International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021

March was marked by multiple corruption cases in Germany concerning commissions allegedly paid to members of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) for the purchase of masks in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. These scandals have accelerated the revision of the rules of conduct for members of the Bundestag and the adoption of a lobbying register. For example, members of the Bundestag may no longer be paid for consultancy work for third parties.

In Italy and South Korea, conflict of interest legislation is emerging. The UK has been criticised by the Open Government Partnership for its lack of progress on transparency and conflicts of interest in managing the Covid-19 crisis.

The pandemic continues to fuel corruption in Zimbabwe, where masks are stolen for resale on the black market.


International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021

On 26 March, the European Ombudsman published an investigation into the Council’s transparency during the health crisis. In particular, it regrets that the Council waited almost six months to publicly detail its new working methods during the pandemic. The proportion of written consultations in the Council’s working groups has increased with the pandemic, and the Ombudsman advocates that all such documents should be available in the Council’s public document register. (Contexte, 29 March 2021)

On 30 March, Member States rejected draft guidelines on the use of private sponsors by rotating EU Council presidencies. The text, which was rejected in September 2020, was amended. It provided that Member States should put in place the necessary measures to prevent conflicts of interest instead of avoiding them as proposed in the previous version. France, which opposed both versions of the text, has already planned to use sponsors for its presidency in 2022. (Contexte, 26 March 2021)

International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021

The European Anti-Fraud Office is warning Member States to beware of scams as they are increasingly tempted to buy vaccine doses outside of EU contracts. OLAF has warned of alleged middlemen who have tried to sell one billion fictitious doses of vaccine to Europe. All this for an amount of about 14 billion euros. (Le Figaro, 02 March 2021)

International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021

The immunity of French MEP Jean-François Jalkh was lifted on 25 March. The majority vote in the European Parliament was a precondition for his possible indictment in the investigation into suspected fictitious employment of MEPs’ assistants from the Rassemblement National (RN) party. The magistrates of the national financial prosecutor’s office suspect the RN of a system of embezzlement of the budgets allocated by the European Union to each MEP to pay parliamentary assistants. The European Parliament estimated its loss at €6.8 million in this case, which also led to separate investigations of the Modem and France Insoumise parties. (AFP, 25 March 2021)

International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021

The adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee has found former FIFA President Joseph Blatter and former FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke guilty of several breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics. The investigation against Blatter and Valcke covered a number of charges, including the payment of bonuses to senior FIFA officials in connection with FIFA competitions. Article 19 of the Code of Ethics on conflicts of interest was breached. Blatter and Valcke are banned from all football-related activities (administrative, sporting and other) at the national and international level for six years and eight months respectively and fined more than €900,000. (FIFA, 24 March 2021)



International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021


Angela Merkel’s CDU is reeling from corruption scandals, six months before the general election. Elected officials are alleged to have received commissions on mask purchases of up to €1.2 million. Several MPs also reportedly received money from Azerbaijan in a separate case. The CDU/CSU dismissed the Bundestag members involved. (Le Monde, 31 March 2021)

These cases come as a new law now requires professional lobbyists to sign on to a Bundestag register, which is open to public inspection. The CDU/CSU also reached an agreement with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to ban paid consultancy activities in connection with issues that Members of Parliament deal with in the Bundestag. Adopted on 26 March, the law requires MPs to report all additional income as soon as it exceeds €1,000 per month (or €3,000 for an activity spread over the year). MPs will also have to disclose any shareholding in a company if it exceeds 5% of the company’s capital (compared to 25% up to now). Finally, MPs can no longer be paid for speeches. 30% of the members of the Bundestag are gainfully employed in addition to their elected office. (La Tribune, 26 March 2021)


The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) highlights the progress to be made by Italy on regulating representation and conflicts of interest. Nevertheless, the reports currently under discussion in Parliament on these two issues have been positively received by GRECO. Giuseppe Brescia (M5S), Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies’ Constitutional Affairs Committee and rapporteur for the conflict of interest law, believes that these texts must now be adopted quickly. Matteo Renzi, the former Italian Prime Minister, made headlines in early March because he sits on the board of the Future Investment Initiative, an annual Saudi investment forum. (Il Fatto Quotidiano, 30 March 2021)


An international consortium of journalists has revealed that a Chinese national linked to a state-owned Chinese company played a role in the corruption scheme that led to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. Shanghai Electric Power is suspected of having asked relatives to set up front companies to pay kickbacks to Maltese officials. Daphne Caruana Galizia was investigating this lead at the time of her murder. The investigation into this crime brought down the Maltese government in 2020. (Contexte, 31 March 2021)


The UK is under review by the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which claims that the country has failed to deliver on its promises to increase transparency. However, the UK was a founding member of the OGP coalition in 2011 and is its largest funder. The UK has not sufficiently involved its citizens in the development of its open government agenda and has delivered its last two plans late. But the OGP is most concerned about recent problems of conflict of interest in the awarding of public contracts related to the Covid-19 epidemic and the control of information by the government. (Sky news, 3 March 2021)

David Cameron has been cleared in an investigation by the UK Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, which found that the former Prime Minister was entitled to contact members of government on behalf of the financial services company Greensill Capital, for which he works. David Cameron is not on the register, which applies only to consultants and therefore does not cover in-house lobbyists. This is the case for David Cameron according to Greensill and the UK Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists. (BBC, 28 March 2021)


President Zuzana Caputova has suspended intelligence chief Vladimir Pcolinsky after police arrested him on suspicion of corruption. Vladimir Pcolinsky is suspected of having accepted a bribe from Zoroslav Kollar, an influential businessman arrested in October 2020, in exchange for ending the Slovak intelligence investigation against him. (Euractiv, 12 March 2021)

International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021


On 12 March, the European Council ended the freezing of the assets of the family of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. These assets, spread around the world, are the result of a misappropriation of public money by the Mubarak clan, estimated at €70 billion. Transparency International will work to revive the preliminary investigation opened in France in 2011 for organised money laundering and corruption, in which the NGO is claiming damages. (Jeune Afrique, 29 March 2021)


On Wednesday 10 March the Libyan parliament gave a vote of confidence to the new Libyan national unity government led by Abdel Hamid Dbeibah. However, his election by a mini-college of 74 Libyan delegates last February in Geneva, under the auspices of the United Nations, is now surrounded by suspicions of vote buying. According to a report by the UN panel of experts on Libya published on 16 March, two members of the college offered bribes to three participants in exchange for a commitment to vote for Mr Dbeibah as prime minister. Delegates called for an investigation by the UN Secretary General. (Le Temps, 17 March 2021)


Italian oil company ENI has offered to pay a fine of €11.8 million to the Milan public prosecutor’s office to end an investigation into the company and one of its executives. The case concerns suspected corruption in Congo-Brazzaville in connection with oil licence renewals. The group is suspected of having agreed to sell shares in its licence to a shell company owned by Congolese officials in return for these renewals. (Le Monde, 19 March 2021)


In a country devastated by a severe economic crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to deepen corruption. Stocks of masks donated by UNICEF were found by the authorities after being stolen. The government has set up an anti-corruption observatory, which is investigating dozens of cases involving public officials in the embezzlement of public funds linked to Covid-19. In 2020, the minister of health resigned because of the opacity of the contract with a foreign company for the purchase of protective equipment and tests. Transparency International has documented 1,400 cases of corruption in public health, police and humanitarian aid related to the pandemic. (Le Monde, 23 March 2021)

International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021


Canada’s former ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, did not violate the lobbying law by communicating with senior US officials and proposing that his new employer, Palantir Technologies Canada, provide pro bono assistance in the fight against Covid-19. According to the Canadian Commissioner of Lobbying, Nancy Bélanger, since these communications are short and do not constitute a significant part of Mr. MacNaughton’s work, there is no breach of the law. Mario Dion, Canada’s Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, concluded last September that Mr. MacNaughton had breached the conflict of interest law. For taking improper advantage of his former position, the Commissioner banned all contact between Mr. MacNaughton and certain Canadian public officials for one year. (The Canadian Press, 23 March 2021)


The Biden administration’s financial disclosures were made late and after the legal deadlines. An analysis of the content of these statements reveals that a significant number of senior White House officials hold shares in Covid-19 vaccine companies and that their stock holdings could benefit from the US stimulus package. The White House has not yet communicated how these potential conflicts of interest will be managed. (The American Prospect, 29 March 2021)

International Newsletter of HATVP – March 2021


A former NSW anti-corruption commissioner has criticised the state government’s proposed budget cuts to five integrity agencies. These cuts would pose a serious and immediate threat to the ability of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to carry out its work, according to its chief commissioner. The executive’s control of the funding of these independent agencies is criticised. (The Guardian, 25 March 2021)


The ruling junta accuses Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption. The military alleges that the Nobel Peace Prize winner received $550,000 in bribes from a property developer. The lawyer for the former head of government refutes these accusations. Arrested during the coup on 1 February, the former leader has been charged four times in the past. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won the November parliamentary elections by a wide margin, but the coup generals claim that the elections were marred by electoral fraud, an allegation unconfirmed by observers. (Le Monde, 18 March 2021)


On Monday 29 March, President Moon Jae-In stressed the need to introduce legislation to prevent officials from taking undue advantage of their positions, citing public outrage over alleged speculative land purchases involving officials of the state-owned Korea Land and Housing Corp (LH). Following a meeting of the anti-corruption council, the South Korean president called for the introduction of a law on the prevention of conflicts of interest for public officials. A previous bill was rejected several years ago. According to Moon Jae-In, property registration should be extended to all civil servants in South Korea. (Yonhap News Agency, 29 March 2021)


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