Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Just not cricket anymore!

May 22, 2014

It is quite possible that there are no longer any matches – especially in the Indian Premier League – which have not been fixed in some way. But the malaise is present even in English County Cricket.

1. ECB charge Lou Vincent and Naved Arif with match-fixing county cricket game

The England & Wales Cricket Board are anticipated to make history later these days by announcing they have charged Lou Vincent and his former Sussex group-mate Naved Arif with fixing the outcome of a county cricket match.

Telegraph Sport can reveal that former New Zealand batsman Vincent, who has currently confessed to fixing, and Arif, a Pakistani living in this nation, are becoming charged with additional than 15 counts of match-fixing.

If the players are found guilty they face lifetime bans from the sport, and the 40-more than match amongst Sussex and Kent played at Hove in August 2011 will be the initial verified case of the result of a county match becoming fixed.

Vincent, who has given proof to the International Cricket Council of fixing in five countries, faces a lot more than 10 charges of fixing some relate to the Sussex/Kent match and other individuals relate to an additional 1-day game he played for Sussex in 2011.

Arif faces at least 5 counts relating to the Sussex game versus Kent alone.

2. Chris Cairns named by NZ Test player’s ex-wife in match-fixing testimony

Former New Zealand Test player Chris Cairns continues to protest his innocence amid more evidence against him, this time from Lou Vincent’s ex-wife, who alleges he was a cricket match-fixing ringleader.

Cairns’ name was publicly linked with sworn evidence to International Cricket Council investigators for the first time on Tuesday, as the former New Zealand all-rounder issued a second statement in a 12-hour period. ‘‘I totally reject the allegations against me, and I will prove this.’’

The latest leaked evidence is a sworn 10-page document from Elly Riley, Vincent’s ex-wife, that she provided to anti-corruption investigators last October. It follows leaks in the past week of former Test opener Vincent’s explosive 42-page testimony, and New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum’s signed three-page statement, both of which are understood to name Cairns as a fixing ringleader.

Riley’s evidence was that the fixing began at the Indian Cricket League in 2008, and that Vincent told her: ‘‘Chris was going to pay him $US$50,000 a game for the fixing.’’

The amount of money sloshing around in Indian Premier League and in the betting surrounding the matches makes spot fixing both tempting and extremely lucrative

3. IPL spot-fixing allegations

The IPL is no stranger to controversy, but on May 16 it met arguably its biggest crisis when Delhi Police arrested three Rajasthan Royals players – Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan – soon after their match in Mumbai for spot-fixing. Eleven bookies were also arrested at that time, including one – Amit Singh – who was a former Royals player. Royals later suspended their players and the BCCI set up an inquiry, headed by its ACSU chief Ravi Sawani, into the allegations. The board also announced enhanced anti-corruption measures, including two more security personnel with each team. The arrests kicked off a nation-wide search and arrest of bookmakers – betting is illegal in India. One of those picked up in Mumbai was a small-time actor, Virender “Vindoo” Dara Singh, arrested on charges of links with bookmakers. His testimony led the police to arrest, on May 24, Meiyappan Gurunath, a top official of Chennai Super Kings and son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan. Delhi Police eventually chargesheeted the players, among 39 persons, under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, while the BCCI handed out life bans to Sreesanth and Chavan after Sawani’s probe found them guilty of fixing.

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Putin’s Sochi is “ready” but journalists are missing their basic luxuries!

February 5, 2014

Putin’s winter games open in Sochi on Friday and journalists have started arriving. But Putin is probably a little indignant that they are nowhere near as hardy as he is and expect all manner of luxuries ranging from

View image on Twitter

Twitter image Harry Reekie @CNN

  • one room per person (Putinities can manage with 11/room)
  • curtains
  • toilet paper
  • heating
  • internet
  • elevators that work
  • running water
  • hotel lobbies
  • reception desk
  • water safe to wash in
  • water safe to drink
  • flooring
View image on Twitter

Twitter image @wyshynski

ReutersRussian officials have declared Sochi ready for the Games, on which President Vladimir Putin has staked his and his country’s reputation. But days before they open on Friday, the organizers acknowledge that not all the new hotels are ready, despite the Games’ $50-billion price tag. ……. 

macho putin

Although no athletes are affected, officials from two countries said they were turned away when they arrived at night in Krasnaya Polyana because their hotels were not ready. They too have been temporarily moved elsewhere.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged the Russian organizers to sort out the problems quickly and says only about three percent of the newly built accommodation – around 700 rooms – are not ready for guests.

Macho Putin is not impressed by these namby-pamby types. 

Related posts:

Sochi Winter Olympics: Champions of Corruption

Economic model predicts Olympic medals at 2014 Sochi winter games

EU Corruption Report: Brussels bureaucrats kill chapter on corruption in EU Institutions

February 3, 2014

The EU corruption report is out today and is getting a lot of media attention. It has no big surprises and estimates the cost of corruption directly in the member states to be about 120 billion € which is about the same size as the EU budget and is about 1% of the total EU GDP at about 12 trillion €.

But – in a major victory for the faceless bureaucrats of Brussels – the report does not consider corruption within EU Institutions as it was supposed to. My perception is that the corruption level within the EU Institutions is as bad as in the worst member state. In Brussels where the bureaucrats are drawn from member countries, the practices they employ are imported from what they are used to in their home countries. And Brussels – in my little experience and in my opinion – is perfectly suited to levelling-down and to the spreading of the worst practices available.

EU Observer: The European Commission has decided not to include a chapter on EU institutions in a report on corruption in member states …. The original plan, announced in 2011, was to assess corruption across the member states and within the EU institutions. EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is set to release the first bi-annual report on Monday (3 February), around six months later than originally planned.

Malmstrom’s spokesperson Michael Cercone told this website in an email that the commission had considered assessing the anti-corruption efforts of the EU’s own institutions but “realised that this is something we will have to come back to in a future EU anti-corruption report – to be sure that the evaluation would be satisfactory and objective.”

And when this part of the report does come out – if it is ever completed – it will ensure that the analysis is set so far in the past that no current bureaucrats/politicians will be implicated.

But the size of the corruption suggests that while petty corruption is much lower than in some developing countries, the extent of large sophisticated contract scams is not insignificant. It takes a few thousands of petty corruption events to come up to the level of a single large contract scam. The Report points out that:

The individual country analyses revealed a wide variety of corruption-related problems, as well as of corruption control mechanisms, some of which have proved effective and others have failed to produce results. Nevertheless, some common features can be noted either across the EU or within clusters of Member States. The country analyses show that public procurement is particularly prone to corruption in the Member States, …..

Of course the EU countries exhibit a wide variety of behaviour and some member states view the payment of “fees” or the exchange of “favours” to get an advantage as a normal activity. As the report states “However, the long-standing absence of comprehensive anti-corruption strategies in some Member States which are facing systemic corruption problems turned out to be an issue of concern, ..”.  There is a political dimension as well Provoked by the crisis, social protests have targeted not only economic and social policies, but also the integrity and accountability of political elites. High-profile scandals associated with corruption, misuse of public funds or unethical behaviour by politicians have contributed to public discontent and mistrust of the political system. Integrity in politics is a serious issue for many Member States….”.

Oh well! Business will continue as usual in Brussels.

Sochi Winter Olympics: Champions of Corruption

January 28, 2014

A new site defines the Champions of Corruption at the Sochi Winter Games.

The site asserts:

sochi champions of corruption

Athletes are not the only people who compete in Sochi. Officials and businessmen also took part in the Games and turned them into a source of income. The Anti-Corruption Foundation honored the most distinguished money siphoners in five different sports

Classic Embezzlement, Arkady Rotenberg  

Verbal Freestyle, Vladimir Putin 

Ecological Multi-Sport, Vladimir Yakunin 

Pair Contract, Alexander Tkachyov and Roman Batalov 

Figure Lending, Vladimir Potanin

The site is ostensibly anti-corruption but the objectives are clearly political:

The AustralianAlexei Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who ran for mayor of Moscow last September, has used the site to combine data gathered during his own investigations with media accounts and other activists’ reports. According to Mr Navalny’s Encyclopaedia of Spending, the athletes are not the only people who compete: “Officials and businessmen also took part in the Games and turned them into a source of income.”

His site honours five “champions of corruption”, including President Vladimir Putin, who is accused of lying about the cost of the project when he claimed it was $US6.5 billion. Mr Putin has rejected the claims.

US “sells” Norway Ambassadorship to an uninformed hotelier

January 27, 2014

The uglier side of “democracy”.

That generous donors to the US political parties are rewarded with Ambassadorships is common knowledge. The smaller and “less important” countries are usually the destination for these bought positions unless a very large donation is made. $6.2 million can buy an Ambassadorship to France or Monaco.

And now Norway knows precisely how unimportant it is considered by Obama’s establishment as George Tsunis, a rich Greek-American hotelier and a very generous donor to the Democratic Party made an idiot of himself at the Senate confirmation hearings. After all he can’t do much harm sitting in Oslo!!!

He thought Norway was a Republic and didn’t know which parties were in the coalition ruling Norway. It would have been pointless asking him the name of the King. An ignorant person is a correct description – at least about Norway. He does apparently know something about running a hotel. It does not say much for his knowledge (and perhaps also his intelligence) but it does not say much either for the briefings he must have received from the State Department. A member of the Greek Orthodox church now going to be an expert in a Lutheran country!!

Or did the career diplomats deliberately make sure he was not briefed properly because they wanted to showcase his ignorance? 

George Tsunis at US Senate in Jnuary 2014 - source screen grab - The Local

George Tsunis at US Senate in Jnuary 2014 – source screen grab – The Local

Future US envoy displays total ignorance of Norway

The US’s next ambassador to Norway has committed a jaw-dropping diplomatic blunder before he even begins, describing politicians from the Progress Party, which has seven ministers, as “fringe elements” that “spew their hatred” in a US Senate hearing.

Asked by Senator John McCain what he thought it was about the “anti-immigration” Progress Party that appealed to Norwegian voters, Greek American businessman George Tsunis seemed unaware of the party’s role in the ruling coalition. 
“You get some fringe elements that have a microphone and spew their hatred,” he said in the pre-appointment hearing. “And I will tell you Norway has been very quick to denounce them.” 
McCain interrupted him, pointing out that as part of the coalition, the party was hardly being denounced. 
“I stand corrected,”  Tsunis said after a pause.  “I would like to leave my answer at… it’s a very,very open society and the overwhelming amount of Norwegians and the overwhelming amount of people in parliament don’t feel the same way.”
The blunder came after a faltering, incoherent performance from Tsunis, in which he made a reference to Norway’s “president”, apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. 
Tsunis founded the hotel management company Chartwell Hotels, which operates properties for InterContinental Hotels, and other major hotel groups. He is one of the leading figures in the Greek-American establishment, and is heavily involved in the Greek Orthodox Church. 
He donated $267,244 to the Democratic party in the 2012 election cycle, and $278,531 in 2010, making him one of the party’s top individual donors. 
His ineptitude has also been noticed in the US (but he was confirmed anyway).

billmoyers.com:

The State Department is filled with veteran foreign service officers with years of experience in international relations. Most of them are products of elite universities, where they studied subjects like conflict resolution or international trade theory. Many are multilingual, and all have deep expertise on the political scenes of various countries.

Yet they routinely watch as deep-pocketed political donors with little or no foreign service experience are appointed to serve as America’s ambassadors overseas. The practice is so common that a pair of international relations scholars at the University of Pennsylvania were able to put prices on various plumb ambassadorships. According to The New York Times, “the study found that political ambassadors who had made campaign donations of $550,000, or bundled contributions of $750,000, had a 90 percent chance of being posted to a country in Western Europe.” The best postings — in France or Monaco — could cost up to $6.2 million in direct contributions. ….

Other Norwegian media described Tsunis as having “trampled through the salad bowl,” according to Olivier Knox at Yahoo NewsKnox added that Tsunis wasn’t the first to fumble the hearing:

McCain, already flummoxed by the apparent inability of Obama’s choice to be ambassador to Hungary to list strategic US interests there, closed his questioning with a bit of sarcasm: “I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees.”

The Devyani Khobragade case: Ambitious prosecutor seeks publicity while India objects to an attack on privilege

December 19, 2013

The Devyani Khobragade case is causing waves in India -US diplomatic relations but I have difficulty to generate much sympathy for any of the parties involved.

The diplomat: Devyani Khobragade is a consular official and not a full-diplomat and she was trying to get her maid very cheaply. She was certainly subject to treatment which was  humiliating and undignified but the affront is primarily to her pride and the culture of privilege which prevails in India (and not only India of course).

The maid: Sangeeta Richard and her husband (and their advisors) are opportunists who are trying to circumvent visa restrictions and are trying to achieve a more permanent status to stay in the US. (There is little chance that she will retain her job with Khobragade). But the maid’s behaviour is rather suspect. “Why did the US grant visas to her husband and children and fly them out to the US two days before Devyani Khobragade was arrested in full public glare and strip searched? And Sangeeta’s father-in-law is apparently on the staff of the US embassy in New Delhi. A little blackmail and massive publicity  is seen as being a “good” thing in achieving their objective. In fact the fuss being made by the Indian establishment suggests that their lawyer could even make a claim for political asylum!

The prosecutor: US attorney Preet Bharara has been remarkably voluble in justifying his actions. That itself illustrates his clear political ambitions. No US prosecutor acts without an eye to the resultant publicity and his career development and – in many cases – his political ambitions. It is inconceivable that the particular prosecutor in this case (also of Indian origin) did not calculate the boost he would get.

The Indian political establishment: The entire Indian establishment (politicians and press) have had their nationalistic hackles aroused. Their culture of privilege is being attacked. The diplomat was subjected to a “cavity search”. Good grief! This is rape! Clearly a case of official rape by rampant US officialdom on a defenceless Indian woman!! To be seen to be fighting for a “raped woman” is very politically correct these days in India. Fighting for an underpaid maid – who is not from the privileged classes – does not win the same number of brownie points. (Note that a crime against a privileged person is always much much worse than the same crime against one of the lower classes).

The US political establishment: The US is probably a little bemused at how this has got out of hand. Kerry has expressed his regret  and “empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India” but has not apologised. He cannot chastise an over-ambitious prosecutor who has used due process to further his political ambitions. Bharara could have behaved in a civilised manner but chose not to. He himself – of course – belongs to the privileged class of the US.

It has all the elements of a conspiracy and en entrapment (Sangeeta Richards, her father-in-law, unnamed US officials at the US Embassy in Delhi and the New York prosecutor Preet Bharara). For a lawyer specialising in corruption, Bharara’s behaviour is close to being morally corrupt in itself. No doubt Devyani Khobragade tried to get her maid cheap but some “entrapment” and publicity-seeking is apparent.

Interesting behaviour but all rather inconsequential.

 

Corruption is in the genes of the EU

October 20, 2013

In the developing world venality is often a matter of survival. In Europe venal behaviour is a matter of choice. The EU bureaucracy in Brussels has corruption in its genes and tax-payer’s money running through its veins. It is remarkable that so many ostensibly democratic countries (at least in name) have so easily surrendered their powers to a bloated and corrupt group in Brussels.

It is not Best in Class that applies. The Least Common Factor applies in Europe. Brussels is as corrupt and as wasteful and as inefficient as the worst country in Europe. In this case the corruption and the condoning of corruption in Brussels is as bad as in Greece. And corruption in Greece was not a small contributor to their financial problems.

Der Spiegel writes:

Anti-corruption officials in Brussels have failed to investigate reports of squandered EU funds at a training institute in Greece, a German paper reported Friday. Well-connected teachers were allegedly paid up to €610 per hour for up to 225 work hours per month.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has reportedly ignored repeated tip-offs about squandered European Union funds in Greece, according to an article in the Friday edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The German daily reports that a Greek civil servant uncovered multiple cases of nepotism and vastly inflated salaries while inspecting the finances of a vocational training institute. Officials in Brussels have apparently not acted on any of the whistleblower’s suspicions, which he communicated in several letters, the paper added.

According to the newspaper report, Giorgos Boutos, a government finance official in Athens, began auditing the books of the Organization for Vocation Education and Training (OEEK) in 2006. The institute receives and distributes EU funds earmarked for vocational training in Greece. Boutros repeatedly stumbled upon irregularities and documented the cases in numerous letters to OLAF.

…. The case involves at least €6 million ($8.2 million). It’s not an excessive sum of money, but it is well documented. Boutos was able to substantiate the irregularities in his letters to the EU with contracts, hotel bills and bank statements. He reportedly found that 75 percent of the misappropriated money had come from the EU.

The details provided by the Süddeutsche Zeitung are sure to raise eyebrows. Some of the instructors are said to have been paid for up to 225 hours per month, even during periods when they were abroad. Hourly wages for teachers were reportedly as high as €610. The alleged corruption was compounded by apparent instances of nepotism: The son of a cabinet member taught a course on silver-plating watches, the wife of a Socialist politician led classes on both dentistry and geography, and relatives of the institute’s leader held jobs there.

….. It wasn’t until seven months — and several more inquiries — later that Boutos received fresh news about the case. Still, that letter merely stated that OLAF was in the process of “a comprehensive reorganization,” and asked him to be patient. 

Meanwhile, Boutos told the newspaper, many similar cases of misspent EU funds now fall under the statute of limitations because the EU took too long to address them. Exactly €516,000 of misappropriated EU funds have been repaid. But Boutros stressed that the EU could demand that all such funds be paid back — that is, if it really wanted to.

Boutos also questioned whether investigations had been delayed because some suspected fraud cases involved relatives of government and party officials — or whether Brussels even cared at all about such instances.

Parliamentary pigs and taxpayer troughs

June 11, 2013

Apparently pigs and humans share many genetic characteristics:

Researchers, who undertook the largest ever study of the pig genome, found that swine are adaptable, easy to seduce with food and susceptible to domestication – much like humans. 

Insights into the genetic code of pigs reveal the swine and its cousin the wild boar have much in common with humans.

from bellscorners.wordpress.com

This affinity between human and pig behaviour is demonstrated daily – and especially – by parliamentarians the world over. They don’t just feed – they gorge themselves. Perhaps it is the availability of the trough of taxpayers money which triggers our parliamentarians to revert to ancient type. Following the recent revelations about UK parliamentarians and their greed (Trougher Yeo), or in the US for example, comes this story from Australia:

The New South Wales Finance Minister Greg Pearce is facing further accusations about his parliamentary travel, with a Sydney newspaper reporting that he spent thousands of dollars on flights that coincided with sports events.

Last week, Premier Barry O’Farrell initiated an inquiry into claims the minister may have breached travel guidelines by taking a trip to Canberra that was initially booked through his office but was subsequently repaid by the minister.

The move came just days after he was accused of being drunk in parliament, prompting a public warning from the Premier.

Now the Daily Telegraph newspaper is reporting Mr Pearce has made at least $9,000 worth of trips to major sporting events around the country.

It says the events include the Melbourne Cup, AFL Grand Final and Australian Open, although Mr Pearce has denied the newspaper’s suggestions that he travelled to a V8 event on the Gold Coast last year.

I suppose they could all employ the defence that it is all in their genes and it is the fault of the taxpayers in providing them with the temptations which trigger their piggy instincts.

Lobbying and ethics

June 3, 2013

The UK is once again facing the unedifying view of Parliamentarians who offer their services for payment. It causes no shock any more. It has almost become the behaviour to be expected.

BBC:

Three peers have been accused of agreeing to carry out Parliamentary work for payment.

Undercover Sunday Times reporters filmed the men appearing to offer to help a fake solar energy company.

Ulster Unionist Lord Laird and Labour’s Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Cunningham deny wrongdoing.

The two Labour peers have been suspended from the party and Lord Laird has resigned the party whip pending an investigation.

In a separate investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme in conjunction with the Daily Telegraph, Lord Laird was also secretly filmed discussing a retainer to ask parliamentary questions.

But it is not lobbying or the Rules of Parliament which are the fundamental problem. It is the ethics of Parliamentarians which is.

Not much has changed since I wrote this back in 2010.

…….  While the range of all possible human behaviour is generated by the individual’s values, it is subject to:

  • Law, which defines what a person may not do.
  • Morals, which define what a person ought not to do whether or not it is lawful.
  • Ethics, which describe what is correct and desirable for a person to do; which will always be moral and will usually be lawful.

There are probably many politicians who do have admirable intentions and who do not get involved with the murkier side of political funding. But politicians whether in the US or Europe or in Asia do sell “access” into the world of regulations and approvals. MP’s and even Ministers in the UK are not shy in offering their paid services from time to time. Ministers in India have their performance ranked according to how much they raised for the party coffers. Japanese politicians approve roads and highways in their constituencies that nobody needs, except the civil contractors, their employees and their shareholders. Parliamentarians across the world offer their services to raise questions in parliament or in parliamentary committees. The skimming off of funds, misuse of subsidies and regulatory scams such as the Carbon Trading scam are legendary in the European Union. All over the world many politicians propose the “pork belly” projects in their own constituencies, sometimes with little competition, to add to appropriations legislation. Just in the US alone there has been between 13 and 27 Billion US$ of appropriations for “pork” projects for each year between 2005 and 2009. Assuming that these projects just followed US or OECD guidelines on corruption, but made use of all the loopholes available, the contract awards could have legitimised between 400 M US$ and 800 M US $ every year which could have – and probably has – ended up in the funds of political parties and their lobbyists. A large number of the people involved in these channels have rather “sticky fingers” which allows the amassing of individual wealth as it flows. …….

….. In my experience, which is limited to contracting in the power generation industry, the reverse sequence, where corporations initiate the whole process while seeking competitive advantage and offer  pay-offs to politicians or contributions to their party funds, is not unknown but probably not as prevalent. …….

……. There is a pervasive atmosphere within the business world today taking the view that ethics is not a matter for corporations. Milton Friedman, Peter Drucker and others must bear their share of the responsibility for having propagated the view that corporations should only be concerned with the profit they deliver to shareholders. They have – maybe inadvertently – supported the view that humans in a corporate setting can and should abdicate their own ethical codes. The Wall Street Journal has declared from on high that ethics cannot be learned and ethics courses are irrelevant to business. Utter rubbish of course, but even the “newspapers of record” such as the New York Times or The Times or Der Spiegel or the Wall Street Journal have lost their famed objectivity and have become political advocacy channels. It is such high-profile and basically amoral views which have been greatly responsible for providing a cloak of respectability for the attitude that:

         i.            Corporations have no business to concern themselves with ethics, and

       ii.            Even if ethics is important then compliance with law is a sufficient substitute for having a code of ethics, and

    iii.            If an action is seen to be compliant with laws then this is sufficient.

………

The fundamental reason for behaviour to be ethical is not because of some collateral benefit it may bring but simply because it is the right and proper thing to do. The right and correct thing to do is sufficient in itself, and does not need excuses or justification. In spite of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion, ethics can be taught and can be developed.

from Essence of a Manager 

Retired High Court judge accuses Danish government of corruption over wind turbines

November 21, 2012

The Danish love of wind turbines  – sometimes bordering on the irrational – is well known. That is also why they have the highest prices for electricity in Europe. That Denmark is also considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world is taken for granted. But apparently things are not always what they seem. The Copenhagen Post carries a remarkable article by Peter Rørdam, a retired High Court judge which offers a peek behind the scenes at chicanery in the wind industry/government nexus. The article is reproduced below:

The Copenhagen Post

The myth of Denmark as a corruption-free country

It’s a widely held conception that Denmark is one of the world’s least corrupt countries. The message is always warmly received, but this isn’t the same as saying that Denmark is free of corruption.

(more…)


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