Greece, apparently. Closely followed by Italy.
Those are the conclusions by Transparency International in their latest corruption perceptions index,which looks at how the public sees state sector corruption. The index, which this year includes 176 countries, focuses on perceptions of graft rather than empirical data because of the secrecy surrounding such goings on. Read more
The New York Times story on assets held by relatives of China’s prime minister Wen Jiabao led to some interesting ponderings on Chinese kleptocracy by the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.
Osnos highlights a book by Andrew Wedeman published this year, Double Paradox, which attempts to understand how China has grown rapidly despite its widespread corruption.
“Although there is no good corruption,” Wedeman writes, “there is clearly bad and worse corruption: the corruption that has negative effects, and the corruption that can have potentially catastrophic effects.”
The US House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed new curbs on insider trading by lawmakers and other government officials despite complaints from Democrats and some Republicans that key anti-corruption provisions were dropped, reports Reuters. The legislation, aimed at ensuring lawmakers do not profit from non-public knowledge they gain through their positions, is the most extensive effort to clamp down on Congress’ personal business dealings in years. Lawmakers have seized upon it amid approval ratings that continue to plumb new lows. The House bill did not include a Senate-passed plan to impose new regulations on Washington insiders who collect “political intelligence” about pending legislation from lawmakers and their aides and sell it to Wall Street. It also lacked Senate proposals to equip prosecutors with new legal tools to pursue public corruption cases and ban all gifts to public officials valued over $1,000. The WSJ says the bill picked up unexpected support from some lawmakers who actively trade stocks. Read more
State-owned companies in emerging markets are facing greater scrutiny in the US as the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission step up enforcement of the foreign corrupt practices act, regulators and executives say. The FT reports that executives at state-owned companies are considered government officials under the US anti-bribery act, making improper payments or gifts to them illegal. This provision is having an especially broad impact on regions such as Asia, South America and Africa where there is deep state involvement in the economy.The number of FCPA cases brought in the last three years is three times greater than the total in the prior 20 years, officials say. Brian Whisler of the Washington office of the Baker & McKenzie law firm said there were 388 enforcement actions in the so-called Bric countries of Brazil, Russia, China and India. Read more
Corrupt Chinese officials smuggled an estimated Rmb800bn ($123.6bn) of ill-gotten gains out of the country over a 15-year period, according to a report released by China’s central bank, reports the FT. Around 17,000 Communist party cadres, police, judicial officers and state-owned enterprise executives fled the country between the mid-1990s and 2008, the 67-page report said. For higher-ranking officials who managed to abscond with large amounts of money, the ÛS was the favourite destination, while Canada, Australia and the Netherlands were also popular. Those who could not immediately secure visas for western countries often chose to stay in small countries in eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa while they waited for a chance to move to their final intended destination. Lower-ranking officials tended to escape to countries bordering China, the report said. The independently administered Chinese territory of Hong Kong was also a popular transit point. The report, stamped “internal materials, store carefully” and compiled in June 2008, was published on the website of the central bank’s anti-money laundering bureau this week. The bureau took the report down after it generated a public outcry. Read more
Indian anti-corruption officials have questioned a second tycoon in as many days, as a probe into a multibillion-dollar telecoms scandal reached into the highest echelons of the business elite, reports the FT. Prashant Ruia, the billionaire chief executive of energy and shipping conglomerate Essar Group, was questioned by investigators on Thursday amid a widening probe into the allocation of mobile network licences in 2008, a person close to the company said. On Thursday, shares in Reliance Communications continued their slide on reports that Anil Ambani, its billionaire chairman, had also been questioned. Read more
Shares in India’s Reliance Communications dropped another 3% to Rp96.75 in Mumbai trading on Thursday after billionaire chairman Anil Ambani was questioned by Indian federal investigators in a widening probe into the awarding of mobile-phone licenses in 2008, reports Bloomberg. The FT earlier reported that Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had agreed to face a parliamentary investigation into a spiralling corruption scandal that has paralysed the world’s largest democracy. Singh said on Wednesday he was prepared to answer questions from legislators about alleged irregularities in the award of 2G telecoms licences. An official audit, claiming the scandal cost the government $39bn, has rocked a fast-growing sector that attracted investments from some of India’s top business magnates. Read more
As the regime in Egypt seeks to enhance its credibility in the face of a popular uprising threatening its survival, it has turned against ministers and ruling party officials who were seen, until two weeks ago, as unshakeable pillars of the system, according to the FT. In what many see as a cynical move aimed at appeasing an angry public without making political concessions, the state prosecutor announced he is investigating for corruption four ministers and a former senior official of the ruling National Democratic party, most of whom have business backgrounds. NDTV has more on one of the men, Egyptian steel magnate Ahmed Ezz, or the man “Egypt loves to hate.” Read more
Egypt’s grabbed all the headlines in the ‘emerging market risk’ category so far this month, but there’s been a touch of controversy elsewhere in the EM category too.
India’s been rocked by a series of corporate and political scandals. Read more
The Department of Justice is scrutinising payments by leading pharmaceuticals companies for hospitality, consultants, licensing agreements and charitable donations in markets around the world as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe, the FT reports. GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly, among others, have disclosed being contacted by the DoJ and SEC in connection with the investigation, which comes after lawyer warnings that investigators would soon turn their focus on international corruption in the sector. Read more
The SEC is investigating BHP Billiton’s connection to possibly corrupt practices in several of the mining company’s former projects, BHP said on Wednesday in a terse statement buried in the addendum to a quarterly exploration report. News of the probe comes as global regulators take an increasingly hard line against corporate wrongdoing, the FT said. Read more
Food for thought for foreign investors in China on Thursday — sentences have been issued in the Rio Tinto case, including Chinese-Australian executive Stern Hu.
Breaking news via Reuters: Read more