When Barack Obama was elected president, Governor Blagojevich of Illinois saw opportunity in the vacancy created in the U.S. Senate. "I've got this thing and it's f------ golden, and uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for f------ nothing," he allegedly said, according to U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago. Fitzgerald has the governor's recorded conversations demanding $500,000 to a million dollars to sell the senate seat.

How ironic! The governor of a major American state that is sending its senator to the White House as president got charged with massive corruption on Dec 9, 2008, the day designated as International Anti-Corruption Day by the United Nations.

This latest corruption scandal in the United States confirms that corruption exists in all parts of the world to varying degrees, including the industrialized world. However, this report also illustrates that, unlike Pakistan and many other less developed countries, there is greater accountability in the West for the people in power. Official corruption is almost universal but the extent of corruption and the strength of anti-corruption enforcement measures vary widely. It is not the constitution or the laws on the books that make a difference; it's the independence of the career civil servants and the judiciary that differentiates the US system from what is observed in Pakistan and other developing nations. The US attorneys, for example, pursue investigations and prosecutions independently of the politicians who appoint them. The judges are appointed for life and they do not take dictation from politicians and their appointees either.

At the time of the recent India-US nuclear deal approval, members of India's parliament, including convicts released on parole, were offered all kinds of incentives to vote in a certain way. Both the government and the opposition tried desperately to entice them with promises of largess, influence and plum jobs in return for their vote. The BJP opposition, however, could not match the resources of the governing Congress party and the deal was approved.

There have been significant bribery allegations involving Indian politicians and officials and corporations such as Bofors, Enron and Xerox. The Swedish firm Bofors AB allegedly paid Rs.640 million ($13 million) in bribes to middlemen to get the contracts for the deal signed in 1986. Nearly a decade later, Enron India spent US$ 20 million in "educating" Indian bureaucrats about the role of private companies in power generation, an euphemism for bribes. Two telecommunications companies, Essar and Swisscom, were alleged to have paid a former minister, Sukh Ram, a hefty amount during early 1996 to help change the original license conditions, which it had signed with the Department of Telecommunications. Except Bofors, none have been prosecuted to any extent. Meanwhile, India's spending on defense procurement and infrastructure spending involving foreign companies has increased several fold without much scrutiny of how the deals are made.

Not only is there lack of accountability in the developing nations, it seems that corrupt politicians such as Pakistan's President Zardari, widely known as Mr. Ten Percent, get rewarded with high offices by the illiterate electorate living in a feudal society, with the assistance of amnesties arranged by the United States. It is what President Bush often describes as "soft bigotry of low expectations" when the West pushes for the pardon of corrupt politicians in countries such as Pakistan, in clear violation of the UN Conventions against Corruption. What is worse, such policies of condoning corruption are pursued in the name of promoting democracy in the third world.

The behavior of condoning corruption in the third world extends to the private sector as well, with American and European companies routinely engaging in bribery in Africa, Middle East and Asia. For example, Forbes reported last year on Siemens involvement in bribery in the developing world as follows: "The World Bank is looking at an electrical power plant project in Pakistan concluded in the mid-1990s, which was built and later partially maintained by Siemens and financed by the World Bank. The World Bank is concerned that Siemens' costs for the project may have been overpriced.Siemens is currently engulfed in a slush-fund scandal, in which prosecutors allege that managers siphoned off hundreds of millions of euros in company money to obtain foreign contracts.Siemens' own internal investigation uncovered 420 mln euros in suspicious payments going back to 1999 which may have been made to obtain telecommunications equipment contracts in a range of foreign countries. The Bavarian State Prosecutors office has said the sum is estimated in the triple-digit millions of euros." Subsequent to these reports, Daniel Noa, Siemens' top anti-corruption chief, stepped down after only six months at the company, with little explanation given.

There have also been reports from Munich about Siemens pleading guilty to bribing politicians and officials in Nigeria, Russia and Libya. Last month, Siemens said it would take a charge of about 1 billion euros ($1.29 billion) this fiscal year as part of a settlement of bribery investigations by authorities in Germany and the United States.I believe such reports represent only the tip of the iceberg of corruption involving Western multi-nationals and politicians and officials in developing nations.

There are definitely laws on the books in the West such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in the United States. Almost all ethics classes taught in the Western management schools and company training courses cover this topic. However, the question is whether these laws are really enforced and how often are the companies held accountable? Or do they simply rely on the foreign governments to report misbehavior? It would be a fantasy to expect the officials and politicians on the receiving end to report incidents of bribery as they are the main beneficiaries. But I think the German, French, US, British and other governments of developed nations who claim higher moral positions should be cracking down on these reprehensible practices just to enforce their own laws and live up to their own higher standards. While it may be argued and it is like putting the shoe on the wrong foot, I see it as the only hope we have of containing such widespread corruption in developing nations that is robbing their people blind.

Related Links:

Corruption in Pakistan

Transparency International Survey 2007

Is Siemens Guilty?

Zardari Corruption Probe

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Two former #Pakistan Generals punished in NLC corruption case by Military under Army Act: #ISPR http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/two-former-generals-punishe...

RAWALPINDI (Staff Report) – Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Wednesday said the two accused retired General Officers of Pakistan Army have been punished under the Pakistan Army Act in the light of inquiry conducted after violations were observed in NLC in 2009.

According to details the dismissal of Major-General (r) Khalid Zahir Akhter, implies forfeiture of rank, decorations, medals, honours, awards, seizure of pension, recovery of personal gains, cancellation of service benefits and all other allied facilities including medical whereas Lt-General (r) Muhammad Afzal has been awarded “Severe Displeasure” which in essence is a disciplinary award due to an offence of lesser degree.

On the other hand Lt-General (r) Khalid Munir Khan has not been found involved in any financial irregularity or serious misconduct and therefore stands absolved from all charges, ISPR statement said.

The inquiry was initiated by Defense Ministry after National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee noted irregularities in the audit report of National Logistic Cell (NLC) in 2009.

Wanted by #US: The Stolen Millions of Despots and Crooked Elites. #Corruption #FCPA http://nyti.ms/1onZAEk 

It’s hard to imagine a public official with more toys than Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who spent $300 million on Ferraris, a Gulfstream jet, a California mansion and even Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket. The buying spree is all the more remarkable since this scion of the ruling family of Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s smallest countries, bought all this while on an official salary of $100,000 a year.

But legal action by the Justice Department has brought an end to Mr. Obiang’s spendthrift ways. His $30 million Malibu estate is on the market, as are his luxury cars and six life-size Jackson statues. Proceeds from these sales are earmarked for citizens of Equatorial Guinea, who prosecutors claim are victims of Mr. Obiang’s “relentless embezzlement and extortion.”

The turnabout in Mr. Obiang’s fortunes is part of an effort by the federal government to recover assets it says were stolen by foreign officials — dictators, politicians and ruling elites — and laundered in the United States. Since its start in 2010, the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative has grown to include a dozen government lawyers and teams from the F.B.I. and Homeland Security.

“We don’t want the United States to be a haven for this money,” said Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general and head of the criminal division. “If it comes into this country, we have the ability to reach out and grab it. Kleptocracy undermines the rule of law and breeds crime and terrorism.”

Yet for all this firepower, the Justice Department has found that bringing cases against kleptocrats has been daunting, and seizing their assets even harder still. A total of 25 cases have been brought against 20 foreign officials under the Kleptocracy initiative, and the government is seeking to seize $1.5 billion, mainly in American real estate and bank accounts. But most of that money remains in legal limbo.

The government is stepping up efforts to halt the flow of illicit money into the United States through stronger anti-money-laundering rules, investigations into secret buyers of high-end real estate and measures to identify owners of anonymous shell corporations used to hide financial transactions.

Government prosecutors have taken aim at funds held by officials from Nigeria, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Taiwan, Honduras and even Canada. One case involves $630 million once controlled by the late Sani Abacha, the strong-arm Nigerian general who ran the country in the 1990s and reportedly took billions from it.

Another seeks $250 million said to be embezzled by Pavlo Lazarenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who spent several years in an American prison on money-laundering charges. Then there is the glamorous Gulnara Karimova, the Harvard-educated daughter of the Uzbek president, who the government says absconded with $300 million from a telecom scheme and parked it in an American bank’s overseas branch.


In violation of a court order, Mr. Obiang whisked some of his holdings out of the United States and put them on display back home — including Michael Jackson’s famous white jewel-encrusted glove and all of his gold and platinum albums.

“Despite the efforts of some Western institutions to prevent these objects from coming to our country, justice has returned them to their authentic owner” an Equatorial Guinea government website says. Gone, too, is the $38.5 million Gulfstream jet — it flew away.

There are concerns that the money might end up in the Obiang family’s pockets. But the United States may have little choice. “No one is confident that this will work perfectly,” said Kenneth Hurwitz, senior legal officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative. “But that’s still better than if the U.S. didn’t try.”

Here are a couple of excerpts from "Playing with Fire" by Pamela Constable:

"Sugar is critical commodity in a country (Pakistan) where people consume vast amounts of sweet tea, soft drinks, and cakes, using about 4 million metric tons of sugar a year. .....Sugar is also very profitable. Pakistan is among the top five producers of sugar cane in the world, employing more than two million seasonable laborers at harvest time, and sugar refining is the second largest agribusiness after flour milling. According to National Accountability Bureau, a majority of country'd eighty-plus sugar mills are owned by political families, including Sharifs and Bhuttos, as well as members of parliament and several military-controlled enterprises."

"In Pakistan, the sugar industry is actually a political industry in which powerful politicians on all sides are involved", said a 2009 statement from the Sugar Mills Workers Federation that described how the big millers cheat mall growers through fake middlemen, then manipulate sugar prices by pressuring the government to stimulate or discourage exports depending on how much cane has been harvested."

"Throughout the 1990s, during two periods of rule by Sharifs and two by his archrial Benazir Bhutto, the privatization process became a game of grab and run. Investing of investing in solid projects, many business groups colluded with corrupt officials to make quick profits. They borrowed huge sums (from state-owned banks) without collateral, created and dissolved ghost factories, purchased state assets at token prices, avoided paying taxes, defaulted on shaky loans, or deferred paying them indefinitely....Major defaulters and beneficiaries of loan write-offs, granted by both the Bhuttos and Sharif governments, included some of Pakistan's wealthiest business families-- Manshas, Saigols, Hashwanis, Habibs, Bhuttos and Sharifs......using the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the (Musharraf) regime (after year 2000) went to prosecute eighteen hundred cases of corruption to recover nearly $3.4 billion in assets."


#US government fines #Boston firm $4 million for bribing #NHAI officials in #India. The FCPA Blog - The FCPA Blog https://shar.es/1BP2Cd 
Privately held CDM Smith Inc. entered into a declination with disgorgement Thursday with the Justice Department to resolve FCPA offenses in India.

The DOJ said employees and agents of CDM Smith and a wholly owned subsidiary in India paid $1.18 million in bribes to government officials. In return, the company won highway construction supervision and design contracts and a water project contract.

The Boston-based company made profits of $4 million from the tainted contracts.

The enforcement action is the seventh under the FCPA Pilot Program since the DOJ adopted it in April 2016. The program gives companies incentives to self-disclose, cooperate, and remediate FCPA violations.

Companies that qualify can receive a 50 percent discount on fines they might face under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

CDM Smith has about 5,000 employees worldwide. Revenues were $1.2 billion in 2015. It provides engineering and construction services.

The DOJ said the bribery in India occurred from 2011 until 2015.

The illegal payments for the highway contracts were generally 2 percent to 4 percent of the contract price. The bribes were paid through "fraudulent subcontractors who provided no actual services and understood that payments were meant to solely benefit the officials," the DOJ said.

The company also paid $25,000 to local officials in the Indian state of Goa for a water project contract.

"All senior management at CDM India . . . were aware of the bribes . . . and approved or participated in the misconduct," the DOJ said.

CDM Smith agreed to disgorge $4.03 million. It "acknowledged" that it can't take a tax deduction for the disgorged funds.

The DOJ said it closed the investigation under the Pilot Program because CDM Smith disgorged its profits, made a timely voluntary self disclosure, did a comprehensive investigation, gave full cooperation, enhanced its compliance program, and fired all executives and employees involved in the FCPA offenses.

The declination with disgorgement from the DOJ to CDM Smith Inc. is here (pdf).




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