1.34 million Chinese officials punished in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive

BEIJING: Over a million grassroots-level Chinese officials have been punished in the sweeping anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping, which also effectively helped to consolidate his power.

Ahead of this month’s key National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), its top disciplinary watchdog said around 1.34 million grassroots-level party officials around the country had been punished since the party’s 2012 meeting during which Xi was elected leader of the party.

source : http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2017/oct/08/134-million-chinese-officials-punished-in-xi-jinpings-anti-corruption-drive-1668712.html

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Behind Nigeria’s failed anti-corruption wars by Christopher Akor

Last week I had argued on this page, in response to Olu Fasan’s argument that the “onus of proof” puts excessive legal and evidential burden on the prosecution in corruption and helps to frustrate the anti-corruption fight, that what appears, to me, to derail anticorruption cases in Nigeria is the lack of political will or, more appropriately, the politicization of the anti-corruption war. I gave two examples of the cases involving the Senate President and Godswill Orubebe where the aim was purely political – to remove Saraki from office and tarnish the name of Orubebe – and has got nothing to do with their being corrupt.
I feel obliged to elaborate on my argument last week that the solution to the lackluster anti-corruption war of the Nigerian government is not in the reversal of the burden of proof but in its complete depoliticisation. Let me explain.
By the time the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established in 2003, Nigeria had become notorious in the comity of nations and the global business community a haven of advanced fee fraud (popularly known as 419 in Nigeria) and a country that nurtured and encouraged citizens as criminals. There were serious pressures from the international community, especially the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering for Nigeria to do something about the crime. So great was the pressure – and also because president Obasanjo was so desperate for foreign investment – that he set up and empowered the EFCC to investigate and prosecute cases of financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419) and money laundering.
The EFCC under Ribadu went after the fraudsters – Adedeji Alumile, Fred Ajudua, Emmanuel Nwude, Amaka Anajemba, Nzeribe Edeh Okoli etc – were all arrested, prosecuted, convicted and jailed for advance fee fraud, stealing, extortion and money laundering. The fear of the EFCC became the beginning of wisdom for the perpetrators of such crimes. The international community took notice and was willing to do business, once again, with Nigeria. All these while, Nigerians – both politicians and ordinary citizens – were unanimous in their praise of the EFCC and there was no mention of bias by the EFCC. Most crucially, the EFCC went through the whole gamut of thorough investigation and prosecution of the accused professionally and diligently and was able to secure conviction for most of the fraudsters.
Seeing the successes the EFCC recorded in the fight against advance fee fraud and money laundering, Obasanjo promptly drafted the commission into investigating and prosecuting corruption cases against politicians. That was fine and most needed. However, he could not resist the temptation to use the EFCC to fight political battles or threaten his political opponents while preventing the same commission from going after his cronies/loyalists who were variously accused or have openly confessed to corrupt deeds– and it was at that instance that the war against corruption of his administration collapsed. He turned the effective EFCC in an attack dog, threatening and harassing political opponents that the commission lost its knack for thorough investigation and prosecution. 
Obasanjo was also enjoying the successes of the EFCC and the positive reviews it was receiving both locally and abroad that he decided to make the anti-corruption fight a media show – accusing, prosecuting and convicting people in the media and receiving praises as the Nigerian messiah. 
I will never forget the night of Tuesday, March 22, 2005, when Obasanjo commandeered all radio and television stations in the country to make a prime-time broadcast in which, without restraints, he accused the Senate President, Adolphus Wabara and six other lawmakers of demanding and collecting a bribe of N55 million naira from the Minister of Education in order to increase the ministry’s 2005 budget. He also accused his Education Minister, Fabian Osuji, the permanent secretary and five other directors in the ministry of collusion to bribe members of the National Assembly. He promptly fired Osuji, suspended the civil servants and referred all of them to the Economic and Financials Crime Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related commission for onward prosecution.
The publicity and praise for the ‘anti-corruption war’ of the former President was unprecedented. Nigerians and foreigners alike praised Obasanjo to high heavens and condemned the corrupt officials. The Nigerian media, for weeks, analysed the matter with most passing the ‘guilty’ verdict on the accused. Very few, if any, bothered to question the motive of the president and why he had to be the prosecutor and judge on the same case.
Besides, perhaps only few perceptive Nigerians saw the incident as an embarrassment and negative publicity Nigeria did not need at the time. If the president had concrete evidence(s) of corruption against the officials, he should have passed it/them over to the police or better still, the anti-corruption agencies to do their work and not embarrass the nation before the world with such an uncouth broadcast that portrayed Nigeria as a haven of corruption.
Interestingly, the allegations have not been proved till this day. When the civil servants were investigated by the Federal Civil Service Commission prior to their being disciplined and sent for trial, they were found innocent. None of them was charged to court for the alleged offence and they all returned to their duty posts. For the six lawmakers charged to court, none of them was convicted. The cases were all thrown out of court for lack of evidence.
Sadly, successive administrations have copied from the Obasanjo manual of fighting corruption – and their anti-graft wars have all come to naught. Have we forgotten how, in May 2010, after it appears that the then National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was not in support of President Jonathan running for the presidency and wanted the party to honour its zoning arrangement that zoned the presidency to the north in 2011, he was promptly arraigned at an Abuja High Court on a 17 count criminal charge of N107 million fraud he was alleged to have committed in 2001 as a Minister. Of course, he promptly resigned (which was the real intent anyway). In 2014, he was discharged and acquitted.
Currently we have a government that is so determined of fighting corruption but he is quick, even without any investigations, to absolve his closest allies of corruption while hounding his opponents. There were grave and weighty corruption allegations against General Tukur Burutai, Chief of Army Staff, General Abdulrahman Dambazau, Minister of Interior and former Chief of Army Staff, Abba Kyari, and Chief of Staff to the President, Babachir Lawal, suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Even the Presidential panel set up to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015, and whose reports were being used to prosecute past military chiefs was hurriedly disbanded the moment it began moves to investigate the tenure of the Present National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno as Chief of Defence Intelligence between July 2009 and September 2011. The curious reason given by the government for its dissolution was that it has outlived its usefulness.
Besides appointing an incompetent attorney general – who, by the way, was also accused by Justice Ademola of pursuing a personal vendetta against him for disciplining him as a lawyer in Kano – and blackmailing the judiciary for not convicting accused persons being tried in court without any shred of evidence, the government has done nothing to improve its capacity to successfully investigate and prosecute corruption cases. It is more interested in fighting the war in the media.

source :: https://www.businessdayonline.com/behind-nigerias-failed-anti-corruption-wars/

Sun Zhengcai tipped as China’s future president ousted as Xi Jinping wields ‘iron discipline’

The Chinese operate on a different level. Zhengcai replaced Bo Xilai who had a spectacular fall from grace in 2013. Bo is now imprisoned for life and Sun’s fate seems similar.

He studied agriculture in rural England and was tipped by some as China’s future leader.

But on Tuesday morning Sun Zhengcai’s political obituary was splashed across the front page of the Communist party’s official mouthpiece in a damning editorial entitled: “Rule strictly over the party with iron discipline.”

“The investigation into comrade Sun Zhengcai sounds the alarm bell for the party,” the People’s Daily article warned, as it announced that the youngest member of China’s political elite had been ejected from power for a “serious violation of discipline”.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/25/china-future-president-ousted-xi-jinping-iron-discipline-sun-zhengcai

How Jamaican Parliament Could Change Controversial Clause In Anti-Corruption Bill

The Government is facing mounting pressure to remove a section of an anti-corruption bill that would allow Cabinet to designate some contracts ‘confidential’ and require that investigators seek permission before starting a probe.
For the National Integrity Action and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the section, which is part of Clause 52 of the Integrity Commission bill, is “unacceptable” and could undermine the purpose of the proposed law.
The bill was approved in the Senate last Thursday with 103 amendments, which means that it has to go back to the House of Representatives for further approval.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20170724/how-parliament-could-change-controversial-clause-anti-corruption-bill

OP-ED | THE URGENT NEED FOR A PUBLIC ANTI-CORRUPTION TASK FORCE IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

On June 30, 2017, the V.I. Inspector General issued a 76 page written report with scathing findings entitled Audit of the Department of Education’s Inventory Controls Over the School Lunch Program. Among these findings was that $920,000 had been spent on food management software and consultants but these huge expenditures did not correlate to any significant benefits to the School Lunch Program. In fact, the report concluded that the Program has not been “functioning in an efficient and effective manner” for decades and that has made it “susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse”. The direct results are that our children who are attending public schools as well as taxpayers suffer but the wrongdoers continue to benefit.

http://viconsortium.com/opinion/op-ed-the-urgent-need-for-a-public-anti-corruption-task-force-in-the-virgin-islands/

CORRUPTION CHOKING GUYANA’S DEVELOPMENT

Kaieteur News Editorial

Corruption in Guyana is entrenched and widespread and it is choking the country’s development. Serious consideration must be given to what lies ahead, should the government fail to decisively and aggressively confront corruption. For the past 15 years, Guyana has suffered from a perception that it is a highly corrupt country, and this is evident in the March 2017 report of the United States Department of State, which pointed to the magnitude and depth of corruption in the country.

In 2016, Transparency International (TI) Correction Perceptions Index (CPI) has ranked Guyana among the most corrupt countries in the world, with a score of 34 where zero means highly corrupt, and a score of 100 indicates that the state is not corrupt. It means that Guyana has moved up by 11 places from 119 and a score of 29 in 2015 to 108 and a score of 34 in 2016. When a country’s CPI falls below 40, it has reached a tipping point, where most government institutions are corrupt and in a state of relative dysfunction.

While this is not the case in Guyana, many Guyanese do not have a favorable view of the leadership or of some of the country’ most critical institutions, such as health and education. In 2015, the Global Corruption Barometer which assesses corruption in national institutions globally, found that most Guyanese felt the country’s police and parliamentarians are extremely corrupt.

The promises made by the last administration to strengthen the country’s anti-corruption frame-work were a sham because nothing of substance exists to effectively address the pervasive and endemic corruption that has afflicted the country. Since independence, only a few public officials have been jailed for corruption in Guyana by the Burnham government. No one has been jailed by the PPP administration, despite the massive increase in corruption. This is a striking phenomenon, which can only be interpreted as supporting the view that corruption and impunity in Guyana are deeply entrenched and widespread. Few expect that the much-heralded anti-corruption bill will advance the fight against corruption.

This administration is not blameless, either. Prior to entering office, it had committed in its election manifesto to bring an end to the incidence of rampant corruption in the country. Very importantly, it acknowledged that sustainable economic growth is not possible without combating corruption, whose costs are far-reaching. Corruption is a major concern for developing economies like Guyana, and the adverse socio-economic consequences it portends are substantial. Corruption impedes economic growth, undermines the rule of law, and tears down the fabric of society. It erodes the quality of life of citizens by diverting public funds away from critical social services, such as health care, education, water, roads and electricity.

It also leads to human rights violations, reduces investor confidence, stunts business activity, wipes out jobs, fuels migration, increases the price of goods and services, undermines and destroys confidence in public institutions, and enables organized crime and other threats to human security to flourish. And, yes, corruption also steals public funds. The current administration had said that Guyana will be developed only if corruption is tackled in an uncompromising manner. However, as is now well known, this is being done at a snail’s pace in spite of the fact that several forensic audit reports have found many public officials from the last administration culpable of corrupt practices.

It is of great concern to the general public that after two years in office, this administration has not yet honored its election anti-corruption commitments. Although many, including supporters of the coalition believe that the government knows precisely what must be done to arrest the tentacles of corruption, yet it appears that there is a lack of courage and political will to effectively implement some the corrective measures proffered in the forensic audit reports.

Breaking election promises goes to the root of credibility and trust and when our leaders act in this way, it erodes their credibility, trust and confidence that a believing electorate has reposed in them.

Taxpayers should have access to contracts if their money is involved – TIGI Head

If taxpayers’ moneys are involved in a national project, then it is only reasonable for them to be able to know the inner workings of the contracts governing the use of those moneys.

This perspective was recently put forward by Head of Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI), Dr. Troy Thomas, in an interview with Kaieteur News.

The anticorruption advocate opined that it does not make sense that government officials are able to know about these contracts and the taxpayers are left in the dark.

He believes that this state of affairs needs to be changed.

Some of the contracts which are yet to be released despite several requests by the media in the past two years include those with BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc, Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc. and the contract governing the Sanata Complex deal and the Marriott Hotel.

“Our position on contracts is that we shouldn’t have secret contracts. You can make exceptions for security issues because those are sensitive but why should the Marriott Contract be secret? Anything where taxpayers’ moneys are being used should not be subject to secrecy. Why are people in government so privileged to know about it and we, who are putting the money there and put them in the seat of government can’t know what it is?

“That does not make any sense. So that is an important issue for transparency. The more people are aware of these things, the more scrutiny a government can come under, and the less likely you are going to have certain things happening, corrupt acts happening.”

“I am not saying it is going to wipe it out but it is certainly going to make it much more difficult. So the refusal to release those things could be questioned,” the University of Guyana lecturer added.

http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2017/05/22/taxpayers-should-have-access-to-contracts-if-their-money-is-involved-tigi-head/