Corruption & crime November 2021-

Written by  //  October 28, 2022  //  Government & Governance, Justice & Law  //  No comments

Transparency International
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Pandora Papers
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
Suisse Secrets (OCCRP)
The Robber Barons of Beijing
More on corruption

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez Under Federal Investigation
In New Jersey, a federal prosecutor has issued dozens of subpoenas in a wide-ranging criminal investigation involving several people including U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. That’s according to NBC News, which reports the investigation also involves a company that’s authorized by the government of Egypt to certify exports of Halal food worldwide. Menendez is a Democrat and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 2017, prosecutors dropped corruption charges against him after a jury couldn’t agree on a verdict. In that case, Senator Menendez was accused of influence peddling on behalf of a New Jersey ophthalmologist in exchange for flights on a private jet, luxury hotel stays and six-figure campaign contributions

20 October
WHO Syria boss accused of corruption, fraud, abuse, AP finds
(AP) — Staffers at the World Health Organization’s Syrian office have alleged that their boss mismanaged millions of dollars, plied government officials with gifts — including computers, gold coins and cars — and acted frivolously as COVID-19 swept the country.
More than 100 confidential documents, messages and other materials obtained by The Associated Press show WHO officials told investigators that the agency’s Syria representative, Dr. Akjemal Magtymova, engaged in abusive behavior, pressured WHO staff to sign contracts with high-ranking Syrian government politicians and consistently misspent WHO and donor funds.
Complaints from at least a dozen personnel have triggered one of the biggest internal WHO probes in years, at times involving more than 20 investigators, according to staffers linked to the investigation.

29 September
The scandals and hypocrisy behind McKinsey’s sterling reputation
In their new book, investigative reporters Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe shatter the luminous image of McKinsey & Co. that has long attached to the consulting giant., a leading employment site, doesn’t exaggerate when it asserts that McKinsey “has achieved a near-universal level of renown.” …
A far different portrait emerges in Bogdanich and Forsythe’s “When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm.” The authors expose the firm’s unsavory work with fossil fuel companies, cigarette-makers, opioid distributors, regulatory agencies and autocratic regimes. In a masterful work of investigative journalism building on their reporting for the New York Times, Bogdanich and Forsythe pierce through McKinsey’s “culture of secrecy” — a process they describe as “akin to chasing shadows” — to unearth conflicts of interest, corruption, hypocrisy and strategic blunders that read like a prosecutor’s indictment.
When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm

21 September
Fat Leonard: Malaysian criminal in US Navy scandal recaptured after jail break
(BBC) A Malaysian businessman who scammed the US Navy in its biggest fraud scandal ever has been recaptured after he escaped house arrest two weeks ago.
Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard”, was captured in Venezuela attempting to board a flight to Russia.
Back story: US Navy officer ‘bribed by cash and prostitutes’

17 September
Spanish Police Dismantle Europe’s Largest Money Laundering Gang
(OCCRP) Spanish police arrested one of Europe’s biggest money launderers linked to an Irish criminal clan and dismantled the Spanish branch of his international network that used an ancient money exchange system to launder more than 200 million euro (US$199.26 million) in just over a year.
Law enforcement in several countries were looking for the organization’s commander in Spain, who is believed to be tied to the Irish Kinahan clan, according to a Thursday press release. He was arrested in Malaga on Monday.
Spanish Civil Guard launched an operation against the group in early 2021. The Spanish discovery indicated a widely spread international connection, which initiated an international operation.

6 September
‘Fat Leonard’ escapes weeks before sentencing in Navy bribery scandal
(WaPo) The Malaysian defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officials with sex parties, fancy dinners and alcohol in a massive corruption scandal has escaped just weeks before his sentencing date.
Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard” for his overshadowing frame, fled Sunday while under house arrest in San Diego, where he was awaiting a Sept. 22 hearing. A multiagency search by the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and Naval Criminal Investigative Service is underway, officials said.
Background: The man who seduced the 7th Fleet
his arrest exposed something else that is still emerging three years later: a staggering degree of corruption within the Navy itself.
He tempted his targets with the high life: whiskey, cigars, prostitutes and cash.
His moles fed him bundles of military secrets and law enforcement files.
All so he could rip off the Navy on an industrial scale for years and years.
Now, the depth of the corruption is being exposed as the investigation reaches into the highest ranks of the Navy.
New Details Revealed in ‘Fat Leonard’ Escape, Detention as Manhunt Continues

26 August
Inventing Anna: Ukrainian-Born Scammer Posed with Trump and Wandered Mar-a-Lago
Inna Yashchyshyn, a self-confessed grifter linked to a fraudulent charity, posed as a member of one of the world’s most famous banking families, gained access to Donald Trump’s Florida home, and mingled with top Republican
(OCCRP) Key Findings
Inna Yashchyshyn, alias Anna de Rothschild, was invited into Mar-a-Lago and posed as a member of the European banking dynasty.
Yashchyshyn is linked to a fake charity and other fraudulent ventures.
Her dealings are being investigated by law enforcement in both Canada and the U.S.
The revelations raise security concerns about how she was able to mix freely at Mar-a-Lago with the ex-president and other prominent political figures.

4 August
In the third of a series of interviews with the Queen Elizabeth II Academy faculty, Alex Cooley examines the challenges of reigning in kleptocratic networks.
Cracking down on kleptocracy
Kleptocracy literally means ‘rule by thieves’, and in contemporary usage refers to the plundering of economies and societies by political elites for their own personal gain.
(Chatham House) However, corrupt acts that may initially occur domestically are facilitated by a number of transnational actors and processes, many of them operating out of so-called ‘clean’ countries. At the end of the day, for a kleptocrat to profit from his or her stolen loot, they must store those funds where their value will be guaranteed by strong property rights protections. That means that the destination for kleptocrats is often the West, jurisdictions that enjoy rule of law, that have good financial services, and that guarantee privacy to client services.
…in the 1990s, as these institutions and tools of globalization proliferated, there was a chaotic economic transition underway in the former Soviet Union.
Economic transition in places like Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, transpired at the time of this financial deregulation, where there was a general perception that all capital account openness was good and that the international community assisted these countries with financial liberalization. The offshore dynamic is particularly pronounced in the post-Soviet countries because the state-building, regime consolidation, and reform of these economies coincided with this era of financial globalization.

11 July
Uber leveraged violent attacks against its drivers to pressure politicians
In push for global expansion, company officials saw clashes with taxi cab workers as a way to win public sympathy, a trove of new documents shows
(WaPo) … The text exchange is among more than 124,000 company documents that a former top Uber lobbyist, Mark MacGann, provided to the Guardian. The publication shared the emails, instant messages, company presentations and other records with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a nonprofit newsroom in Washington that helped lead this project, and more than 40 other news organizations, including The Washington Post. The documents provide a vivid, insider account of how from 2013 to 2017, Uber used bare-knuckle tactics to expand rapidly around the globe as it became one of the most-used transportation companies on the planet. MacGann was Uber’s head of public policy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 2014 to 2016.
The company launched operations on four continents in rapid succession, often without seeking licenses to operate as a taxi and livery service, casting itself as merely a technology platform that connected willing passengers and drivers. To try to rewrite laws to recognize its position, Uber exported sophisticated American lobbying methods, the documents show, and it leveraged violence against its drivers in its efforts to win sympathy from regulators and the public.

20 June
UN sexual abuse claims ‘must be investigated’
By Sima Kotecha & Sarah Bell
(BBC News) Claims of sexual abuse and corruption at the United Nations should urgently be investigated by an independent panel, an ex-senior UN member has said.
Purna Sen’s comments follow a BBC investigation which revealed the sackings of a number of UN staff who tried to expose alleged wrongdoing.
The BBC documentary, The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN, details allegations of corruption, management turning a blind eye to wrongdoing and sexual abuse.

A very long report
6 June
How crypto giant Binance became a hub for hackers, fraudsters and drug traffickers
(A Reuters Special Report) With around 120 million users worldwide, Binance processes crypto trades worth hundreds of billions of dollars a month. The sector was hit by a sharp correction in May, its overall value slumping by a quarter to $1.3 trillion. [Binance CEO Changpeng] Zhao said he saw “new found resiliency” in the market.
The flow of illicit crypto through Binance, identified by Reuters, represents a small portion of the exchange’s overall trading volumes. Yet as policymakers and regulators, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, voice concern over the illegal use of cryptocurrencies, the trade demonstrates how criminals have turned to the technology to launder dirty money.

17 May
The Great Crypto Grift May Be Unwinding
As an inevitable crash occurs, many of the swindles and alleged swindles are coming to light.
(The New Yorker) Last week, federal prosecutors arrested a fifty-year-old Long Island man and accused him of defrauding hundreds of investors by offering them gains of five per cent per week—yes, per week—from a fictional crypto-trading platform. … the indictment came during what is increasingly looking like the unwinding of the great crypto “bezzle.” The term comes from John Kenneth Galbraith’s classic account of the 1929 stock-market crash, and it refers to the “inventory of undiscovered embezzlement” that builds up during speculative booms, when investors become ever more credulous and rising prices create the appearance that real wealth is being created. … It is only after the inevitable crash occurs that many of the swindles, and alleged swindles, come to light.
… The day before Alexandre’s arrest, Europol, the E.U.’s law-enforcement agency, placed Ruja Ignatova, the German inventor of the OneCoin cryptocurrency, on its most-wanted list, for “having induced investors all over the world to invest in this actually worthless ‘currency,’ ” which has produced a total loss that “probably amounts to several billion” dollars. Earlier this year, the F.B.I. arrested a New York couple and accused them of helping launder billions of dollars in stolen bitcoin.

1 May
Jacob Zuma sought to hand state assets to allies, finds corruption report
Inquiry says South Africa’s ruling ANC ‘should be ashamed’ by alleged efforts to steal vast sums
Jacob Zuma has been accused of systematic and “unlawful” efforts to give business allies control of billions of dollars worth of state assets, by the judge charged with investigating wrongdoing during the former president’s years in power in South Africa.
Raymond Zondo, who was appointed in 2018 to lead an inquiry into allegations of systematic corruption under Zuma’s rule, handed his latest report to the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Friday.
The 1,000-page document accuses businessmen brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta of being the beneficiaries of Zuma’s efforts to fire competent officials, intervene in management decisions, appoint compliant ministers and influence the award of contracts worth huge sums.

11 April
Russian bankers shuffled personal wealth offshore long before latest sanctions, Pandora Papers show
Amid rounds of Western sanctions since 2014, executives at five of Russia’s biggest financial institutions made moves to safeguard hundreds of millions in assets.
By Scilla Alecci
(ICIJ) These previously unreported moves included shifting assets just before or soon after Western nations sanctioned Russian elites and businesses. Some of these sanctions started in 2014 in response to Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. Others were added in response to Russia’s cyber activities, its meddling in the 2016 American presidential election and its continuing aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
Three of the bankers, the leaked records show, used offshore shell companies to invest in luxury properties in London and Cyprus. Four others collaborated on offshore companies holding at least $2 billion.
The documents also show that Herman Gref — the chief executive of Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank — used an offshore operative in Singapore in 2015 to restructure a $75 million family trust tied to a tangle of offshore companies.

March 2022
Corporate Fraud & Corruption 2022
(Financierworldwide) Cases of corporate fraud and corruption have risen in recent years. While malicious actors have become more technologically advanced and bolder in their actions, the events of the last two years have greatly increased their opportunities. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created new vulnerabilities for organisations of all sizes and industries. The rapid, chaotic scramble to open up remote, digital channels, coupled with reduced managerial oversight and governance, have exposed companies to fresh threats.

22 March
Removing Russia from the OECD Working Group on Bribery would be a mistake with unintended consequences
Nicola Bonucci and Regis Bismuth
(FCPA blog) On February 25, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) launched a procedure to suspend Russia from its rights of representation in the organization. Following that, on March 15, Russia informed the Secretary General of the CoE of its withdrawal from the organization and its intention to denounce the European Convention on Human Rights. The following day, the CoE’s Committee of Ministers decided that Russia ceased to be a member of the organization.
Indeed, following the exclusion from the COE, the European Court of Human Rights has decided to suspend the examination of all applications against the Russian Federation pending its consideration of the legal consequences of the Committee of Ministers’ decision for the work of the Court. This and Russia’s denunciation of the European Convention on Human Rights eventually means that persons under Russia’s jurisdiction will no longer be able to turn to the Court, the judicial arm of the Council of Europe, as a last resort after exhausting their country’s courts.
The same can be said about the Working Group on Bribery of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This Group was established to monitor the implementation and enforcement of the 1997 OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and its related Recommendations. According to Transparency International, the Working Group’s monitoring mechanism is considered the “gold standard”.

26 January
The world at a standstill
This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that corruption levels are at a worldwide standstill.
The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. The results are given on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
This year, the global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. Two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever.
As anti-corruption efforts stagnate worldwide, human rights and democracy are also under assault.
This is no coincidence. Our latest analysis shows that protecting human rights is crucial in the fight against corruption: countries with well-protected civil liberties generally score higher on the CPI, while countries who violate civil liberties tend to score lower.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has also been used in many countries as an excuse to curtail basic freedoms and side-step important checks and balances.
Terry Glavin: Canada’s rankings in the Corruption Perceptions Index have plummeted under Trudeau
There was no single scandal that caused Canada’s score to drop again this year, it’s just the accumulation of events, a kind of hangover effect from lingering embarrassments


9 December
Tackling corruption is our collective responsibility
Mouhamadou Diagne, World Bank Vice President of Integrity
(World Bank blogs) Corruption is a global problem and must be faced by equally global efforts and partnerships. If we are to have a collective impact, it is important that we also have common standards of practice for combatting corruption. It is timely then that next week (December 13-17, 2021), global anticorruption leaders will be meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for the Ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. This event will help to improve our collective capacity and cooperation, as well as provide an opportunity to engage on the important anticorruption topics of today. I look forward to attending with the WBG’s delegation and to discussing how we can enhance the networks for international cooperation in tackling corruption, particularly in today’s uncertain times.
Our collective efforts in recent decades have shined a bright spotlight on the corrosive impacts of corruption. For our efforts to continue to be successful, we must ensure that anyone and everyone fulfill their right—and responsibility—to speak up against corruption.

7 December
A tax man went after Guatemala’s elites. Then they hit back.
A Guatemalan official prosecuted powerful countrymen for millions in unpaid taxes. Soon, he was fired, arrested and charged with serious crimes. Reuters examines the pushback against efforts to end the corruption and impunity forcing many Central Americans to migrate.
(Reuters) Many here celebrated him for tackling elites long used to getting away with evading taxes. Guatemala is one of the world’s poorest and most unequal countries, with the lowest tax take in Latin America as a percentage of the national economy. But the burly former prosecutor with a buzz cut and a boxer’s nose also made mighty enemies.
Foppa, as the 38-year-old is widely known, this year found himself behind bars, in a case that even his adversaries acknowledge was largely fabricated. His arrest, and 22-day jail stay, was part of an ongoing backlash against some of the leaders of an anti-corruption movement that for a time pioneered efforts to end graft and impunity for powerful elites in Central America.
Foppa’s predicament is part of a broader struggle afoot in Central America over efforts to end the widespread misrule that has destabilized the region and stoked an exodus that’s contributing to the migration crisis at the U.S. border.

6 December
Companies Linked to Russian Ransomware Hide in Plain Sight
When cybersleuths traced the millions of dollars American companies, hospitals and city governments have paid to online extortionists in ransom money, they made a telling discovery: At least some of it passed through one of the most prestigious business addresses in Moscow.
(NYT)That this high-rise in Moscow’s financial district has emerged as an apparent hub of such money laundering has convinced many security experts that the Russian authorities tolerate ransomware operators. The targets are almost exclusively outside Russia, they point out, and in at least one case documented in a U.S. sanctions announcement, the suspect was assisting a Russian espionage agency.
Cybercrime is just one of many issues fueling tensions between Russia and the United States, along with the Russian military buildup near Ukraine and a recent migrant crisis on the Belarus-Polish border.
The Treasury Department has estimated that Americans have paid $1.6 billion in ransoms since 2011. One Russian ransomware strain, Ryuk, made an estimated $162 million last year encrypting the computer systems of American hospitals during the pandemic and demanding fees to release the data, according to Chainalysis, a company tracking cryptocurrency transactions.

28 November
Corruption’s War on the Law
From Nigeria to Italy, the forces of corruption are fighting back against those who would root them out, and from bombs and bullets to writs and motions, they will use any weapon they can to improve their chances. Not content to intimidate or even murder their opponents, now they are targeting the rule of law itself.
(Project Syndicate) When you try to fight corruption, corruption fights back. Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia could tell you that – if she had not been murdered by associates of those she was investigating. Rwandan anti-corruption lawyer Gustave Makonene, who was strangled and thrown from a car, also can’t talk. Nor can Brazilian activist Marcelo Miguel D’Elia, who was shot multiple times in a sugarcane field near his home.
Police officers, prosecutors, and public officials have also faced severe consequences for trying to take on corruption. One such official is Ibrahim Magu, who became acting chairman of Nigeria’s main anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in 2015. In 2017, gunmen attacked Magu’s home, killing one of the policemen guarding it. But bullets were not what ultimately neutralized Magu. Instead, his removal from office was engineered through “lawfare” – the use (or abuse) of the law for political ends. Last year – at a time when the EFCC was reportedly probing corruption allegations against Attorney-General Abubakar Malami – Magu was arrested and detained over allegations of corruption and insubordination, leveled by none other than Malami.

25 November
2016 Rio Olympics chief sentenced to 30 years in prison for buying votes to secure Games
By Mauricio Savarese
(AP/Global) Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee for more than two decades, was sentenced to 30 years and 11 months in jail for allegedly buying votes for Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics. Nuzman, who also headed the Rio 2016 organizing committee, was found guilty of corruption, criminal organization, money laundering and tax evasion. The 79-year-old executive won’t be jailed until all his appeals are heard.
Judge Marcelo Bretas also sentenced to jail former Rio Gov. Sergio Cabral, businessman Arthur Soares and Leonardo Gryner, who was the Rio 2016 committee director-general of operations. Investigators say all three and Nuzman coordinated to bribe the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Lamine Diack, and his son Papa Diack for votes.

15 November
The Bad Guys Are Winning
If the 20th century was the story of slow, uneven progress toward the victory of liberal democracy over other ideologies—communism, fascism, virulent nationalism—the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse.
By Anne Applebaum
That’s the subject of my Atlantic cover story this month: the new autocrats, the links they share, the impunity they enjoy, the world they have created. It’s a world in which ideology no longer matters, where Iranian theocrats work happily alongside Russian nationalists and Chinese Communists. Sometimes, the welfare of their fellow citizens doesn’t matter either. This generation of autocrats is focused on money—their own money—and on retaining power at all costs. Modern autocratic elites will do what it takes to stay in control, even if it leads to the destruction of their countries, as it has already in Venezuela and in Syria, and perhaps will soon in Belarus.
Nowadays, autocracies are run not by one bad guy but by networks composed of kleptocratic financial structures, security services, and professional propagandists. The members of these networks are connected not only within a given country but among many countries. The corrupt, state-controlled companies in one dictatorship do business with their counterparts in another. The police forces in one country can arm, equip, and train the police forces in another. The propagandists share resources—the troll farms that promote one dictator’s propaganda can also be used to promote the propaganda of another—and themes, pounding home the same messages about the weakness of democracy and the evil of America.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm