Corruption Facts 2013

Corruption Facts

• According to the World Health Organization, fraud and abuse in health care has been estimated to cost individual Governments between US$12 billion and US$23 billion every year.

• In 2012, 50 per cent of Afghan citizens paid a bribe while requesting a public service and the total cost of bribes paid to public officials amounted to US$3.9 billion (Corruption in Afghanistan: Recent Patterns and Trends, UNODC, 2013).

• The percentage of businesses in the Western Balkans experiencing bribery over a 12-month period: in Serbia: 17 per cent, in Albania: 15.7 per cent; while bribes paid by businesses in Croatia: 8.8 bribes per year and in Kosovo*: 7.7 bribes per year. The most expensive bribes are paid in Kosovo (average 1,787 EUR per bribe) and Serbia (average 935 EUR per bribe). (Business, Corruption and Crime in the western Balkans: The impact of bribery and other crime on private enterprise, UNODC, 2013)

• Migrants pay bribes at border crossings, transport corridors, and where police are encountered. Bribes range from between US$6.50 and US$260.23. Police may collect from employers based on a monthly, per head basis. (Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment, UNODC, 2013).

• Small and medium enterprises (SME’s) pay a much higher percentage of their annual revenues in bribes to public officials than large companies. (Corruption prevention to foster small and medium-sized enterprise development, UNODC/UNIDO, 2012).

Iran to Develop New Anti-Corruption Strategy

The Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 3 TV, carried a 67-minute edition of its live weekly “Diruz, Emruz, Farda” (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow) discussion program, which focuses on the issue of economic crimes in Iran. Mohammad-Hoseyn Ranjbaran hosts this week’s program, which features in-studio interviews with Judge Naser Seraj, head of the State Inspectorate Organization, and MP Mohammad`ali Purmokhtar, head of the Majles Article 90 Committee.
Officials Involved in $3-Billion Embezzlement Case Imprisoned
Commenting on the corruption scandals involving the members of three branches of government and their associates, Seraj reports that with respect to the approximately $3-billion embezzlement case, a number of former deputy ministers and director generals of the state organizations have been imprisoned: “The Head of the IMIDRO [Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization], a number of deputy ministers, some director generals of the roads and transport organizations, and the executive director of the Railways Services and Technical Construction Engineering Company were sentenced to jail.”
Anti-Corruption Laws Adequate, Not Implemented ‘Properly and Efficiently’
MP Mohammad`ali Purmokhtar, head of the Majles Article 90 Committee
MP Mohammad`ali Purmokhtar, head of the Majles Article 90 Committee
Asked whether the reason behind the economic corruption is the lack of relevant laws and legislations, and that what measures should be taken by the lawmakers to prevent such cases from happening, Purmokhtar says: “There are adequate laws and legislations to combat corruption, however, it is the responsibility of executive officials to implement them properly and efficiently.” He continues: “In most cases, since one individual is responsible for making several decisions, he could become the source of corruption.” He says that other factors such as lack of background check investigations on individuals applying for bank loans could lead to embezzlement: “Sometimes a long history of personal relationship between the applicant and organization or bank could help him get exempted from providing the requirements necessary for loan approval processes.”
Purmokhtar says that the Majles passed the Law of Promotion of Healthy Administrative System in 2011 in line with the establishment’s campaign efforts against economic corruption. He adds that however the law “is not properly implemented.” He deems “lack of oversight and implementation of laws” reasons behind failures to combat corruption.
Asked whether the vacuum of legislations or as mentioned by Purmokhtar the failure to implement the existing laws could be the source of corruption in Iran, Seraj says: “We have adequate and comprehensive laws with respect to combating corruption, but we are falling short when it comes to the enforcement of the laws.”
About One-Forth of Corruption Activities Organized By Networks
In response to a question on who is behind the economic crimes and whether they are operating as networks involving officials and state organizations, Purmokhtar says: “Our information mostly points to the involvement of individuals, however in about 20-25 percent of cases, these activities are organized by networks, which have people working for them in various organizations and state bodies.”
Majles, Government To Draft Anti-Corruption Campaign Strategies
On the recent steps taken by President Ruhani’s government to combat economic corruption, Purmokhtar says: “Fortunately, the 11th government has shown its desire to take actions in this regard, and during the two joint meeting held between some members of the Majles and the government, we all agreed that this campaign should be pursued, and it was decided there that working groups comprising of members from both branches should study the issue and draft related strategies.”
“White-Collar” Criminals Behind “Major” Corruption Activities
Judge Naser Seraj, head of the State Inspectorate Organization
Judge Naser Seraj, head of the State Inspectorate Organization
Here, the host points to the 2001 Supreme Leader Khamene’i’s 8-article decree on launching a campaign against “economic crimes,” and asks Seraj to clarify why the course of confronting the economic corruption “as expressed by the supreme leader” is not “satisfying.”
Seraj replies by stressing on the issue of “white-collar crimes,” saying that the judicial authorities are striving to arrest the “white-collar criminals.” He says: “Behind every major corruption case there is a white-collar criminal,” and continues: “We should focus on arresting these individuals, either by using the judicial task enforcement or in cooperation with the Anti-Economic Corruption Headquarters. In any occasions, as the crime is committed the Judiciary will take action, but sometime because of the lack of cooperation by other bodies the entire process would be hindered.” He goes on to call for cooperation of other bodies such as the Ministry of Intelligence, the Law Enforcement Force, and the Majles in this regard. He adds: “Many individuals are afraid of these white-collar criminals. They [white-collar criminals] easily create problems for those reporting the criminal activities.” He says that these criminals have formed “networks of individuals” operating in various state organizations such as customs offices and banks.
Here, the host asks Purmokhtar whether the Majles in general and the Article 90 Committee in particular has taken any actions in dealing with the issue of white-collar crimes.
Purmokhtar says: “On the surface, many of these white-collar criminals are appeared to be upright. They may even be the ones that lead people’s prayers. So, simply put, the white collar criminals are of like this. They usually operate behind the scene and we can catch them only if they get involved in the crimes directly.” He continues: “Unfortunately, even though these individuals are known to us, we have yet to take serious action in dealing with them.”
Mehdi Hashemi’s Case Pending, Requires More Evidence
Here, the host asks Seraj about the case concerning “son of an official,” by which he means the case of Mehdi Hashemi, son of Head of Expediency Council Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. While not mentioning Mehdi Hashemi’s name, the host asks Seraj why the investigations surrounding this case, as he says, is taking so long.
Seraj says: “When a case is not complete, I usually return the case to the relevant authorities and ask for more evidence. That is what I did with respect to the embezzlement case as well. Regarding this particular case, I do not look at the suspect’s name. I look at the allegations contained in the bill of indictments.” Seraj adds that he has ordered more investigations regarding the case due to the lack of evidence for some counts in the indictment.

Yemeni Court Rescinds Decree Forming Anti-Corruption Authority

Judiciary Invalidates the Forming of SNACC

The Court of Appeals upheld the judgment of the Capital’s Administrative court which rescinded the President’s decree to form the Supreme National Authority for Corruption Combat (SNACC). .

The court ruled in favor of the invalidity of the procedures of the Shora Council for nominating the members of SNACC.

The Appeal Court rejected the plea filed by the Shora Council for the absence of its representatives in four consecutive sessions, besides the argument challenging the legality of the Shora Council’s measures which lacked standards of transparency.

Lawyer Abdul-Karim Salam said the judgment became effective depending on a legal base which provides that the cancellation of any administrative decision by a judicial ruling will invalidate the decision as well as its consequences, in an indication to the presidential decree issued by President Hadi last week, depending on the nomination list presented by the Shora Council, which was rescinded by the judiciary.

Salam emphasized that the judgment is a real test to the trend for building a modern civil state and also a real test for compliance of the state institutions with the law and the judiciary authority, pointing to President Hadi’s retraction from the Presidential decree over SNACC formation, which will support his trend in the enhancement of the judiciary prestige, and will be the first gesture of its kind in Yemen, where a president complies with a judicial ruling, which confirms that there is a proficient authority which has the final say.

“The retraction of President Hadi from his decision will be a compliance by the judiciary judgments and a subdue to influential forces which want to pass decisions which contradict the law, ” lawyer Salam said.

On the other hand, lawyer Khalid al-Anisi described the Administrative decision of rescinding the presidential decree for the formation of SNACC as legal and consistent with the spirit of the law.

Al-Anisi stressed that the formation of SNACC was illegal because it specified a certain procedure for the SNACC formation, however al-Anisi showed reservations that the court’s decision is not meant for implementation of the law but to hinder any steps of President Hadi to make any changes, citing what happened in Egypt where the judiciary is employed for blocking any political changes.

Yemen’s New Anti-Corruption Commission Sworn-In

Newly appointed members of the Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption, SNACC were sworn in before President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi as follows;

1-Afrah Saleh Mohamed Ba Dawilan

2-Ibthaj Abdullah al-Kamal

3-Ibrahim Ali Haithem

4-Hassen Shawkri Zaior

5-Hussein Sheikh Abdullah Ba Raja’a

6-Abdullah Mubarak al-Ghaithi

7-Ali Yahia Ahmed al-Sawnidar

8-Mamoon Ahmed Mohammed al-Shami

9-Mohamed Hamood al-Jaefi

10-Mohamed Mohamed Ismeal al-Ghashem

11-Nor Mohamed Othman Ba Abad

After the oath ceremony Hadi talked to them indicating to the importance of this step and their mission in particular in this circumstances.

He noted to the role should be played by the authority’s members to combat corruption in the country.

Several topics and issues were discussed during the meeting related to the current stage and dedicate circumstancesYemenhas been facing in particular nowadays.

”You have to face challenges and difficulties and we have to exert more efforts in order to combat corruption to give opportunities to youths,” the President said.

Saudi Shoura Council Tells NAAC not to Waste Time on Petty Corruption

Members of the Shoura Council have advised the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) not to waste time on petty cases but concentrate on fighting corruption in major projects.
The Shoura members made these comments at a question-and-answer session held with the Nazaha recently.
Dr. Fahd Al-Hammad, vice-chairman of the Shoura Council, said that the council listened to the report of the Nazaha, read out by Abdullah Al-Zafiri.
The Shoura members said that the Nazaha plays a crucial role in eliminating corruption in the Kingdom. They called on other government bodies with similar mandates to coordinate their work with the anti-graft body.
In its submission to the Shoura Council, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) said that government bodies must submit responses to Nazaha inquiries.
The HRC called for the Nazaha to develop clear criteria as a framework for deciding on cases to be referred to regulatory and investigative agencies.
One Shoura Council member said that since this was the first report of the Nazaha, “it should have included its future plans, strategies and objectives.”
Another member asked why the organization only gave details of 50 cases but had said it received 228 reports. “So what does it mean when it says that it handled the things contained in them?” he asked.
Another member wanted to know if the Nazaha “receives reports only from citizens, or does its staff embark on projects and initiatives?“
The council agreed to give the Nazaha time to respond to the questions at a future session.

King Abdullah Tells NACC Not to Keep Quiet Until After Investigation is Complete

Higher authorities have instructed the National Anti-Corruption Commission not to announce financial and administrative corruption cases except after investigations proved the charges against the suspects were true.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has instructed authorities to provide the commission with adequate number of qualified officials to carry out its mission perfectly, an informed source said.
“The commission has been directed to carry out its activities in accordance with its rules and regulations,” the source said. The announcement of corruption cases should be made without mentioning names of people involved.
The commission has been instrumental in unveiling a number of corruption cases, including receiving bribes by government officials, improper distribution of agricultural land and misusing of public money by some SAGIA officials.
Last year, the commission received information about more than 1,000 corruption cases. It found that many public projects such as hospitals and schools have been delayed because government officials did not follow those projects.
Many projects have been carried out by contractors with defects and without necessary specifications, the commission found. Some public health service facilities including hospitals and health centers lacked necessary health-care facilities.
Among the total complaints received by the commission, 260 were related to financial and administrative corruption and 115 were related to negligence in services, the commission said, adding that it tackled 228 cases.

Saudi Government Departments Ignore National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha)

(MENAFN – Arab News) Several government departments have failed to respond to inquiries made by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha).

Failure to cooperate with Nazaha-led investigation violates Article 5 of the commission’s regulations and royal decrees that stress the government departments’ commitment to this article.

The Human Rights Committee (HRC) in the Shoura Council said: “The commission should exert more effort to follow up on reports and cases to meet the aspirations of citizens. It should direct its anti-corruption policies and integrity promotion to cases and issues that infringe on public money and follow up on implementing orders and operations related to public matters.”

The committee said Nazaha referred notifications directly to the authority in question and to other supervisory or investigative entities.

The HRC contacted the commission about its standard procedure, which stated that it was contingent upon the degree of financial and administrative corruption.

It added that this criterion could not be reliable unless the commission used clear and accurate standards. Estimating the strength or weakness of evidence is purely a technical matter that has its specialized authorities.

It called on the Anti-Corruption Commission to review the methods and working procedures of entities to determine loopholes that could lead to corruption.

The commission has drowned itself in the details of small projects, moving away from big enterprises estimated at billions of riyals, it said.

Malaysian Economic Collapse Certain if Corruption not Curbed, says MACC – Bernama

The inability to curb corrupt practices will result in the destruction and decline of the country’s economic stability, said chief of NKRA Enforcement and Regulation Sector, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Shuhairoz Mohamed Shukeri.

Therefore, all quarters including the mass media need to collaborate to teach the public on corruption and how it can hurt the country.

Speaking to reporters after the state-level MACC Dinner Talk With The Media at Ocean Glow, Kuala Perlis, last night, he said tackling corruption should be the responsibility of all quarters.

According to Shuhairoz, the MACC and its 4,000 members will ensure that corruption is dealt with and hoped the community would do their part to reject such activities.

He added that the mass media also assisted the MACC with fighting corruption through reports which make a positive impact and increases awareness on corruption.

Earlier, Perlis MACC deputy director Ishak Taib, in his speech, said media personnel in Perlis had contributed towards the success of anti-corruption campaigns through their reports.

Among the latest cases reported by the media was a campaign involving taxi drivers statewide last week, he said. – Bernama, September 14, 2013.

Cancer of Corruption Led to Arab Spring

Several factors gave rise to the Arab Spring that took over the psyche of masses of Arabs and led to the downfall of firmly entrenched leaders, some who had been occupying their seats of power for more than three decades.  One factor that was often ignored, overlooked and dwarfed by calls for political freedom, human rights, and an end to state-sponsored repression was the vice of corruption.

To the Arab on the street, it was the corruption he witnessed around him that made him lose faith in the governing body. It ate at his conscience and his ethics, and eventually bit into his pocket. And when that happened, the individual had very little to lose.

The governed in these countries just had to look at their leaders and their lifestyles and then compare them to their own bleak and impoverished existence before coming to a realisation that something had to be done, and thus they took to the streets. The prevalent moral decay fuelled enough anger and revolt regionally that long established governments and power structures once considered solid have crumbled.  But corruption is not confined to the region alone.

The annual study released by Transparency International (TI), the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 displays how corruption continues to devastate societies around the world.  The 2012 report offers a breakdown of individual countries’ scores and how corrupt their public sectors have been ranked. Two-thirds of the 176 countries ranked in the 2012 index score below the median, indicating a major problem with corruption.

Following the release of the study, Cobus de Swardt of Transparency International said, ‘Corruption is the world’s most talked about problem. The world’s leading economies should lead by example, making sure that their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable. This is crucial since their institutions play a significant role in preventing corruption from flourishing globally.”

“Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making. Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people,” added Huguette Labelle, the chair of TI.

“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 results demonstrate that societies continue to pay the high cost of corruption.  Many of the countries where citizens challenged their leaders to stop corruption –from the Middle East to Asia to Europe – have seen their positions in the index stagnate or worsen,” Labelle concluded.

In the 2012 Corruptions Index results, Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tied for first place as the cleanest run governments with scores of 90.  The mechanisms guarding transparency in place in these countries allowed the public unrestricted access to information systems and rules governing the behaviour of those in public positions.

At the bottom of the list were understandably the countries of Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia.  As TI says, “In these countries the lack of accountable leadership and effective public institutions underscore the need to take a much stronger stance against corruption.”

Among the GCC countries, only Qatar and the UAE coasted above the median line, while the rest fell beneath.  This is not very encouraging for the rest of the region.  Governments in some of the countries have however begun to sit up and take notice, and action legislation designed to fight this growing evil.

In Saudi Arabia, the state-appointed anti-corruption commission mandated under the directives of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz was formed and given full autonomy to investigate corruption across all government agencies.  As it stands now, it has its hands full, weaving through a myriad of corrupt bureaucrats in several agencies, with suspicious dealings, failed projects or unaccounted public funds.

It has unearthed verified cases of unethical administration of public funds and sent their reports to the respective ministries.  But many complain that it is not enough.  They argue that simply generating reports proving corruption without a follow up of censure, punishment and jail time is not going to arrest the tide of corruption.   For one, they demand that corrupt officials must be publicly identified and shamed.  The commission must also be allowed more teeth and more bite.  The judicial authorities should work hand in hand with the commission to administer swift justice.

TI rightly claims that “corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or health-care. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds. Corruption destroys lives and communities, and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilise societies and exacerbate violent conflicts.”

All public servants must be held accountable for their misdeeds.  Some citizens have even suggested a declaration of assets of public service personnel before they are appointed to their posts. Governments too should increase transparency in public spending and the awarding of contracts to allow less room for deceit and embezzlement of public funds.

Corruption is a cancer that slowly eats away the moral fibre of a country, and eventually leads to unrest and turmoil.  It must be arrested if not stopped altogether.  Those guilty of promoting this vice must not be allowed to get away scot-free.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This article appeared in the Gulf News.