Closing Department. It was paid by real estate companies to track and file mortgage and refinancing documents. The real estate companies would withhold up to $150 for Post Closing, but Post Closing was only to charge approximately $20 per transaction. The balance was supposed to be refunded to buyers. In most of cases, though, the indictment claims that Mr. Kelley kept the entire fee.

The indictment claims that the tally is large, a claimed theft of up to $2 million. Mr. Kelley is charged with a single count of possession and concealment of stolen property for those allegations. Some of the alleged dirt comes from civil cases. In 2010, Mr. Kelley was sued by Old Republic Title, which alleged Post Closing had stolen nearly $1.2 million from its customers. That lawsuit was settled confidentially in May 2011.

The indictment states that Mr. Kelley paid Old Republic $1,050,000 to settle, but that he “maintained approximately $2,581,653 of the funds he had concealed” from the IRS. The indictment asserts that Mr. Kelley had a similar scheme with Fidelity Title. The indictment alleges that Mr. Kelley obstructed the Old Republic lawsuit, lying in depositions and under oath, resulting in three felony counts of making a false declaration and one count of obstructing a civil lawsuit.

Mr. Kelley is also charged with corrupt interference of IRS laws, two counts of filing false income-tax returns, and a single count of lying to IRS agents who questioned him in April 2013, a few months after his election as state auditor. The indictment alleges that Mr. Kelley directed employees to create fake spreadsheets to show fees being tracked, and occasionally issued refunds when someone complained.

Tax investigators say that a month after settling the Old Republic lawsuit for $1 million, Kelley wired $245,000 to another account and claimed it as 2011 income from another of his businesses, Blackstone. The agents allege he then claimed nearly $66,000 in business expenses that were actually personal. Calls for his resignation are not just coming from the Governor. Jaxon Ravens, chairman of the Washington State Democrats, said in a statement:

Troy Kelley no longer has the trust of the people of Washington, and it is time for him to resign. The State Auditor’s office plays an important role in holding state and local governments accountable for their use of public resources and we need a leader above reproach running it.

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Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2003-2012 « Global Financial Integrity

Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2003-2012 « Global Financial Integrity | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
The report finds that from 2003 to 2012, developing countries lost US$6.6 trillion to illicit outflows. The outflows increased at an average inflation-adjusted rate of 9.4% per year over the decade—significantly outpacing GDP growth.
As a percentage of GDP, Sub-Saharan Africa suffered the biggest loss of illicit capital. Illicit outflows from the region averaged 5.5% of GDP annually. Globally, illicit financial outflows averaged 3.9% of GDP.

Trade Misinvoicing Dominant Channel
The fraudulent misinvoicing of trade transactions was revealed to be the largest component of illicit financial flows from developing countries, accounting for 77.8 percent of all illicit flows—highlighting that any effort to significantly curtail illicit financial flows must address trade misinvoicing.
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America’s Most-Wanted Swiss Bankers Aren’t Hard to Find

America’s Most-Wanted Swiss Bankers Aren’t Hard to Find | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
At least 21 financial advisers in Switzerland under U.S. indictment remain at large, making them fugitives in the eyes of the American government. Their acts aren’t considered crimes under Swiss law, so the country won’t extradite or prosecute them. Several still work in the Swiss financial industry, offering tax advice and other services. Some still have U.S. clients.
The only Swiss adviser to receive a significant U.S. prison sentence? Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS banker who first revealed the widespread practice of Swiss banks setting up undeclared offshore accounts for wealthy Americans. None of the other Swiss bankers and lawyers who pleaded guilty have been sentenced to prison time.
50,000
Americans have admitted they illegally dodged billions in taxes with the aid of Swiss banks
I recently traveled around Switzerland, following the trail of indicted advisers and their colleagues. Some expect to spend the rest of their lives in the country, fearing arrest if they leave. Many complain that their superiors got off while they’re stuck in a state of Roman Polanski-type legal limbo. Still others hide behind locked doors.
At least four I talked to have decided to face the music: pleading guilty in the U.S. and cooperating with prosecutors. What persists is an indignation about being targeted for just following orders—and a sense that, despite their indictments, the Swiss banking system remains dirty.
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Is Corruption a Cultural Issue? - www.ethic-intelligence.com

Is Corruption a Cultural Issue? - www.ethic-intelligence.com | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
Whenever asked if corruption is a cultural issue I respond with this question: in your country, does a parent tolerate his or her child’s taking money from the family purse in order to go and buy sweets? The answer is no. Regardless of the country or the culture, the notion of integrity is the same. It is unacceptable to use a common fund for personal gain. Integrity forms the basis of any family’s system of education regardless of the country. How then, can corruption be explained?
 
The issue of poverty is often raised. Corruption as an equalizing force in the redistribution of wealth. Again, I ask, which public officials are the most corrupt in your own country? The Director of a government ministry or a teacher? A customs agent or a nurse? It is obvious that those in high-income positions benefit more from corruption than those in the lower levels. Corruption then has nothing to do with poverty even if it is the oft-used excuse for an extortion solicitation.
 
If it is not a cultural issue how can corruption be explained in countries, where it appears endemic?
 
Corruption has always existed, will continue to exist and no country will ever be completely free of it.
 
What has become apparent to me is that instances of corruption are at their highest in countries where there is a profound economic or political transformation under way.
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It happens in emerging countries when international assistance changes the traditional economic structures. It happens in countries when the economy goes from planned to market-based. It also happens in countries when the economic model evolves rapidly or when a political system goes from autocratic to democratic over a short period. Finally, it happens in countries who experience crises in governance whether civilian or military.
 
Endemic corruption emerges in these times of economic or political flux around those who are in positions of strength because of a non-democratic process. This strength is perhaps gained because there are calls for tender to organize, privatizations to execute, large construction projects following natural or other disasters or simply because there are new administrative powers to distribute.
 
Corruption is the result of a rational, economic calculation made by people who have discretionary power and who believe that they will not be caught. Culture does not play a role.
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This rational calculation is the same whether it is made to obtain a large contract or merely to expedite a banal administrative task.
 
Understanding – and explaining – that corruption is not a cultural phenomenon is fundamental to the efficiency of an anti-corruption compliance program.
 
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Fraud: The Last Great Uncontrolled Cost

Fraud: The Last Great Uncontrolled Cost | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
Fraud has increased 20% since the GFC.
While global research has consistently shown that the typical organisation losses 5% of its revenues to fraud each year, rates within the non-profit and international development sectors are considered to be significantly higher.  Putting this into perspective in 2013, fraud cost the OECD $7.56 billion in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), while in the case of Australia, the non-profit sector loses around $1.53 billion a year.  And the issue isn’t expected to improve, with a recent study showing that fraud increased 20% in the first two years of the global financial crises (GFC).  Despite fraud being a significant issue for many NGOs and other non-profits, few (if any) view it as a cost to be managed and controlled.
We manage what we measure:
Fraud, like any other type of cost, can be measured, managed and minimised, with the figures quoted above highlighting the current costs incurred by non-profits.  Despite this, how many of us view fraud as simply being just that, one of a number of types of costs incurred by an organisation?
By challenging our view of fraud, and shifting the focus even slightly, fraud costs all of a sudden become an opportunity, which – if managed properly – has the potential to drive significant cost savings through an organisation.  By re-classifying it as a separate ‘cost’ category, and setting up the metrics to measure it, it can start to be proactively managed.  Given where the non-profit sector is currently positioned in the fight against fraud, the potential upside is even higher, with immediate savings possible with relatively little effort.
Fraud costs can be reduced by 40% in two-years
Supporting this is a growing number of cases where organisations have substantially reduced their fraud costs in a relatively short space of time.  In each instance fraud costs have been measured, and accurate information about the fraud’s nature and extent collected.  While the speed of fraud loss reduction will vary from organisation to organisation, one study has argued that it is not unreasonable to assert that losses can be reduced by up to 40% over a two-year period.  Using the example above, this implies that  a staggering $3.0 billion in ODA, and an extra $0.6 billion for Australian non-profits can be freed up to expend on the purpose it was intended for originally!  Given the increasing financial challenges faced by both sectors, it represents a significant amount of additional funds.
However, to achieve this – or any other reduction in the cost of fraud – it is necessary to go beyond a purely reactive approach.  An organisations needs to know:
How much they are losing and how it is being lost, and
How well they are protected from it (i.e. their level of fraud resilience)
In other words, the key factors in reducing the cost of fraud, is not how well an organisation reacts after it has taken place, but the effectiveness of the steps it has taken to prevent it occurring in the first place.  In tis context, understanding the nature and scale of the problem is essential if the right solution is to be applied.
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Brazil's Scandal: Will it Sink Deeper — or Emerge Stronger?

Brazil's Scandal: Will it Sink Deeper — or Emerge Stronger? | Global Corruption | Scoop.it

Within three months of assuming office after being reelected, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s administration has become embroiled in thickening corruption scandals that threaten to turn off domestic and foreign investors, derail an austerity program and undermine the country’s economy. Yet, Brazil has a fighting chance to emerge chastised and stronger from the crisis, say experts from Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

At the heart of the scandal are allegations that politicians, including some from Rousseff’s own Workers’ Party, received hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks from contracts awarded by the state-run oil company, Petrobras. Rousseff was chair of Petrobras between 2003 and 2010, and has stoutly denied any knowledge of the corruption. Investigations underway cover 20 companies for allegedly forming a cartel to inflate contract values and nearly 50 politicians, including Senate chief Renan Calheiros. The crisis widened as the government last week announced investigations into its health ministry and the state-owned bank, Caixa Econômica Federal (Caixa).

“It is serious, endemic and one of the largest corruption cases we have, but I don’t think the whole Brazilian economy is compromised,” said Felipe Monteiro, professor of strategy at INSEAD in France and a senior fellow at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management. With increasing pressure from Brazil’s civilian population and its press, he predicted a “potential good outcome of increased transparency and strong institutions,” but wasn’t willing to bet on it. “I see the potential. I don’t think it is a given.”


William Burke-White, deputy dean and professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School and an expert on international law and global governance, also saw the potential for Brazil to turn the crisis into a positive push. “Brazil has built a strong democracy with good institutions, good court systems, good investigative ability, and paralleling that, a strong civil society with freedom of the press, freedom of expression and transparency,” he said.

“If you were to think of this crisis happening in most of the BRICs [Brazil, Russia, India and China] would it look like this?” Burke-White continued. “No. You would either have a government cover-up, or you would have a coup or you would have politicized investigations of corruption.” He lauded Brazil for the unchallenged power of its administrative machinery to put the government on trial.

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News - Daily Corruption News: 15 April 2015

News - Daily Corruption News: 15 April 2015 | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
Global: Lobbyists threaten European democracy, anti-graft body says
Reuters (TI mention)

Lack of control over lobbyists threatens to undermine European democracies, the anti-corruption pressure group Transparency International said on Wednesday, as it called for tight new regulation.



MORE NEWS

Australia: Federal police investigate surge in foreign bribery allegations
The Canberra Times

Brazil: Petrobras shows corruption is now a high-stakes game in Brazil
Financial Times

Canada: Michael Applebaum, ex-mayor of Montreal, returns to real estate despite corruption charges
CBC

Germany: German government poised to tackle healthcare corruption
Euractiv (TI mention)

Kenya: Graft unreported as Kenyans bribe for public services, says new survey
The Star

Kosovo: Report criticizes EU Kosovo mission’s handling of corruption allegations
Wall Street Journal

Mexico: Lanzan #3de3 para candidatos (Launching #3de3 for candidates)
Milenio (TI mention)

South Korea: Officials close to South Korean president accused of bribery
Associated Press
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Lobbying in Europe: hidden influence, privileged access

This report examines the practice of lobbying and the attempts to regulate it in 19 European countries and within the three core EU institutions. Lobbying is an integral part of a healthy democracy, closely related to universal values such as freedom of speech and the right to petition of government. It allows for various interest groups to present their views on public decisions that may come to affect them. It also has the potential to enhance the quality of decision-making by providing channe
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USA: Atlanta test cheating case: 9 out of 10 ex-educators receive jail time

USA: Atlanta test cheating case: 9 out of 10 ex-educators receive jail time | Global Corruption | Scoop.it

All but one of 10 former Atlanta public school educators were sentenced to jail time Tuesday in a widespread conspiracy to inflate student scores on the state's standardized tests, and the judge called the case "the sickest thing that's ever happened in this town."

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter had delayed sentencing by a day and encouraged all to negotiate deal with prosecutors. But only two agreed to deals. In both those cases, Baxter followed the state's recommendations: He gave a former teacher one year of home confinement and a former testing coordinator six months of weekends spent in jail.

The remaining eight received harsher sentences, with three of them well beyond prosecutors' recommendations. The sentences ranged from serving one to seven years in jail.

But those eight can appeal within 30 days, and they can be out of jail on bond while the appeals are pending. Those who took the deals — former teacher Pamela Cleveland and former testing coordinator Donald Bullock — waived their right to appeal. They also agreed to apologize to students, parents, and the court.

During sentencing, Baxter called the cheating "pervasive."
"It's like the sickest thing that's ever happened in this town," he said.

A state investigation found that as far back as 2005, educators from the 50,000-student Atlanta school system fed answers to students or erased and changed answers on tests after they were turned in. Evidence of cheating was found in 44 schools with nearly 180 educators involved, and teachers who tried to report it were threatened with retaliation.

In 2013, 35 educators were indicted on charges including racketeering, making false statements and theft. Many pleaded guilty before the trial, and some testified at the months-long trial. The jury acquitted one of the 12 former educators who went to trial and convicted the other 11 on a racketeering charge.

Former Superintendent Beverly Hall was among those indicted, but she did not stand trial because her lawyers argued successfully that she was too sick. She died from complications of breast cancer.

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Cracking the shells

Cracking the shells | Global Corruption | Scoop.it

VULTURE” funds, which chase distressed borrowers for payment of outstanding debt, have few friends outside finance. Occasionally, though, their hunt for profit aligns neatly with calls for greater financial openness by campaigners, winning the rapacious funds unlikely admirers. So it has proved as Elliott Management looks to enforce court rulings demanding that Argentina cough up $2 billion it owes to the hedge fund. A collateral benefit of the fund’s hunt for assets is that it has put a crack in the wall of secrecy around American shell companies, which are among the world’s most impenetrable and thus often used for nefarious purposes.

The case involves $65m suspected of having been embezzled and laundered abroad by Lazaro Baez, a building tycoon with ties to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina’s president, and her late husband (and predecessor), Nestor. Elliott joined the sleuthing, its logic being that any stolen money was misappropriated state funds and could therefore be grabbed to satisfy judgments in its favour.

The money trail led to Nevada, home to 123 brass-plate firms that Elliott suspected of being linked to the alleged fraud. But piercing the corporate veil in the state is far from easy. Its record-keeping requirements are minimal even by American standards.

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News - Daily Corruption News: 14 April 2015

Cyprus: Cypriot deputy attorney-general under graft investigation
Reuters

One of Cyprus's most senior prosecutors is under investigation for graft after findings of an independent criminal investigator, the island's attorney general said on Tuesday.



MORE NEWS

Global: Former badminton doubles champ warns on match-fixing
Agence France-Presse

Global: Chinese police chase corruption suspects in Australian suburbs
The Sydney Morning Herald

Global: IOC sets up whistleblowers’ hotline for match-fixing and corruption
Associated Press

China: Anti-corruption drive grounds China private jet sales
Financial Times

Papua New Guinea: PNG corruption hotline nets hundreds of possible cases of graft
Radio Australia

UK: Twenty-eight English clubs are now owned overseas, increasing the risk of tax avoidance
The Guardian
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Daily Corruption News: 17 April 2015

China:  China’s military warns about corruption on key anniversary
Reuters

The Chinese military's official newspaper issued a warning on Friday that a country riven with corruption will only face national humiliation, as it marked the 120th anniversary of a treaty that handed over control of Taiwan to Japan.



MORE NEWS

Chile: Chile students protest corruption, demand education reform
AP

Malaysia: Anti-corruption efforts not receiving enough public support
The Sun Daily (TI mention)

South Korea: Sung offered illegal donations to 20 lawmakers
The Korea Times

Spain: Former IMF chief ‘under investigation for money laundering’
euronews

Ukraine: Sytnyk appointed Ukraine’s first anti-corruption bureau chief
Kyiv Post

United States: The most corrupt state in the country is…
NPR



MULTIMEDIA OF THE WEEK

Dominican Republic: Documental cero impunidad (Zero Impunity)
El Grillo
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Washington State Auditor Kelley Indictment Text

 A grand jury has indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley on 10 counts Thursday, including filing false tax returns, obstruction and possession of stolen property.

 

Kelley held a news conference Thursday afternoon in Tacoma, saying, "I believe this indictment has no merit whatsoever." He also countered a number of the charges brought against him in the indictment.

He did say that he will take a "temporary leave of absence" starting May 1.

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Half of Chinese Officials Are Said to Harbor Mistresses

Half of Chinese Officials Are Said to Harbor Mistresses | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
A new report produced by a university and a large research organization in China has revealed that nearly half of the powerful Chinese officials that have been purged since 2000 retained at least one mistress—supported with their ill-gotten gains.

The report, published on April 15, was produced by the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University and the Shenzhen Innovation and Research Institute, a think tank in Shenzhen.

The report includes an analysis of 367 cases of corruption involving officials whose rank is higher than a departmental or bureau head—219 of them held the most powerful position in their respective agency or company. The study covered cases from 2000 until the end of March 2014.

Of the total, 172 of the targets were found to have had a mistress, or 47 percent; 44 of them were part of the security apparatus, 24 were in the central government, and 63 were in state-run companies.
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NATIONAL SURVEY: MOST CORRUPT STATE? NEW YORK - Texas and California land on both most and least corrupt lists

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News - Daily Corruption News: 16 April 2015

News - Daily Corruption News: 16 April 2015 | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
China: China starts campaign to counter outflow of corruption cash
Bloomberg

China started a campaign to stop the use of offshore companies to transfer the ill-gotten gains from corruption and bribery overseas.



MORE NEWS

Global: Navy officer pleads guilty in Asian bribery scandal
Associated Press

Colombia: Ex-Colombia ministers convicted of bribes on behalf of Uribe
Associated Press

Ukraine: Curbing the kleptocrats: Kiev chips away at its pervasive corruption
Christian Science Monitor

UK: UK's Serious Fraud Office bring corruption charges against Alstom UK unit
Reuters

US: Dean Skelos, New York Senate Leader, and his son are said to be focus of corruption inquiry
The New York Times

Uzbekistan: More than a million forced to harvest cotton in 2014, says NGO
OCCRP
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Ernst & Young settles with N.Y. for $10 million over Lehman auditing

Ernst & Young settles with N.Y. for $10 million over Lehman auditing | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
Ernst & Young LLP will pay $10 million to settle a New York lawsuit accusing the accounting firm of helping Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc deceive investors in the years leading up to its 2008 collapse, the New York attorney general said on Wednesday.

The 2010 lawsuit claimed Ernst & Young's auditing facilitated a "massive accounting fraud" and sought $150 million in fees that the firm earned from Lehman between 2001 and 2008, plus investor damages and equitable relief.

While the $10 million was much smaller than what the attorney general's office had sought, Ernst & Young agreed to pay $99 million in damages to investors in a class action settlement approved a year ago.

The case was the only action by a law enforcement authority in connection with Lehman's 2008 collapse, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

"If auditors' reports...provide cover for their clients by helping to hide material information, that harms the investing public, our economy and our country," Schneiderman said.

Nearly all the $10 million will go to investors in Lehman securities, the office said.

The case was the last significant lawsuit against Ernst & Young over Lehman, according to a spokeswoman for the accounting firm.

"After many years of costly litigation, we are pleased to put this matter behind us, with no findings of wrongdoing by EY or any of its professionals," the firm said in a statement.

According to the complaint, Ernst approved the "surreptitious" removal of tens of billions of dollars of debt from Lehman's balance sheet to make the investment bank appear less indebted at the close of financial quarters.

Lehman filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008, helping to trigger the global financial crisis. Once the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, Lehman held large quantities of risky subprime mortgage securities.

The complaint alleged that, for more than seven years before Lehman's bankruptcy, the bank made use of transactions known as "Repo 105s," short-term financing that temporarily moved as much as $50 billion from its balance sheet.
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Ex-Im Bank Official Hit With Bribery Charge

Ex-Im Bank Official Hit With Bribery Charge | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
A former loan official for the Export-Import Bank has been charged by the Justice Department with bribery for accepting cash or goods as bribes on 19 separate occasions.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Justice Department has charged a former loan officer at the Export-Import Bank with bribery, alleging that Johnny Gutierrez on 19 occasions between 2006 and 2013 accepted cash and other things of value in return for “being influenced in the performance of his official acts.”

Prosecutors filed charges Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and said they are seeking for Mr. Gutierrez to forfeit $78,900, a sum they described as “the amount of proceeds obtained” through the alleged bribes.

The charges, detailed in a letter from the office of the Export-Import Bank’s inspector general to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) on Tuesday, come as a probe into the alleged bribery remains ongoing. Mr. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is holding a hearing with other lawmakers to scrutinize the Export-Import Bank on Wednesday.

“Because this investigation remains open as to other subjects and the charges against Mr. Gutierrez are currently pending in federal court, I cannot provide additional information at this time or in my testimony at the hearing scheduled for April 15,” deputy inspector general Michael T. McCarthy wrote to Mr. Chaffetz.

The charges against Gutierrez come after four other Ex-Im Bank officials have been suspended or removed from the bank due to improper activity.

Gutierrez left his post at Ex-Im Bank last year as he was being investigated.
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USA: Michigan Home Health Agency Owner Pleads Guilty in Connection with $2.6 Million Home Health Care Scheme

USA:  Michigan Home Health Agency Owner Pleads Guilty in Connection with $2.6 Million Home Health Care Scheme | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
The owner of a greater Detroit-area home health care agency pleaded guilty today to fraud and money laundering charges in connection with her role in a $2.6 million home health care scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

Rahmat Begum, 49, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, pleaded guilty today – during the second day of her trial – to all charges in a six-count indictment, including one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of making false statements relating to health care matters, one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and three counts of money laundering.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 18, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman of the Eastern District of Michigan.

According to admissions made as part of her guilty plea, Begum conspired to submit falsified claims to Medicare where the claims were based upon referrals obtained through illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters and physicians.  Begum also admitted to conspiring to pay illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters and physicians and to making a false statement to Medicare pledging not to pay kickbacks, when in fact she was paying them.  Finally, Begum admitted to laundering the proceeds of the wire fraud conspiracy.
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Transparency International - Europe: a playground for special interests amid lax lobbying rules

Transparency International - Europe: a playground for special interests amid lax lobbying rules | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
What stops special interests, especially businesses, from telling European citizens what they can eat; how much they pay to make a mobile call; what medicines they can take?

According to a new report on lobbying in 19 European countries from Transparency International the answer is: very little. In fact just 7 of the 19 countries assessed have regulation that targets lobbying and, in most cases, this regulation is ineffective.

Although lobbying is an important part of a healthy democracy, the lax rules mean that businesses and other special interests with lots of money and friends in the right places in cities like Brussels, Rome and Berlin can easily influence politicians and the law-making process in their country to put profits before people.

Our new report “Lobbying in Europe: Hidden influence, privileged access” answers the following questions: How do European countries compare in terms of lobbying regulation? Does the public know who is lobbying whom, on what matters and with how much money? Are lobbyists and their targets guided by ethical standards? And does the public have the opportunity to participate in public-decision making?

Our report is the first-ever comprehensive assessment of lobbying across Europe, looking at the quality of responses by both governments and EU institutions to the risks and realities of undue influence in public decision-making.

The report ranks 19 countries and three EU institutions in terms of their overall performance in safeguarding against undue influence and in promoting open and ethical lobbying. It also ranks their performance in three critical and inter-related areas of effective lobbying regulation.

THE THREE ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE LOBBYING REGULATION

Any serious effort to regulate lobbying should recognise that transparency must be accompanied by broader measures to strengthen public integrity and promote opportunities for access to the political system by a wide range of citizens.

Transparency: Interactions between lobbyists and public officials are made transparent and are open to public scrutiny.
Integrity: Clear and enforceable rules on ethical conduct for both lobbyists and public officials are in place and are properly implemented.
Equality of access: Public decision-making is open to a plurality of voices representative of a wide range of interests.
REGULATION IS MISSING OR DEFICIENT

The findings of the report are sobering. Just over a third of the countries assessed in the report (7 of 19, including: Austria, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom) have regulation targeting lobbying in place. But even in these countries, regulation is mostly poorly designed or not properly implemented, meaning that it fails to achieve the ideal standards of transparency, integrity and equality of access. When assessing all countries and EU institutions together against best practice standards, the average score – at 31 per cent – is way below half the ideal marks.

Lobbying all too often takes place behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny... there is not enough ethical guidance for lobbyists"
Lobbying all too often takes place behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny and there is not enough ethical guidance for lobbyists and those decision-makers who are lobbied. Additionally, access to decision-makers is too limited, and the public has little opportunity to input into political processes that ultimately come to affect them.
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Europe: Unregulated lobbying opens door to corruption - TI

Europe: Unregulated lobbying opens door to corruption - TI | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
Transparency International said today that Europe urgently needs lobbying reform. A new report from the anti-corruption group found that of 19 European countries assessed, only 7 have some form of dedicated lobbying law or regulation, allowing for nearly unfettered influence of business interests on the daily lives of Europeans.

The 19 countries together score just 31 per cent (out of 100 per cent) when measured against international lobbying standards and best practice in the report “Lobbying in Europe: Hidden Influence, Privileged Access”. The new report, the first ever comprehensive assessment on lobbying in the region, studies how well political decision-making is protected from undue influence.

“In the past five years, Europe’s leaders have made difficult economic decisions that have had big consequences for citizens. Those citizens need to know that decision-makers were acting in the public interest, not the interest of a few select players,” said Elena Panfilova, Vice-Chair of Transparency International.

Despite the fact that lobbying is an integral part of a healthy democracy, multiple scandals throughout Europe demonstrate that without clear and enforceable rules and regulations, a select number of voices with more money and insider contacts can come to dominate political decision-making – usually for their own benefit.

The report examines lobbying practices as well as whether safeguards are in place to ensure transparent and ethical lobbying in Europe and three core European Union institutions. It looks at whether there are sufficient mechanisms allowing fair and equal access to decision-makers.

Slovenia comes out at the top with a score of 55 per cent, owing to the dedicated lobbying regulation in place, which nevertheless suffers from gaps and loopholes. Cyprus and Hungary rank at the bottom with 14 per cent, performing poorly in almost every area assessed, especially when it comes to access to information.

Eurozone crisis countries Italy, Portugal and Spain are among the five worst-performing countries, where lobbying practices and close relations between the public and financial sectors are deemed risky. The report shows that post-crisis financial sector reform efforts at the national and EU levels have been thwarted and watered down, in large part due to intense lobbying by the financial sector in Europe.
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'Clean' Communist Official Found Guilty of Corruption in China

'Clean' Communist Official Found Guilty of Corruption in China | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
MORE IN CHINESE REGIME

China’s New Missile System Gives Air Superiority Over Taiwan


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In Countering Nuclear North Korea, US Walks Tightrope With China

Liao Shaohua, formerly the Party secretary of Zunyi City in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, once helped to open a center that raised awareness against corruption. He personally attended the opening ceremony for the establishment, called the “Oppose Corruption, Promote Clean Government Admonishment and Education Base.”

Now, Liao Shaohua has been jailed for corruption, according to regime mouthpiece Xinhua.

The People’s Intermediate Court in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, sentenced him to 16 years of prison and confiscated 1.3 million yuan—most of it presumably ill gotten. He was charged with bribery and abuse of power, catchall terms for malfeasance.

Xinhua reported that before his arrest, Liao went to great lengths to cultivate his image as an honest and upright communist official in the fight against corruption: aside from opening the anti-corruption “base,” he visited a jail and pretended to learn lessons from the inmates.
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CHINA: With graft-busters on the take, how to guard the guardians?

CHINA: With graft-busters on the take, how to guard the guardians? | Global Corruption | Scoop.it
The main role of the party watchdog, the commissions for discipline inspection at various levels of government, is to tackle corruption. The groups are the most powerful investigative bodies on the mainland, even more so than the police or other law enforcement agencies, as they supervise the Communist Party's more than 80 million members and the whole of officialdom.
But the party is facing the challenge of how to guard the guardians, as those thought to guarantee communist rule could themselves be undermining the right to rule.
No wonder then that news the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection was investigating Zhong Shijian, deputy chief of the Guangdong provincial disciplinary agency, for graft became a hot topic of comment among state media.
"Like Caesar's wife, the discipline agency and its inspectors themselves must be beyond reproach. The investigation of a senior Guangdong official at the very heart of the struggle against corruption shows that the day when even the agency itself is above suspicion is still a long way off," a Xinhua editorial said. "Only when one is upright, can one ask others to be upright."
Jiangsu Wang, a news portal of the Jiangsu provincial government, asked that, with Zhong's arrest for alleged corruption charges, "whose face has it slapped?"
"Zhong Shijian has broken the rules he is supposed to uphold. His behaviour has tarnished the disciplinary body's reputation and is akin to a heavy slap on the anti-graft department's face," it said in a commentary.
But the Beijing Times said that "there is a symbolic significance to the sacking of disciplinary officials".
"It means that the disciplinary bodies are willing and are capable of probing internal corruption and that they will not only fight external 'tigers' and 'flies', but also those within," it said, referring to the terms for national and lower level officials targeted in the drive.
The official watchdogs are neither immune from graft, nor have they proven to be cleaner than any agencies in this regard.
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News - Daily Corruption News: 13 April 2015

China: Jiang Jiemin trial links key officials in China’s corruption crackdown
Wall Street Journal

After two years of piecemeal detentions, a trial began tying together key figures in China’s anticorruption campaign, with prosecutors linking the former head of a big state oil company to the country’s retired security czar, Zhou Yongkang.

Global: U.S. court allows EU money-laundering case vs. RJ Reynolds
Reuters

Brazil: Hundreds of thousands rally against corruption in Brazil
BBC

Chile: José Antonio Viera-Gallo: Chile “necesita un golpe de timón” (José Antonio Viera-Gallo: Chile "needs a change of direction")
BioBioChile (TI mention)

France: Les experts du médicament contraints à la transparence (Drug experts forced into transparency)
Les Echos

South Korea: Ruling party chief willing to cooperate with corruption scandal probe
Yonhap

Thailand: NACC to submit new corruption list
Bangkok Post

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