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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 |
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.<br>                                                                         - Gerald E. Caiden <br>
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Ecuador Quake 'Deathtrap' Perpetrators Will Face Jail: Correa

Ecuador Quake 'Deathtrap' Perpetrators Will Face Jail: Correa | Global Corruption |

cuadorean President Rafael Correa announced the government is prepared to press charges against those responsible for building poorly designed infrastructure in light of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated the country on April 16, killing hundreds and injuring thousands more.

“There are individuals who acted with the intention to save a few extra pennies, and by doing so constructed death traps that were approved by local authorities,” President Correa stated via Twitter.

In the days after the earthquake, recovery officials reported numerous instances of poorly built housing structures. Initial government reports state that 805 buildings were destroyed and 608 were damaged. Meanwhile, preliminary surveys indicate that at least 119 schools have been damaged or collapsed.

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USA: Former Fugitive Sentenced to 96 Months in Prison for Embezzling $8.7 Million from Employer

James T. Hammes, 54, formerly of Lexington, Kentucky, was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 96 months in prison. Hammes pleaded guilty in October 2015 to one count of wire fraud and agreed to pay nearly $7.7 million in restitution, specifically, approximately $6.7 million to G & J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers, Inc. and $1 million to Cincinnati Insurance Company.

Benjamin C. Glassman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Division, announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott.

According to court documents, from about 1998 through February 2009, Hammes embezzled more than $8.7 million from his employer, G & J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers, Inc., a large, privately held manufacturer and distributor of Pepsi products that is headquartered in Cincinnati.

Hammes served as a controller for the company, and was responsible for all financial accounting and internal controls for his division, including supervising accounts payable to vendors for services provided to the company’s division.

The defendant set up phantom vendor accounts and manipulated monthly accounting reports, using a miscellaneous account to charge off fraudulent checks and then manipulating legitimate accounts to offset the amounts carried in the miscellaneous account.

The stolen money that Hammes invested and traded generated IRS 1099 forms. Hammes voluntarily made estimated tax payments to the IRS totaling at least $2.7 million using the funds that he stole from his employer. Despite making the estimated tax payments, he failed to file tax returns for multiple tax years.

Hammes was questioned about the issuance of possible fraudulent checks in February 2009, at which time he fled and spent the majority of six years as a fugitive hiking the Appalachian Trail and living under an alias, which belonged to a real person. Federal criminal charges were filed against Hammes and he was arrested in Virginia in May 2015, following a tip from a hiker who had seen the defendant’s story on television.

“Hammes embezzled a lot of money over a long period of time,” Acting U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “As the district court recognized, his scheme was sophisticated; he abused the trust that his employer had placed in him; and sheer greed motivated him. Hammes followed up his crime by coldly abandoning his family without explanation or warning and running from the law for six years under someone else's name. But no one can run from justice forever, and today his lies were punished. Hammes more than earned every minute of the term of imprisonment that the district court imposed today.”
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BRAZIL: Cunha expects acquittal of new charges

BRAZIL: Cunha expects acquittal of new charges | Global Corruption |
Brazil's suspended house speaker Eduardo Cunha said he expects to be acquitted of new corruption charges brought up against him, claiming evidence favouring his case was ignored.
Cunha was indicted late on Wednesday in the country's Supreme Court for alleged money laundering and illegal currency dealing involving state-oil player Petrobras.

According to Brazil's attorney general, Cunha benefited from the sale of a Petrobras oilfield and concealed the funds in foreign bank accounts.

The judge overseeing the case, Teori Zavascki, said in the decision, "There is concrete evidence that Cunha received [illicit] funds."

The court's decision to proceed with the case against Cunha was unanimously accepted.

Cuhna denied the allegations and said he was disappointed with the court's decision, but that he expects to be acquitted.  

"In relation to the indictment accepted by the court, I respect the decision and trust that at the end of the trial I will be acquitted," Cuhna said in a statement in Portuguese.

He also claimed that evidence presented by his defence - that an alleged meeting at Petrobras did not exist - was ignored.
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National Health Care Fraud Takedown Results in Charges against 301 Individuals for Approximately $900 Million in False Billing | OPA | Department of Justice

National Health Care Fraud Takedown Results in Charges against 301 Individuals for Approximately $900 Million in False Billing | OPA | Department of Justice | Global Corruption |
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced today an unprecedented nationwide sweep led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in 36 federal districts, resulting in criminal and civil charges against 301 individuals, including 61 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $900 million in false billings.  Twenty-three state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is suspending payment to a number of providers using its suspension authority provided in the Affordable Care Act.  This coordinated takedown is the largest in history, both in terms of the number of defendants charged and loss amount.  

Attorney General Lynch and Secretary Burwell were joined in the announcement by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, FBI Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich, Inspector General Daniel Levinson of the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), Acting Director Dermot O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), and Deputy Administrator and Director of CMS Center for Program Integrity Shantanu Agrawal M.D.

The defendants announced today are charged with various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.  The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services, including home health care, psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, durable medical equipment (DME) and prescription drugs.  More than 60 of the defendants arrested are charged with fraud related to the Medicare prescription drug benefit program known as Part D, which is the fastest-growing component of the Medicare program overall.

“As this takedown should make clear, health care fraud is not an abstract violation or benign offense – It is a serious crime,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “The wrongdoers that we pursue in these operations seek to use public funds for private enrichment.  They target real people – many of them in need of significant medical care.  They promise effective cures and therapies, but they provide none.  Above all, they abuse basic bonds of trust – between doctor and patient; between pharmacist and doctor; between taxpayer and government – and pervert them to their own ends.  The Department of Justice is determined to continue working to ensure that the American people know that their health care system works for them – and them alone.”

“Millions of seniors depend on Medicare for essential health coverage, and our action shows that this administration remains committed to cracking down on individuals who try to defraud the program,” said Secretary Burwell.  “We are continuing to put new tools and additional resources to work, including $350 million from the Affordable Care Act, for health care fraud prevention and enforcement efforts.  Thanks to the hard work of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, we are making progress in addressing and deterring fraud and delivering results to help ensure Medicare remains strong for years to come.”

According to court documents, the defendants allegedly participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare and Medicaid for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided.  In many cases, patient recruiters, Medicare beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were allegedly paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could then submit fraudulent bills to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never performed.  Collectively, the doctors, nurses, licensed medical professionals, health care company owners and others charged are accused of submitting a total of approximately $900 million in fraudulent billing.

“The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a model of 21st-Century data-driven law enforcement, and it has had a remarkable impact on health care fraud across the country,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “As the cases announced today demonstrate, the Strike Force’s strategic approach keeps us a step ahead of emerging fraud trends, including drug diversion, and fraud involving compounded medications and hospice care.”
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Which are the most corrupt cities in the world?

Which are the most corrupt cities in the world? | Global Corruption |

"...despite the soaring relevance of cities to our lives, to date global anti-corruption efforts have largely been targeted at countries as a whole, rather than at the urban settlements within them. The recent Panama Papers exposé drove debates over corruption to the top of the news agenda, and also revealed the extent to which tax havens have a direct impact on cities; more than 31,000 companies based in tax havens own property in the UK, largely concentrated in London, and nearly one in 10 of them are linked to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the leaks. “The Panama Papers have once more driven home the point that shell companies associated with offshore secrecy providers play an outsized role in the real estate markets of some world cities,” argues Zinnbauer.

David Cameron at an Anti-Corruption Summit convened after the Panama Papers leak. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
But a major anti-corruption summit held by David Cameron in the aftermath of the leaks largely ignored the urban dimension. “Internationally, there’s a big focus on macro initiatives and people just hope this will filter down to the city level, but it doesn’t happen like that,” says Anga Timilsina, programme manager at the UNDP’s Global Anti-Corruption Initiative. “It’s an area that needs much more attention.” Part of the problem is that identifying which cities are most exposed to corruption is a daunting task; although there has been some piecemeal regional research, at the moment there is no standalone corruption index for urban areas that spans the globe.

“Every methodology you could possibly use to measure urban corruption has its limitations, and is likely to reveal a certain type of corruption that is pertinent to some corrupt cities but largely unimportant in others,” adds Timilsina. “How do you compare apples and pears?”

Based on the fragmented data that is available though, a few cities do stand out. If we assume a direct correlation between national and city-level corruption, and restrict ourselves to Transparency International’s metric of asking experts to assess the degree of corruption among public institutions and employees, then it is largely cities in war-torn states – where normal governance mechanisms have been suspended and delivery of education, healthcare and other municipal services highly disrupted – that fare worst: Mogadishu in Somalia, Kabul in Afghanistan, and Juba in South Sudan. In Libya and Iraq, which both sit in the bottom 10 of the Corruption Perceptions Index, military conflict is entwined with an abundance of oil reserves, which generates extra incentives for corrupt practices in cities like Tripoli and Baghdad.

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Corruption Currents: Congressman Convicted on Corruption Charges

Corruption Currents: Congressman Convicted on Corruption Charges | Global Corruption |
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) was convicted of all corruption charges against him, including bribery, racketeering, fraud and money laundering. (Politco)

The CEO of a Latvian construction firm was arrested on bribery allegations. He didn’t appear to be contacted. (Baltic Times)

What’s the difference between bribery and honest graft? (NY Times)

Peru is requesting to join the OECD’s anti-bribery group. (Andina)

A Trinidadian court threw out a U.S. application to join a fight over the extradition of former FIFA official Jack Warner to face corruption charges. (Jamaica Observer, Newsday Trinidad)

Two former South Korean soccer referees were charged with bribery; they didn’t appear to be contacted. (Korea Times)

In local politics: A Malaysian lawmaker was arrested in a bribery case; he denied the allegations. (Bernama)


Hackers brought in by the Pentagon found 138 security gaps, the defense secretary said. (AP)

A hacker siphoned more than $50 million from a virtual currency project, threatening the future of the blockchain. (NY Times, Quartz)
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Guatemala's Government Corruption Scandals Explained

Guatemala's Government Corruption Scandals Explained | Global Corruption |
In 2015, then Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti were arrested following revelations into a customs fraud network they allegedly oversaw. Since then, the pair have been implicated in a number of other corruption cases in a process largely driven by the Guatemalan Attorney General's Office and the United Nations-backed anti-impunity commission (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG), which have worked tirelessly to expose the nefarious dealings of an administration the CICIG likened to an organized crime syndicate.
Below, InSight Crime sorts through the often confusing and seemingly overlapping investigations to breakdown the four major corruption cases that involve the now disgraced former president and vice president.
'La Línea'
Guatemala's most prominent and well-known recent corruption case is that of "La Línea," which was the first major investigation into the Pérez Molina administration. The customs scandal led directly to the president's resignation and the jailing of both Pérez Molina and Baldetti.  
The scandal broke in April 2015, when Guatemalan authorities arrested nearly two-dozen current and former government officials for customs fraud. This included the head and former head of Guatemala's customs agency, the Superintendency of Tax Administration (Superintendencia de Administración Tributaria - SAT).
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Clinton Superdelegate Chaka Fattah Found Guilty on Corruption Charges

Clinton Superdelegate Chaka Fattah Found Guilty on Corruption Charges | Global Corruption |
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), a Hillary Clinton superdelegate, was convicted on Tuesday on corruption charges stemming from a racketeering conspiracy in which the congressman and four associates misappropriated thousands of dollars from federal, campaign, and charitable sources.

Fattah and four associates were indicted in July 2015 on 29 corruption charges including racketeering, bribery, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, and falsification of records, among other charges.

The Department of Justice said Fattah took an illegal $1 million loan from his failed Philadelphia mayoral bid in 2007 and disguised it as a loan to his consulting company.

At the end of the campaign, Fattah used a scheme to repay the loan through grants and charitable funds from his nonprofit, the Educational Advancement Alliance, and passed through two other companies. In order to pull off the scheme, sham contracts were created to conceal the contributions and repayment operation. False entries were made into accounting records, campaign finance disclosure statements, and tax returns.

Lobbyist Herbert Vederman, consultant Robert Brand, Fattah’s Congressional District Director Bonnie Bowser, and Educational Advancement Alliance CEO Karen Nicholas were charged along with Fattah.
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Corruption Currents: NYPD Officers Charged with Corruption

Corruption Currents: NYPD Officers Charged with Corruption | Global Corruption |
Guatemala’s former president and vice president face fresh corruption charges. They both deny the allegations. (BBC, AP)

The trial in a lawsuit by Libya’s sovereign wealth fund against Goldman continues. (Reuters)


Hired hackers were able to take complete control of Palantir. (BuzzFeed)


A former NBA player pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. (AP)

Money Laundering:

Heightened scrutiny over money-laundering compliance in Asia, where costs are reaching $2 billion a year,  may prove too much for smaller wealth managers. (Business Times, Reuters)

Scotland Yard is probing 70 bank accounts linked to a Pakistani political party for potential money laundering. The party has denied wrongdoing. (GEO, BBC)

Banco Santander was engulfed in Spanish probes of HSBC. (Bloomberg)

A former Mexican official who helped the U.S. bring down cartel leaders was himself arrested on money-laundering charges. He didn’t appear to be contacted. (San Antonio Express-News)

Peru’s first lady is barred from leaving the country amid a money-laundering probe, a judge ruled. (EFE, Peru Reports, Merco Press)

Latvian banks apparently tell companies how to use offshore firms to launder money. (OCCRP)

South Korea is probing alleged tax evasion. (Korea JoongAng Daily)

A lawyer was convicted of money laundering after a confidential informant recorded their conversations. (ABA Journal, press release)


U.S. lawmakers object to a deal between Boeing and Iran. (Reuters, AP)

Terrorism Finance:

Saudi Arabia is taking extra steps to ensure bank transfers to Lebanon don’t benefit Hezbollah. (Asharq Awasat)


The OECD is considering a blacklist for defiant tax havens. (Nikkei)

The IRS opened up its data on nonprofits. (Sunlight)

The end of banking secrecy is seen in shuttered Swiss banks. (Bloomberg)


Canada is set to launch a paid whistleblower program.  (Financial Post)
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Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán | Issue 114 | Philosophy Now

Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán | Issue 114 | Philosophy Now | Global Corruption |
Given that philosophy makes use of logic, and criminals often act in a chaotic and illogical manner, do you think the former can be used to help make sense of the latter?

Absolutely. First, because logic is the main tool for understanding our social world, and crime is a social phenomenon. Second, because crime is not only and always chaotic. Crime generates social chaos, but the most sophisticated criminals do not behave in a chaotic way. Successful criminals are highly trained, control their emotions, and maximize profits while minimizing costs and risks. My first book in Spanish, for instance, was about analysing crime in Colombia as a rational behaviour.

You’ve contested the idea that crime is primarily about the actions of individuals. Can you say a bit about that?

Judicial systems – penal codes and penal institutions – are often designed to investigate, prosecute and judge crimes that involve a single victim or a small number of victims, and a single or small number of victimizers. However, in some societies, massive human victimization happens through systemic crimes, such as the forced displacement of population, massive sexual violence against women, or the forced recruitment of children. Those situations are generated by criminal systems, not by an individual.

The idea that crime is only about the action of individuals is naïve and has negative effects. Policy-makers and enforcement agents focus resources on chasing individual criminals – usually the crime lord of the moment – while in reality, complex networks of bankers, politicians, and public servants sustain crime. With this in mind, serious and harmful crime is not only about the action of individuals or pure criminals, but about the action of hundreds or thousands of ‘grey agents’ who operate within otherwise lawful institutions.

Our brains have a limit on the size of the social networks we can be comfortably familiar with. This is known as Dunbar’s number: the number of individuals and roles we can identify in our social network is about 150-200. Macro-criminal networks, such as are found in transitional justice trials, are networks in which thousands of individuals interact, so without computational tools we cannot understand them. It’s almost impossible for a single investigator, attorney, or judge, to understand those situations.
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How Latin America is getting to grips with corruption

How Latin America is getting to grips with corruption | Global Corruption |
There seems to be no shortage of headlines at the moment alleging corruption and misconduct across Latin America’s leading economies. Would this be an indication that corruption has reached an all time high? Or is this an indication that the key elements of democracy, free press, independent prosecution and the rule of law are working effectively? I chose the latter.

It is also clear that attitudes are hardening. What may be considered by some an accepted part of doing business in the region has gradually been recognized as a major impediment to progress and prosperity since Latin America has emerged as a leading destination for global investment. The region and its people have ambitions for modernization of systems and structures, and this is shown, among others, by the introduction of new laws and regulations designed to help tackle these conduct challenges more effectively.

Recent measures, such as the Anti-Money Laundering legislation launched in Mexico in 2012 and the Anti-Bribery Law introduced in Brazil in 2014, are necessary steps toward curbing corrupt practices, but in order for Latin America to truly prosper, a spotlight must be placed on tackling the more deep rooted tolerance of corruption and its true cost to the region.

At the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2015 we are addressing both the means to eliminate corruption as well as the economic and social development costs that impact businesses and communities across Latin America.

The starting point should be a public, private and societal dialogue about the cost of doing business, the waste of public resources, as well as the social and economic exclusion produced by misconduct and deviation of public resources. In addition, there must be a realization that as the rule of law and its enforcement are undermined so is public trust in institutions and leaders.

To remain competitive in the global economy, a new era of leadership in Latin America based on integrity, transparency and compliance must emerge and change the existing culture of tolerance among many public and private sector managers and the public in general.

Anti corruption requires a shared responsibility among all leaders in society, and as new regulations and models for transparency are introduced, there must be a general sense of accountability and obligation to ensure that we are all moving in the right direction.

Latin America has benefited from some boom years. But  continued long term economic growth will depend on its ability to follow high norms and standards of doing business. With expansion and modernization comes increased scrutiny. Ultimately, the threat of rampant corruption, real or perceived, could delegitimize the regulatory framework of our markets, prompting business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors around the world to look elsewhere.
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Global co-ordination key to anti-corruption fight, says World Bank MD | Public Finance

Global co-ordination key to anti-corruption fight, says World Bank MD | Public Finance | Global Corruption |
Fighting corruption requires renewed global coordination and more effective mechanisms that make use of novel technology, information and opportunities for openness, the World Bank’s managing director and chief administrative officer has said.

Speaking at an event in France yesterday, Shaolin Yang said greater effort to implement international anti-corruption initiatives and stronger accountability and transparency, such as through public registers of beneficial ownership, will be key.

“Reducing corruption is a global and systemic issue,” he said. “How then can we think in a new and fresh way about how to address it more effectively?

“What has changed in the world is advances in technology and the availability of information and these give us important new tools in the fight against corruption.”

He said that clarity and transparency of public programmes and their intended results, developed in a way that involves citizens, can go “a long way”.

He pointed to how newspapers publishing the amount of designated resources to local schools in Uganda ensured money went where it was supposed to, and said “building public registries of the beneficial owners of companies is a vital tool in helping to reduce corruption”.

“Corruption is frequently the cause of the illicit flow of funds, which is facilitated by lack of information on the true owners of companies,” he stressed, applauding countries that have established public registers.

Governments should also insist on clarity over the true owners of companies involved in the implementation of public programmes and contracts, Yang continued, and emphasised the importance of open contracting as one of the newer and potentially “most effective” anti-corruption tools. 

“More information on contracts can help assure that services and projects are delivered at a reasonable cost and within a reasonable time frame... [as well as] help reduce the capture of the state, strengthen value for money and ultimately improve service delivery.”

Technology is another important aspect, he added, highlighting how electronic cash transfers have cut out corrupt middlemen, sped up payments and better ensured money gets to who is supposed to receive it.

Accountability mechanisms should work to bring different people together, Yang said, with individuals, civil society groups and communities able to participate in oversight and monitoring.

Different systems in the fight against corruption, from strong institutions, to asset recovery initiatives, should be brought together too in order to enhance their impact, he added.

“This includes the geo-tagging of public assets, to open contracting, to the creation of audit processes that bring together formal and non-traditional forms of auditing.”
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Corruption Currents: U.K. Uses U.S. Tactics in Bank Anti-Bribery Probes

Corruption Currents: U.K. Uses U.S. Tactics in Bank Anti-Bribery Probes | Global Corruption |

Panama Papers: Iceland is still concerned about the leak; its top presidential candidate promised a break from the past. A Canadian businessman named in the leak was honored. A guide on sidestepping New Zealand disclosure requirements is here. (Iceland Review, Financial Times, Toronto Star, RadioNZ)


A tipster lost his job after criticizing conditions at an offshore detention center. (Guardian)

General Anti-Corruption:

Rome’s first woman mayor pledged to fight against corruption. (Irish Examiner)

The New York Police Department scandal continues to reveal new twists. The NYPD has a checkered history in the Borough Park area of Brooklyn. (Atlantic, DNAInfo, Newsday, NY Times)

Guatemala’s corruption scandals are explained here. (iSight)

Egypt fired its top auditor, and now it plans the same for his daughter. (Washington Post)

What parts of the Brazilian government don’t have corruption problems? (Washington Post)

A jailed Brazilian executive will testify against the former president at her impeachment trial. (Guardian)

Montreal’s inspector general released reports finding corruption in contracting. (CBC)

“Wasta,” a practice of involving influential family members in business decisions, encourages corruption in Saudi Arabia, a study found. (Gulf Business)
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Chilean politician put under house arrest in wide corruption scandal

Chilean politician put under house arrest in wide corruption scandal | Global Corruption |
A Chilean court ordered that a prominent former senator be placed under nighttime house arrest, while authorities investigate him for possible tax fraud and bribery.

Pablo Longueira, who was a presidential candidate in Chile's 2013 election, is accused by prosecutors of receiving close to $1 million from specialty mining company SQM from 2009 to 2013, then hiding the donations through falsified receipts in contravention of Chilean law. He also is accused of accepting bribes while working on a 2010 law that regulates mining concessions.

The order for Longueira's arrest came late on Wednesday night, six days after a court jailed conservative senator Jaime Orpis after he was convicted of falsifying donation receipts.

It also comes the day after Chile's public prosecutor said it was investigating a former high-level cabinet official in leftist President Michelle Bachelet's government for bribery and tax offenses.

Longueira has maintained his innocence.

"I understand the charges and I don't agree with them," he said during a brief appearance before a judge.

The current scandal caused Longueira to resign in March from the UDI party, which was founded by right-wing allies of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
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Will the US side with Venezuelans or their corrupt and incompetent government? 

Since his disputed election in 2013, Maduro has jailed political opponents and used gangs of militants to crush dissent. As insecurity and scarcity of food and medicine worsened, Maduro’s Socialist Party suffered a crushing defeat in National Assembly elections last December. The institutional military insisted that Maduro accept those results, but he packed the Supreme Court with loyalists to nullify virtually any act by the Assembly.

The Assembly has initiated a constitutional “revocatory referendum” to allow voters to decide whether the president should finish his term. The opposition quickly gathered 1.8 million signatures (nine times the requisite number) needed to advance this solution. In light of the massive popular response and opinion polls suggesting that Maduro would lose a recall vote, electoral authorities loyal to him may seek to delay or prevent a referendum.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has issued a lengthy report detailing Maduro’s undemocratic actions, describing the humanitarian crisis, and endorsing the referendum. Almagro has invoked Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which authorizes the secretary general to bring democratic breaches to the attention of the 34 OAS member states.

By advocating a peaceful, democratic, and constitutional solution — in the form of a revocatory referendum — Secretary General Almagro is attempting to rally the region to keep faith with the Venezuelan people. After weeks of delay, the OAS will meet Thursday to discuss Almagro’s recommendation that the OAS press the Venezuelan government to respect its own constitution. Invocation of the Democratic Charter does not mean the “suspension” of Venezuela from the OAS. However, if the Maduro government resists OAS involvement, any plan of action would require the backing of 18 of the 34 member states to overcome the regime’s objections.
Venezuelans from across the political spectrum know that a way out of the current crisis can be found in their constitution.

One would expect US diplomats to help to rally majority support for the solutions endorsed by Secretary Kerry. The senior responsible US official, Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, rushed to Caracas Tuesday to meet with Maduro. It remains to be seen whether the United States seeks to placate Maduro yet again or energetically support a solution that will ameliorate the suffering of 30 million desperate Venezuelans.
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What Are The World's Most Corrupt Countries?

How Corrupt Is Brazil? Subscribe! From politicians to police officers, corruption has plagued countrie
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The Corruption Probe at a Glance

The Corruption Probe at a Glance | Global Corruption |
The arrests Monday of three New York City police officers and a businessman with ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio are part of a broader federal investigation into alleged police corruption, the mayor’s fundraising activities and financial dealings between the city’s correction officers’ union and a hedge fund.

Here are three main branches of the investigation, which is being led by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department.


The probe into possible police corruption has focused, in part, on two businessmen, Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, both of whom raised money for Mr. de Blasio. About a dozen NYPD officers, including a number of senior officials, have been placed on modified duty or transferred from their posts as part of the probe. Three of those officers were arrested Monday along with Mr. Reichberg. An attorney representing Mr. Reichberg said he did nothing wrong. Mr. Rechnitz is cooperating with investigators.


The NYPD investigation is connected to probes by the Manhattan district attorney and federal authorities into Mr. de Blasio’s campaign fundraising, including efforts by the mayor and his allies to raise money for Democratic state Senate candidates in 2014. Investigators are looking at whether the mayor and his team sought to evade contribution limits or tried to disguise the true name of contributors. More broadly, the authorities are examining whether any official government action was taken in exchange for contributions to a nonprofit run by the mayor’s allies. The probe is among several investigations focusing on Mr. de Blasio’s donors and his fundraising apparatus. The mayor has denied any wrongdoing, and no members of his administration or fundraising team have been charged.
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Brazil speaker refuses to quit, denies corruption charges

Brazil speaker refuses to quit, denies corruption charges | Global Corruption |
Brazil's suspended House speaker, Eduardo Cunha, denied any criminal wrongdoing on Tuesday and said he will not resign, even though he has already been indicted for corruption and faces the risk of imminent arrest.

The Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Cunha last month on charges of obstructing a corruption investigation, just weeks after he orchestrated the approval of impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff in the lower house of Congress.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the veteran politician denied he was seeking a plea bargain with prosecutors to obtain leniency.

"I have not committed any crime, so I have nothing to tell," said Cunha, still defiant despite his alleged ties to the sweeping scandal involving Petrobras, Brazil's state-oil company, in which dozens of government officials and lawmakers are suspected of taking bribes and kickbacks.

Cunha is the first sitting lawmaker to be indicted in the two-year-old scandal by the Supreme Court, the only tribunal authorized to try federal lawmakers. It indicted Cunha in March for allegedly receiving $5 million skimmed from Petrobras contracts for two drillships in 2006 and 2007.

A Congressional ethics committee last week recommended stripping Cunha of his seat and banning him from politics for eight years for lying about Swiss bank accounts. The full chamber is expected to expel him in mid-July.

If he loses his seat, Cunha will lose partial immunity and his case will be sent from the Supreme Court to a lower court judge presiding over most of the graft probe, Sergio Moro, who has already indicted his wife for receiving bribe money.
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Chile public prosecutor investigates former minister for bribery

Chile's public prosecutor said on Tuesday it was investigating a former high-ranking cabinet official in President Michelle Bachelet's government for bribery and tax offenses related to counsel provided to London-listed mining company Antofagasta Minerals.

Jorge Insunza was appointed secretary general minister, a post which includes whipping congressional votes for the president, in May 2015. He stepped down a month later amid a wave of criticism by lawmakers about counsel he had provided mining companies while a congressman.

Public prosecutor for Santiago's eastern district, Manuel Guerra, told CNN Chile that Insunza was being investigated for counsel he provided Antofagasta Minerals through his company Virtus Consultores between 2007 and 2014, when he was a member of the Lower Chamber of Congress. During a portion of that time, he presided over the lower house's mining commission.

"This investigation has been opened by us based on records we have in our power and which we have analyzed that show that monies were paid for counsel on issues related to mining by the former congressman Jorge Insunza," Guerra said.

An official in the prosecutor's office, who declined to be named, confirmed that it was opening an investigation.

Antofagasta Minerals tweeted that it would "collaborate with all the information that is being requested of them, convinced that it did not commit a crime."
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New Brazil Corruption Scandal Could Implicate 30% of Lawmakers

New Brazil Corruption Scandal Could Implicate 30% of Lawmakers | Global Corruption |

Two top executives from Brazil's Odebrecht and OAS construction multinationals, which stand at the center of a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal, are in competition to secure a plea bargain from federal authorities which could implicate a staggering 29 percent of the nation's elected officials, Brazilian media outlets reported Sunday.

The legal defendants of Marcelo Odecrecht told the press Sunday that their client has already agreed to participate in a deal that would implicate over 175 deputies and senators from the 594 currently serving in the National Congress.

However, Odebrecht is also in competition with his former business rival Leo Pinheiro, a former executive with OAS, since prosecutors have indicated they may only issue one plea bargain deal.

As part of the agreement, Brazilian authorities are requesting that both Odebrecht and Pinheiro provide new information and concrete testimonies to help prove that Brazilian politicians accepted bribes and in exchange granted government infrastructure contracts to the companies of Odebrecht and OAS.

In 2014, Odebrdecht built highways, shipyards, airports, subways and venues for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, netting a total revenue of US$46 billion.

The Brazilian task force in charge of carrying out these investigations believes that Odebrecht and Pinheiro can provide details of around US$13 billion in dirty contracts.

According to Odebrecht’s legal team, the preliminary terms of his plea bargain will include testimony and evidence linking hundreds of Brazil’s most powerful politicians in the illegal bribery scheme, including current President Michel Temer.

Temer, who earlier this week was officially implicated in separate corruption allegations, has already seen three of his newly appointed ministers resign over their involvement in corruption charges.

The exact terms of Odebrecht's plea bargain are still being negotiated with authorities but are also expected to include evidence showing the participation of nearly 50 company executives who had, at different times, some level of participation in the "illicit and illegal financing" of political activities scheme.

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Watch 'Dirty Little Secrets,' the Panama Papers Documentary

Watch 'Dirty Little Secrets,' the Panama Papers Documentary | Global Corruption |
In this hourlong documentary, Fusion enters a secretive underworld of money and power that affects our lives in ways we are only just beginning to see.
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The History of Urbanization, 3700 BC - 2000 AD >>> As the human race has expanded across the planet, corruption has accompanied it worsening as towns grew into cities and cities into massive urban ...

This map visualizes the history of urban settlements over 6000 years.
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Corruption in Latin America is skyrocketing. Here's why that’s good news

Corruption in Latin America is skyrocketing. Here's why that’s good news | Global Corruption |
In Brazil, the Petrobras scandal – described as “one of the most astonishing corruption schemes ever to be uncovered” – culminated in March with calls to impeach President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio da Silva.

Many other leaders have been embroiled in the crisis, which saw politicians taking kickbacks in exchange for state contracts. By the time it came to light, $5 billion had been lost to corruption.

Elsewhere in the region, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s popularity took a big hit after her family was involved in a high-profile corruption scandal. More recently, Argentina’s former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was indicted for meddling with the country’s central bank. And in Guatemala, former president Otto Perez Molina will stand trial for allegedly masterminding a scheme under which bribes were paid to customs officials.

A long history of corruption

Of course, none of this is new to the region. As the Economist wrote in a special report on the issue, “resistance to corruption in Latin America has a long and largely futile history”.

Every year, when Transparency International releases its Corruption Perception Index, Latin American countries consistently appear towards the bottom. And it’s a scourge that affects large proportions of the population – as many as 30% of people in some countries.

Perhaps that’s why until now, people in the region have turned a blind eye. “Latin Americans have historically tended to be tolerant of pilfering politicians,” writes Luis Alberto Moreno of the Inter-American Development Bank.
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What next for the anti-corruption effort? | Public Finance

What next for the anti-corruption effort? | Public Finance | Global Corruption |
If richer countries want to truly be seen as bastions of transparency and really help the world’s poorest, this is how to do it; with the help of public finance staff. While the policy change is mainly directed at the EU at present, this is an international issue that could have ramifications on businesses that are based all over the world.

Those working in the public finance sector must always be seeking to improve due diligence benchmarks and push for the utmost standards of transparency, above and beyond going by ‘what the book says’. If staff are pushing for governments to be more open it strikes a chord stronger than any campaigner and together our united voices can win the battle for global transparency.

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the actions of rich countries do not negatively impact the world’s poorest. Corruption is not an insurmountable problem; we know the policies that will tackle it. But it will take businesses, civil society and public finance staff to work on the problem in equal measure to truly make a difference and end corruption once and for all.
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Ex-Guatemalan president and VP charged in corruption scheme

Ex-Guatemalan president and VP charged in corruption scheme | Global Corruption |

Guatemala's former president and vice president were formally charged Thursday in a sprawling corruption scheme that allegedly emptied government coffers and laundered money to be spent on Miami shopping sprees, real estate and luxury vehicles.

Seventy people, including former President Otto Perez Molina and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti, are accused in the arrangement involving illegal financing, embezzlement and money laundering, said Prosecutor Julio Barrios Prado.

"That money was used to buy goods and services for you and Baldetti including real estate and luxury vehicles, as well as $4.3 million in gifts," Barrios said to Perez Molina during the hearing.

Barrios said Perez Molina, who won the presidency in 2012, received millions of dollars in illegal financing through shell companies that made it appear legitimate. Money was shared with Baldetti and her private secretary Juan Carlos Monzon, who is now a cooperating witness for the government.

Baldetti also allegedly received $38 million in kickbacks between 2009 and 2015 for at least 70 public works contracts. Prosecutors allege she bought clothes, jewels, paid employees and traveled on the ill-gotten funds. In one trip to Miami, she allegedly spent more than $27,000 on shoes and clothing, including the brands Jimmy Choo, Hermes and Alexander McQueen.

Perez Molina and Baldetti are already jailed pending trial for another scheme in which companies paid bribes to avoid customs duties. That case led to their resignations.

They have both denied the accusations against them.

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