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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

International IDEA
Do Accountability Mechanisms in Safety Nets Improve Access to Social Services? The case of Brazil’s Bolsa Família

"This paper was part of International IDEA’s work on “Democracy and Development” in 2011. It was selected as a contribution to stimulate debate on and increase knowledge about the impact of democratic accountability on services. A summary of the papers selected and an analysis on some general trends are provided in “Democratic Accountability in Service Delivery: A Synthesis of Case Studies”

The study analyses a semi-governmental mechanism for accountability called social control councils. Through this mechanism beneficiaries are supposed to provide feedback on health and education services. However as beneficiaries have been heavily underrepresented in these councils and membership tends to be skewed towards the local government, they have not been able to function as intended." READ MORE

Mashable
How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter

“Social media has been often touted for the role it played in the popular uprisings that have spread across the Arab world since December 2010. Despite the buzz, you may be surprised that only 0.26% of the Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the Syrian population are active on Twitter.

Of all the countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter is most popular in Kuwait, where 8.6% of the population is active users, defined as those who tweet at least once per month. Facebook’s more popular throughout the region. In its most popular country, the U.A.E., some 36.18% of the population is on Facebook.” READ MORE

No Willful Blindness to Corruption

Emile van der Does de Willebois's picture

Last week, British NGO Global Witness published Grave Secrecy, a report on how U.K. registered companies were allegedly used to launder the profits of corruption. Hundreds of millions of dollars passed through the corporate accounts of dozens of shell companies that held bank accounts at Asia Universal Bank (AUB), the largest bank in Kyrgyzstan. Although the report is based on one concrete case of alleged corruption and money laundering in that country, its relevance goes beyond that single example.There is no excuse for being willfully blind to corruption Photo Credit: joannelummey, Flickr Creative Commons

It is just one illustration of how money launderers and those involved in large-scale corruption use companies to hold criminal assets whilst ensuring that information on the control of those companies is virtually inaccessible. The essence of those schemes is to parcel out different bits of information on the company to different jurisdictions from which such information can only be obtained with difficulty (so-called secrecy jurisdictions). Indeed, how does one find relevant information on a U.K. company owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands with a company secretary in the Marshall Islands and a director in Panama? Criminal creativity knows no bounds.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

All Africa
Rwanda: Civil Society Organizations Which Promote Good Governance Rewarded

"The Rwanda Governance Board (GBV) on Monday has rewarded local civil society organizations which promote good governance.

The first phase, which concerned projects dating from July 2011 until today saw 14 projects rewarded, the top three being respectively Transparency International Rwanda (TI-Rw), COPORWA (Rwanda Potters cooperative) and Isango Star Radio.

The three best performers were selected based on indicators of promoting good governance, the ability of the project to attract partners and the direct impact of projects on citizens' lives, while others were evaluated over one indicator of good governance." READ MORE

Foreign Policy
Postcards from Hell, 2012

"What does living in a failed state look like? A tour through the world’s 60 most fragile countries.

The "failed state" label may conjure up undifferentiated images of poverty and squalor, but a range of troubles plague the 60 countries atop this year’s Failed States Index -- an annual collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Fund For Peace that assesses 177 countries. (Scores are assigned out of a possible 120 points, with higher numbers indicating poorer performance.) Yes, inadequate health care, paltry infrastructure, and basic hunger are the most fundamental culprits, but sometimes it is a ruthless dictator, ethnic tension, or political corruption that is most to blame. In photos and words, here is a glimpse of what life is like in each of the world's most failed states -- and just how it came to be that way." READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Tech Crunch
How The Future of Mobile Lies in the Developing World

“In less than three decades, the mobile phone has gone from being a status symbol to being a ubiquitous technology that facilitates almost every interaction in our daily lives. One month after the world’s population topped 7 billion in October 2011, the GSM Association announced that mobile SIM cards had reached 6 billion. A 2009 study in India illustrated that every 10 percent increase in mobile penetration leads to a 1.2 percent increase in GDP.

Yet patterns of mobile phone use in developing countries are vastly different from what you see on the streets of New York, San Francisco, and Berlin. This is a market underserved by technologists and startups. This is where the majority of future growth lies, and Silicon Valley has yet to realize the huge economic opportunities for network operators, handset developers, and mobile startups. Where are these opportunities?”  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Freedom House

Nations in Transit 2012

"Nations in Transit is Freedom House’s comprehensive, comparative study of democratic development in 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia.

Findings in Nations in Transit 2012 suggest that the countries that have achieved the greatest democratic success since the Cold War’s end are now displaying serious vulnerabilities in their young democratic systems. Over the past five years, stagnation and backsliding is evident in key governance indicators across the new EU member states and countries of the Balkans. Hungary, a powerful example of this trend, continued on a negative trajectory that was propelled by the current government’s drive to concentrate power. Ukraine’s scores similarly continued to worsen, with declines in five of the seven Nations in Transit categories, as authorities undertook a broad assault on institutional accountability and transparency. Difficult economic conditions and harsh austerity measures posed challenges to democratic development in the region. In the Balkans, critical reforms stalled in nearly all countries in 2011." READ MORE

The Fragile State of Media Freedom in Latin America

"The current state of media freedom in Latin America was driven home in early May, when three journalists were murdered in Mexico within a week of World Press Freedom Day. This dramatic example underscores a larger trend identified by Freedom House in the recently released Freedom of the Press 2012 report, which noted that a range of negative developments over the past decade have left media freedom on the defensive in much of Central and South America." READ MORE

An International Alliance against Corruption: Mindful of its Actions but Determined to Act

Dina Elnaggar's picture

When they first met in 2010, they hardly knew each other.  This week, members of the World Bank’s International Corruption Hunters Alliance convened their second meeting and for many of them, the fight against corruption is no longer solo. 
 
Once again, the World Bank welcomes more than 200 corruption fighters driving an agenda that is focused on international cooperation, technological tools and new approaches that can be incorporated in their anti-corruption mission.  Since their meeting in 2010, a lot has happened.  Corruption did not end but many of their collective actions had a profound impact in spreading a higher standard of accountability in public procurement and creating a broader range of enforcement powers.  Cooperation between the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency and a number of national prosecution and investigative bodies has resulted in action against corrupt companies and officials.  Examples are many.  The point is, working as an Alliance is about sharing information and conducting parallel investigations, that is turning transnational crimes from a challenge to a success story.

Caught bribing foreign officials: Have you ever wondered where the money companies pay in sanctions is ending up?

A decade ago, prosecutions of companies for paying bribes abroad were rare.  Today, you can open the business section of almost any major newspaper and find a story about a company under investigation for bribery of foreign officials.
The good news is that these prosecutions are truly on the rise globally.  While the United States has continued to lead the field, the authorities in many countries have now succeeded in holding companies liable for foreign bribery or closely-related offenses.  To name a few, these include the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.  Even some international institutions, such as the World Bank, are also moving towards such negotiated resolutions – but those private administrative actions are not the topic of this blog.

The bribes being paid to foreign officials often amount to more than just small change. Credit: Incurable_Hippie, Flickr Creative Commons

Have we seen a lot of trials?   Not at all.  Around the world, the preferred method of resolving foreign bribery cases is not through trials in court, but rather through shorter court procedures, plea bargains and other forms of mutual resolution.   Even in civil law countries.


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