National holidays in every country often mean an exchange of good will, good wishes and gifts. Years ago when I worked in a jeweller’s shop in my home town, the shop owner would give a bottle of whisky to the local police officer – the ‘bobby on the beat’ – as a thank you for calling into the shop from time to time, and sending a message to potential thieves that the shop, its contents and staff were on the police radar. Up until I left, 20 years ago, this was still common practice and neither the bobby nor my boss saw it as bribery. In 2013’s bribery and corruption conscious world, police officers in the UK would probably not accept a ‘thank you’ gift from a shop keeper. I’ve known HM Treasury officials to turn down small gifts for speaking at conferences in case the intent behind the gifts were misconstrued. But in some parts of the world, corruption and bribery are still going strong.
Seasonal bribery – Mid-Autumn Mooncakes
This week’s Mid-Autumn festival in the Chinese calendar does not escape the notice of corruption watchers. Dubbed a ‘harvest of mooncakes and corruption’ by this article in The Diplomat offers a nice cultural explanation of why people give Mooncakes at this time of year and the Sydney Morning Herald examines how China’s crack-down on corruption is affecting sales of these seasonal pastries.
Match fixing in Singapore
Police in Singapore have arrested 14 people on suspicion of football match fixing. The gang were connected to match fixing in the Champions League and World Cup qualifying rounds, according to a report in The Straits TImes. The gang’s leaders influence allegedly stretched to most European football leagues; match fixing allegations have been the focus of investigations by Europol.
Last weekend, police in Australia arrested six people in connection with match fixing allegations including four players – who are all British citizens – a team coach and the alleged ring leader. Investigators have alleged that five matches played by the Southern Stars team between July and September were fixed. Read the this report in the Canberra Times for more details. This great report from the same source outlines how illegal sports gambling has developed with the globalisation of legitimate sports betting.
Hezbollah uses proceeds of crime to fund acts
We used to say that terrorist financing is the process of using clean money to fund dirty and deadly practices. But according to this report in the Central Asia Online, the Lebanese terrorist organisation is using the laundered proceeds of drug trafficking and smuggling to fund the organisation, with many donations coming from organised crime groups in the tri-border area of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Cuidad del Este, the Paraguayan City on the edge of the Iguazu Falls has long been on the US Drug Enforcement Authority and US Treasury’s radar as a haven for smuggling.
Life for Bo Xilai
Bo Xilai, the former governor of Chungquing, has received a life sentence for his part in a large scale corruption scandal which came to light after the murder of a British man in November 2011. In a parting shot, Bo Xilai called the verdict unjust in court before he was led away in handcuffs by guards. Bo was sentenced for accepting bribes worth 20.4 million yuan (HK$25.7 million), 15 years for embezzling 5 million yuan and seven years for abuse of power by demoting his former police chief, Wang Lijun, reported the SCMP. The sentences will run concurrently.