Increasingly in the national and international news the question of conflicts of interests and corruption on sport is also a topic of discussions within international organizations and multi-stakeholders platforms and initiatives that gather an increasing number of actors concerned. Indeed, the United Nations Office against drug and crime, in partnership with Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa, organized a conference on corruption and sport in Vienna on 5 June. Furthermore, the International partnership against corruption in sport (IPACS) gathered in Lausanne on 29 June to evaluate the results of three dedicated working groups.
While the Football World Cup takes place, after the President of the national football federation in Ghana resigned upon corruption allegations, June 2018 is an occasion to mention risks in the attribution and organization of major sports events. And this allows to remind suspicions on past and future events, such as the opening of an investigation on the awarding of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the suspicions of corruption in the 2022 World Cup that was awarded to Qatar. Yet, it would be erroneous to consider these major sports events only, given, for instance, that thirteen arrests took place in Belgium in June in a scandal of tennis match-fixing. A preventive approach, confronted with a large number of questions to be answered from awarding contracts to good governance, including whistleblowers’ protection for instance, is needed and organizers must be able to ask for counsel and recommendations to international organizations and national agencies acting in the field of promotion of integrity.
This was the exact meaning of the speech delivered on 5 June by Yury Fedotov, Executive director of UNODC, when he notably declared “Together we can promote integrity, stop criminals from exploiting sport for illicit gain and harness the power of sport as a force for development and peace.”
INTERNATIONAL & MULTILATERAL
On 6 June, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the anticorruption body of the Council of Europe, published its sixth interim compliance report on transparency of party funding for Denmark in the framework of the third evaluation round. The country has implemented six out of the fourteen recommendations of the 2010 evaluation report. GRECO expressed its disappointment about “the limited results” achieved eight years after this first report.
On 14 June, GRECO published its second compliance report for the Netherlands in the framework of the fourth evaluation round on corruption prevention in respect of members of Parliament, judges and prosecutors. The country has implemented satisfactorily three of the seven recommendations contained in the fourth round evaluation report. The anticorruption body notably asked that both chambers of the Parliament establish guidelines for representatives’ contacts with “third parties”.
Furthermore, in a statement released on 22 June, GRECO criticized Poland’s legislation on the judiciary. The anticorruption body expressed concerns about the disrespect of anticorruption norms relating to judicial independence and about the rule of law in Poland.
On 28 June, the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunity and Institutional Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided a lifetime ban of 14 former representatives in the “caviargate” case. Involved in the affair of vote buying by the Azerbaijani Government, these former PACE members are deprived of access to the offices of the Council of Europe and of the Parliamentary Assembly.
In an article published in The Parliament Magazine on 6 June, the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly justified the sending to the Parliament, on May, of a special report on the lack of transparency on Council’s deliberations. Mrs. O’Reilly underlined that citizens’ better knowledge on how their governments positioned themselves within this institution would give it more credit.
On 7 June, the European Banking Authority opened an investigation in relation to the Maltese anti-money laundering watchdog, over its handling of Pilatus Bank. The watchdog froze the bank’s assets after the American judiciary had indicted its chair Ali Sadr Hasheminejad. The banker was accused of breaching the sanctions against Iran. On 30 June, the Maltese agency asked the European Banking Authority to withdraw the Pilatus Bank’s license.
In a letter sent on 8 June, the Ghanaian high official of the African Union (AU) Daniel Batidam announced his dismissal. His decision was taken to denounce corrupt practices within the Advisory Board on Corruption and others bodies of the international organization.
On 28 June, the AU’s Executive Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs opened in Nouakchott its 33rd ordinary session notably focusing on one of its main priorities for this year: fighting corruption. Regretting the annual 50 billion dollars loss due to this phenomenon, the President of the Commission of the AU, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for a “multi-faceted action”.
On 29 June, the International Partnership against Corruption in Sport (IPACS) met in Lausanne to assess the actions implemented within it to deal with “the most urgent issues in the field of sport”. Three working groups presented their results on reducing the risk of corruption in procurement, respecting integrity in the selection procedures of major sport events and optimizing compliance processes. The next meeting of the working groups will take place in London in December 2018.
On 7 June, Transparency International’s chapter in Brussels held a debate about the role of digital innovation in good governance in the public sector. On 21 June, another debate occurred on the issue of lobbying transparency. On this occasion, the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans insisted on the need to extend full transparency to all the European institutions to enhance the legitimacy of their decisions. Daniel Freund, the head of advocacy for EU integrity at Transparency International EU, recalled the difficulty to regulate indirect lobbying.
Indicted on suspicions of corruption in the management of his ports in Africa, the French businessman Vincent Bolloré regretted the predictable impact of this affair on his business. Mr. Bolloré showed confidence to get through this difficult time.
On 8 June, the judge Mjabuliseni Madondo decided to postpone the trial of former South-African President Jacob Zuma until 27 July in Pietermaritzburg because this court would have a greater capacity to welcome the public. On the same day, the former President stated in front of supporters that charges against him should be abandoned. Notably suspected of fraud, corruption and money laundering, Mr. Zuma claimed his innocence and said that he could reveal information related to corruption cases involving several leaders in power in the country.
The 2018 edition of the Governance National Days ended on 23 June. Organized by both the National Authority against corruption and the Front of National Organizations against corruption, these two days of discussions led to 51 recommendations submitted to Beninese institutions. They should allow the country to combat corruption more efficiently and to decrease impunity.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
On 16 June, Luc Fikiri Murefu, candidate to the presidential election of December 2018, made public some proposals to tackle corruption. He announced that he wanted to create both a Ministry specifically devoted to this purpose and a special police unit.
From 20 to 22 June, Kinshasa welcomed the regional meeting of Transparency International for Africa. This gathering of civil society actors committed to fighting corruption aimed to evaluate the implemented actions and assess the future prospects for the region. During this event, Emmanuel Luzolo Bambi, President Joseph Kabila’s anticorruption advisor, estimated that corruption has been costing 15 billion dollars to the Democratic Republic of Congo per year.
On 6 June, the Deputy and former Minister Gnamien Konan defended several proposals aiming to tackle corruption and improve the electoral process before the press. Stating that corruption deprived the State from “1,000 to 2,000 billion CFA francs each year”, the President of the young political movement “L@ Nouvelle Côte d’Ivoire” notably announced that he wanted to exempt deputies and senators from disclosing their assets, because they had not been managing public funds, in order to ease the work of the High Authority for Good Governance (HABG). He also said that he was in favor of online disclosure process and public declarations.
On 13 June, the HABG and the National Institute of Statistics launched a study on anticorruption practices in public administrations. This work should allow them to evaluate the risks of corruption to better prevent them. Furthermore, a HABG team came to the National Assembly from 25 to 27 June to collect asset declarations from Ivorian deputies. The representatives submitted to the High Authority the list of all their respective movable and immovable properties.
After Medias revealed that several of its executives were corrupted, on 7 June, the Government decided to dissolve the Ghanaian Football Federation.
Given the recent scandals of corruption, the Ministry of Interior announced on 4 June a 30-day suspension for many civil servants working in the fields of procurement and accounting. They will have to prove their probity to resume their duties. In a speech given on 28 June, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that he aimed at recovering the 90 billion euros diverted by employees in the National Youth Service. The revelation of this case at the end of May 2018 left its mark and led to the arrest of about 50 persons.
The Anti-Graft Special Unit (PAC) was inaugurated in Antananarivo on 15 June. Chaired by Aimé Rasoloharimanana and composed of 23 magistrates, it is the first of the six PAC to be established. This independent and autonomous jurisdiction will fight against serious economic and financial crime.
On 8 June, tens of thousands of people marched peacefully in the streets of Bamako following the call of the Malian opposition. They asked for transparency in the presidential election which will occur on 29 July.
Minister of Finances Pravind Jugnauth proposed that the Government should sell Mauritian passport and nationality respectively to 500,000 and one million dollars in order to increase the State revenues. This idea was challenged because the implementation of a similar measure in The Comoros led to a corruption scandal involving two formers Presidents of the archipelago.
On 23 and 24 June, Maputo welcomed the Executive Committee of the Association of African Prosecutors (APA) to discuss “the role of judges in fighting corruption”. Thirteen African states were represented in this meeting which also aimed at preparing the annual conference of African prosecutors which will take place in Mauritius at the beginning of November.
On 30 May, former Governor of Taraba Jolly Nyame was sentenced to 14 years in prison for misappropriation of funds. On 1 June, the spokesman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission mentioned that several former Governors were currently being prosecuted for corruption cases.
In a resolution published on 6 June, the Nigerian Parliament stated that it could impeach President Muhammadu Buhari if he does not manage to improve the fight against corruption. All Progressive Congress, the parliamentary group of the majority, denounced this resolution because it was not voted.
On the occasion of the Africa Public Service Day on 23 June, the General Department of Public Service and Administrative Reform held a meeting in the National School of Administration on the theme of fighting corruption in public administrations.
On 12 June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by police as a witness in an alleged corruption case related to the purchase by Israel of three German submarines. While he was not suspected in this affair, Mr. Netanyahu was directly targeted by two inquiries in which the police of Israel asked for his indictment in February.
In an article published on 19 June, L’Orient-Le Jour reported that anticorruption was one of the main topics discussed during a meeting between Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, and Minister Gebran Bassil of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). The fact that President of the Republic Michel Aoun made fighting corruption his priority probably contributed to convince Hezbollah to follow him.
Suspected of corruption with the Libyan sovereign fund and manipulation of Libor interbank rate, Société Générale announced on 4 June reaching a principle agreements with the competent authorities in France and the United States to resolve these issues. In the framework of these agreements, the French bank disbursed more than one billion dollars.
On 23 June, as part of the United Nations Public Service Forum, Marrakech hosted an event on the role of transparency, integrity and anticorruption in the achievement of sustainable development goals. On this occasion, Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, United Cities and Local Government of Africa’s Secretary General, underlined the fact that most African countries had criminalized corruption. He welcomed the decision of the African Union to make 2018 the year of anticorruption on the continent.
On 14 June, the National instance against corruption (INLUCC) alerted the Assembly of People’s Representatives on the weaknesses of the draft bill on asset disclosure, fight against illicit enrichment and conflicts of interests. To be able to control declarations as defined by the law, the INLUCC notably invited the representatives to reduce the number of individuals subject to this obligation and to strengthen its human and material means. On 19 June, on the occasion of the bill review, Samia Abbou, Deputy of the opposition party Attayar, accused the Government of maintaining suspected Ministers in charge while fighting corruption. Furthermore, the representative estimated that the discussion of the bill was the result of the pressure of international organizations.
From 18 to 20 June, Tunisia hosted the international conference on the future of public transactions in the digital era. Opening the conference, Head of Government Youssef Chahed recalled that he had implemented an “integral plan” against corruption and welcomed the progress made in procurement.
On 22 June, the electoral committee of the Assembly made public the preliminary lists of the 30 candidates for the good governance and anticorruption body. As provided by legislation, the institution will be composed of nine members.
On 1 June, the head of state-owned enterprise Petrobras, Pedro Parente, resigned after a conflict concerning the pricing policy. The company was trying to recover after being at the heart of the “Car Wash” corruption case which involved three former Heads of State. More than two billion dollars were diverted.
On 19 June, in relation to this affair, President of Workers’ Party Gleisi Hoffmann and her husband Paulo Bernardo, Lula’s former Minister, were acquitted by the Supreme Federal Court. Theses relatives of the former Brazilian President were accused of corruption and money laundering.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court cancelled the examination – planned on 26 June – of Lula’s release request that he had justified by presumption of innocence. The court of appeal, which sentenced Lula to more than 12 years in prison in January, estimated that such a request could not be examined by the Supreme Court.
On 7 June, Nancy Bélanger published her first annual report as Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada. During the past year, about 9,000 lobbyists were registered by the Office. Its staff processed more than 6,000 requests particularly related to recording procedures. On 13 June, Ms. Bélanger asked before the press for additional resources to accomplish her missions. She recalled that the budget of the Office had not increased since its creation, 10 years ago.
On 8 June, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police opened an inquiry on real estate acquisitions made by several African officials and their relatives. Launched after an investigation led by Journal de Montréal, this procedure should determine if the properties were lawfully purchased.
On 14 June, Quebec National Assembly rejected the report delivered on 5 June by the Ethics Commissioner according to which the representative Pierre Paradis’s family possibly benefited from his housing allowance. He therefore did not pay the 24,000 dollar fine recommended by the report. Liberal representatives voted following the opinion of a private law office contacted by the Government according to which Mr. Paradis did not violate the code of ethics. Ethics Commissioner Anne Mignolet said that she was concerned by the rejection of her findings and maintained her accusations against him. In a statement released on 15 June, the representative asked Ms. Mignolet to retract her remarks to protect his reputation.
On 16 June, Quebec Deputy and Minister for Integrity in Public Procurement and for Information Resources Robert Poëti announced that he will ask the Ethics Commissioner for an opinion before accepting to undertake activities as the Head of the Quebec Automobile Dealers Corporation at the end of his current functions. The Commissioner will determine the possible risk of conflict of interests.
In a report released on 18 June, the Federal Ethics Commissioner ruled out the suspicions on Finance Minister Bill Morneau. It was established that Mr. Morneau had not gain unfair advantage from the introduction of a bill on pension funds while he was a shareholder of Morneau Shepell, which administers pension plans. Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion stated that the bill in question was of “general application” and that it did not met the legal definition of a personal interest.
On 22 June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was fined 100 dollars for breaking the law on conflicts of interests. He omitted to disclose two pairs of sunglasses given by the Fellow Earthlings Company valued over the 200 dollars disclosure threshold.
On 25 June, the jury of Laval courthouse found Tony Accurso guilty of corruption in municipal affairs, breach of trust by a public officer, fraud and conspiracy. Mr. Accurso was the last defendant in the “Honorer” investigation conducted by the Permanent Anticorruption unit on collusion and corruption in Laval during Gilles Vaillancourt’s municipal mandates. Furthermore, he is still facing a civil action initiated by the City to recover about 29 million dollars.
On 17 June, the conservative right-wing candidate, Ivan Duque, won the second round of the presidential election with 54% of the votes cast. On the night of his election, Mr. Duque announced that the fight against corruption will be one of his priorities.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
While President Donald Trump repeated on 4 June that he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself in case of conviction for a possible collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign, the Time published on article to clarify this issue. If the Constitution basically recognizes such a power, a memorandum written in the framework of the “Watergate” by the legal services of the Department of Justice stated on the contrary that nobody can judge one’s own case. Various Democratic and Republican Senators disapproved of the President’s view. In this case, former campaign chief Paul Manafort’s parole was revoked on 15 June to prevent him from influence witnesses in his trial. He will be judged this summer for money laundering, tax and bank fraud and illegal lobbying.
On 12 June, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed complaints against Freedom Vote, an Ohio-based group. CREW accused Freedom Vote of omitting to report parts of its expenditures for political advertising, disregarding elections financing rules.
Information disclosed by Forbes magazine on 18 June revealed that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was possibly in a situation of conflict of interests. Mr. Ross allegedly conserved financial links with Chinese state-owned enterprises and lied in his declaration submitted in November 2017 to the Office of Government Ethics.
According to information delivered in USA Today on 21 June, Donald Trump’s safety during his 16 stays in his Mar-a-Lago residence costed American taxpayers about 20 million dollars. Such an amount was due to a special presence of coastguards to protect the President.
In an article published by The Hill on 22 June, Ralph Norman, member of the House of Representatives, reviewed his action for transparency in the use of public funds on officials’ travels. He notably presented the FLY Act, which strengthens reporting obligations in this regard for Ministers and heads of federal agencies.
On 24 June, The New York Times reported that ethics defenders were concerned with Donald Trump commemorative coins. Funded by the Republican National Committee, these coins are made to highlight significant events of the presidential mandate. Ethics watchdogs recalled that the making of such items cannot be funded by public money and recommended that editions related to partisan politics are not distributed to the military.
The Front-runner in the presidential election that will take place on 1 July, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, declared the fight against corruption as his priority. Willing to “dismantle privileges” within the Mexican society, he made public his intention to transform the country “deeply” and “peacefully” in a speech given on 28 June. Recalling on the same day that Mexico is ranked 135th on the Corruption Perceptions Index established by Transparency International, Courrier International noticed that all candidates for the election committed to appoint a general attorney and an anticorruption prosecutor, both “autonomous and independent”. The cost of corruption in Mexico amounts to 10% of its annual GDP.
On 9 June, the United States allowed former President Ricardo Martinelli’s extradition asked by current Head of State Juan Carlos Varela. Arrested in Florida last year, Mr. Martinelli is suspected of organizing the illegal surveillance of more than 150 people with public funds.
On 7 June, the Congress rejected the dismissal of Deputy Kenji Fujimori. Accused of attempting to buy votes in order to prevent President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s impeachment in return for the pardon of his father, Mr. Fujimori remains suspended from his duties.
On 22 June, Airbus aerospace group was subject of an investigation conducted by the French judiciary in the framework of the “Kazakhgate” alleged corruption case, relating to commercial contracts concluded between France and Kazakhstan during Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency.
On 6 June the Prime Minister announced the resignation of Governor of Central Bank of Malaysia Muhammad Ibrahim. He stated that he did it to protect the image of the Bank while its land purchase had been raising questions about a possible involvement in the sovereign fund 1MDB case. In this regard, Reuters revealed on 8 June that Malaysia was intending to ask the U.S Department of Justice to get Goldman Sachs to return nearly 600 million dollars earned by selling 1MDB’s bonds.
On 22 June, the investigation on the assassination of Altantuya Shaariibuu was reopened by the Malaysian judiciary. The death of the 28-year-old interpreter and model on 19 October 2006 could be related to a corruption case on the purchase by Malaysia of French submarines. She was close to Abdul Razak Baginda, who was possibly a middleman in bribing Malaysian officials and was indicted in 2017 by French courts for complicity of active and passive corruption and concealment of corporate assets misappropriation.
In an article published on 25 June, Le Courrier du Vietnam reported the work of the National Assembly on the bill to prevent and tackle corruption. Vietnamese Deputies decided to expand its scope to private sector in order to strengthen its efficiency.
In Germany, the level of corruption repression in business remained high. The OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions stated on 21 June that 328 people and 18 companies had been prosecuted and sanctioned for such cases. The group encouraged Germany to enhance its repressive measures against companies.
According to a study on corruption conducted by EY audit firm published on 7 June, 20% of Belgian managers faced fraudulent practices during the past two years.
On 1 June, the Parliament passed a no confidence vote against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. He knew that his position were weakened by the conviction of the People’s party for corruption cases in the “Gürtel” affair. Deputies gave their confidence to Pedro Sanchez, socialist leader, who appointed a new Government on 6 June.
On 12 June, King’s brother-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin was sentenced on appeal to five years and ten months in prison for misusing subsidies from the Noos foundation between 2004 and 2006. He was incarcerated on 18 June.
On 13 June, the new Minister of Culture and Sport, Màxim Huerta was forced to resign after Medias revealed that he was subject to a tax adjustment between 2006 and 2008. While he was a television presenter, Mr. Huerta established a company to collect his fees in order to reduce his taxes. He was replaced by the former Director of the Madrid Museum of Queen Sofia, Jose Guirao.
In a statement released on 15 June, Transparency International (TI) echoed these Spanish anticorruption news, which suggested that a new “climate of accountability” was born in the country. However, the non-governmental organization (NGO) considered that Spanish authorities should intensify their efforts to tackle corruption. Among its recommendations, TI advocated for transposing the EU Directive on whistleblowers’ protection following the principles and good practices defined by the NGO.
On February 2018, three anonymous whistleblowers accused Greek officials of accepting money from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. Two former Prime Ministers, Antonis Samaras and Panagiotis Pikrammenos, and the current Governor of the Central Bank are notably concerned by the inquiry conducted by the prosecutors. Former Secretary General of the Ministry of Economy Stefanos Komninos is suspected of deliberately overestimating prices of some medicines. On 30 May, staff members of the chief anti-corruption prosecutor indicated to Politico that formal charges against officials were expected in the coming months.
Nine persons were arrested in the framework of an inquiry opened on 8 June by the public prosecutor’s office in Roma on the building of the new AS Roma’s stadium. Builder Luca Parnasi is notably accused of corrupting local officials to ease the awarding of the building permit. On 15 June, Romas’ mayor Virginia Raggi was questioned as witness in this inquiry involving a number of persons close to her party, the Five Star Movement.
In an article published on 11 June, RFI reported that the dismissal procedure initiated by the Ministry of Justice against the chief prosecutor of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Codruța Kövesi, may succeed. Contesting that decision, President Klaus Iohannis may be forced to give in because the Constitutional Court did not admit that he had a prerogative to decide in this case. Ms. Kövesi accused the Romania Government to threaten the independence of prosecutors on several occasions.
On 21 June, the Social Democratic party leader and President of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for corruption. Judges of the Bucarest High Court of Cassation and Justice found him guilty of organizing the fictitious employment of two members of his party within state social services. Due to the prohibition on combining sanctions, this sentence cancelled the two-year stay of execution pronounced against him in 2016 for electoral fraud attempt.
The British Ministry of Foreign Affairs was ranked 40th among 45 in the 2018 Aid Transparency Index established by the campaign “Publish What You Fund”. In an article published on 20 June, The Guardian reported this information, specifying that Department for International Development (DfID) came third, “with a rating of very good”.
On 7 June, the Parliament approved the creation of an anticorruption court. It was a condition to the awarding of 17.5 billion euros of aid by the International Monetary Fund. On the same day, the Parliament voted the dismissal of Minister of Finance Oleksandr Danylyuk that had recently criticized Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman’s lack of commitment to fighting corruption.