The most from the coast


by Xia Lin, Jia
Anping LIMA Peru (Xinhua) —
Despite
Peru’s effort to crack the corrupt network associated with
Brazil’s bribe-spreading infrastructure-building giant Odebrecht,
a mega-suspect is still at large, a situation that is
intolerable to the country, an expert said.

“It is a
problem that is affecting us.

“We have to rethink how we are behaving like society, like
human.

“We have become very individualized,” Ines Tello, a judicial
consultant, told Xinhua in Lima.

“That individualism has made us lose that perspective to see
the others and share solidarity,” said Tello.

Odebrecht’s executives allegedly paid three former
presidents, namely Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan Garcia
(2006-2011), and Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) and several
ministers of Peru in exchange for business favors.

Toledo was accused of money laundering and influence
peddling, after he fled to the U.S. city of San Francisco.

According to the justice, he received 20 million U.S. dollars
as commission to help Odebrecht win contracts to build several
highways in Peru.

The Supreme Court has declared in his absence to impose 18
months of preventive imprisonment on him and mobilized Interpol
to put him to justice.

Public anger erupted on February 16, 2017, when more than
5,000 people took to the streets in Lima, demanding punishment
for corruption.

The protesters denounced graft as a tumor of the society,
which had impeded the country from further development.

Meanwhile, Peru has asked the United States to extradite
Toledo, but the request was turned down for lack of evidence.

The Public Ministry and the National Police raided his house
in Lima in February, trying to spot the much needed clues of his
alleged graft.

The government also offered 30,000 U.S. dollars as reward for
any information of Toledo’s whereabouts.

Toledo said in France in April that he was being politically
prosecuted.

There were signals that he may move to Israel, which is his
wife’s motherland.

Peru immediately contacted Israel, which said Toledo’s entry
would be refused.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman of Peru, there are
currently 32,925 cases of corruption at the national level, and
only 695 of them have been transferred to justice.

Up to 4 billion U.S. dollars was lost annually due to graft
in Peru.

A national poll said that 75 percent of the population
demanded that the crime be dealt with determination and
political will.

“If the government doesn’t denounce (corruption), if the
judiciary branch doesn’t sanction, impunity will be actually
generated and that is the worst,” said Tello.

“That is a citizen’s perception and for that reason the
crimes of corruption continue to be committed.”
.

SPAIN:

Thousands march against
corruption in Madrid

MADRID Spain (Xinhua) —
Thousands of Spanish people marched through the
center of the Spanish capital of Madrid on Saturday to protest
against the People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister,
Mariano Rajoy.

The march organized by the left wing party Unidos Podemos,
who on Friday presented a no-confidence vote against Rajoy in
the Spanish Congress, and other left wing organizations, under
the hashtag “#We have to kick them out”, following the
revelations of further corruption scandals involving the PP.

The alleged illegal financing of Rajoy’s party is already
under investigation in the trial surrounding the ongoing “Gurtel”
cash for favors scandal.

Meanwhile the arrest of former president of the Madrid
autonomous community Ignacio Gonzalez in April as part of
another scandal named “Operation Lezo” revealed further
corruption in the Madrid branch of the PP.

Podemos party Secretary Pablo Echenique claimed that not only
supporters of Unidos Podemos were present in Madrid, but also
“supporters of other parties”.

“We have to show that the people are more honest than those
in parliament. We have to show them (the PP) that their time is
over and the time of impunity has finished,” said Echenique.
.

Spanish PM asks to testify
by videoconference in corruption case: reports

MADRID Spain (Xinhua) —
Spanish Prime Minister has asked to be allowed to
make his testimony in the ongoing “Gurtel” corruption scandal by
videoconference on either July 26 or 27, the Spanish press
reported.

Rajoy has been called to appear as a witness in the trial,
which is investigating “cash-for-favors” deals involving
construction and event organization deals and which is linked to
the illegal financing of his right wing Peoples Party (PP).

The secretary general to the Prime Minister’s Office, Maria
Rosario Pablos, has written to the Spanish High Court signaling
the 26th and 27th of July as the “most appropriate dates”
bearing in mind the Prime Minister’s agenda.

Spanish law allows Rajoy to give his evidence by
videoconference rather than in person because of “reasons of
utility, security and public order,” The Prime Minister’s office
believes it is better for Rajoy to give his evidence over a TV
screen rather than in person in the courtroom in San Fernando de
Henares (on the outskirts of Madrid) as Rajoy’s travelling to
the courtroom would “imply an important displacement of public
resources.”

The news comes out on the same day that an investigation by
the Spanish Civil Guard into another corruption scandal known as
“Operation Punica” concluded that the Madrid branch of the PP
covered some of the expenses of Rajoy’s 2008 general election
campaign with public money through the production of false bills
for training courses which were never held.
.

Virtually all Spanish
parties to appeal against sentence in Noos corruption trial

MADRID Spain (Xinhua) —
Virtually all of the parties involved in the Noos
Corruption trial will appeal against the sentences which were
handed out on Feb. 17th, the Spanish press reported on Friday.

The deadline to appeal the sentences in the long running
corruption scandal, which has captured headlines in Spain for
over a year, expired at 3 pm on Friday.

The Noos trial saw the sister of King Felipe VI of Spain, the
Infanta Cristina de Borbon, sit among the accused and her
husband Inaki Urgangarin was sentenced to six years and three
months for various offences related to the siphoning off of
public funds, by the supposedly non-profit making Noos
Institute.

The sentences caused controversy when announced in Spain with
many commentators surprised by their lack of severity after a
trial in which only 7 of the 18 accused were found guilty and
only three of those (Urdangarin, his partner Diego Torres and
former President of the Balearic Islands, Jaume Matas) were
punished.

Spain’s Anti-Corruption Prosecution service and the lawyers
for the Balearic Islands will appeal in order to ask for tougher
sentences, while the Balearic Island government wants to try and
recover the money defrauded by the Noos Institute, a supposedly
non-profit organization run by Urdangarin and Torres.

Urdangarin, Torres and Mata, meanwhile, will appeal against
the length of the sentences, which were 6 years and three months
for Urdangarin, 8 years and 6 months for Torres, and 3 years and
8 months for Matas, while Urdangarin was also fined 512,553
euros (around 560,000 U.S. dollars.

Finally the right wing union ‘Manos Limpias’ which presented
a private prosecution against Infanta Cristiana will also appeal
against the decision to make them pay costs after the Infanta
was found not guilty of money laundering, although she was
ordered to pay 265,099 euros (283,728 dollars) after being found
to have benefitted from the fraud.
.

BRAZIL:

Brazil needs to walk out
of shadow cast by litany of corruption charges

by Xia Lin, Chen Weihua RIO DE
JANEIRO (Xinhua) —
Brazil’s
anti-corruption campaign, called “Cash War”, turned much
grimmer, as the Supreme Court initiated an investigation on
Thursday against President Michel Temer for “corruption and
obstruction of justice.”

Temer has refused to step down, saying the investigation
would show he has done nothing wrong and expressing confidence
in the country’s ongoing recovery from economic recession.

Brazilian experts said the country needs to walk out of the
shadow where the political parties accused each other for
corruption, and time and efforts should be spent to resume the
country’s previous economic glory.

On Thursday, Temer encountered another court probe over his
alleged arrangement for one of his acolytes to pay a jailed
politician hush money to buy his silence.

This is a severe escalation, where the incumbent head of
state is officially dragged into the swamp right after Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva, the two-term former president, was
questioned over “passive corruption” and “money laundering” on
May 10.

“It all starts with entrepreneurs bribing politicians in
order to win partiality when bidding for government projects.

“The embezzled dollars that politicians use for personal
spending actually stems from state companies, among them is
mainly Petrobras,” said Evandro Carvalho, international law
professor at think tank Fundacao Getulio Vargas.

Padded contracts from national entities like the country’s
state oil company Petrobras charged with tapping Brazil’s oil
and gas resources were awarded to Odebrecht, the infrastructure
giant in Brazil and Latin America, according to judicial
disclosures and media reports.

In return, as media reports quoted judicial sources and
Odebrecht executives as saying, the corporation had funneled 3.3
billion U.S. dollars to politicians between 2006 and 2014, or 80
percent of its net profits over the period.

“Car Wash reveals that all the political parties were
involved in graft, including the ruling parties,” said Carvalho.

Related scandals were basked in bunches and over 100 business
people and senior officials have been probed or arrested so far.

Temer himself and his government still appeared to be
confident, setting in an overall austerity program with reform
of labor law and pension system in efforts to beat the
two-year-long recession.

On Thursday in his televised speech, Temer insisted that
Brazil’s recession was coming to an end and “optimism is
returning.”

Brazil’s unemployment rate hit 13.7 percent in April and the
economic growth was widely projected at 0.5 percent for 2017
among various research institutions, though the first quarter
growth of GDP this year was declared as 1.12 percent, according
to official figures.

Meanwhile, the shadow projected by the anti-corruption
battles begins to loom large over the general election to be
held in October 2018.

Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, needs to walk
out of shadow of corruption, said Carvalho.

Time and efforts should be spent to resume the country’s
previous glory in the so-called Golden Decade (1980s-1990s) when
economic prosperity greatly enhanced living standards of the
people.
.

Bad news piles up for
Temer as ally leaves government

RIO DE JANEIRO Brazil (Xinhua) –
The Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) —
an ally of President Michel Temer—announced Saturday that it was
leaving the government led by Temer and is seeking his removal
from office.

The PSB will also seek a constitutional amendment to call for
direct elections if the presidency is vacated, instead of the
indirect elections in Congress currently mandated, according to
PSB president Carlos Siqueira.

“Today’s decision, first of all, is to suggest to the
president that, to help find a solution for our country, he
should quit as fast as possible,” commented Siqueira, adding
that the PSB would also support Temer’s impeachment.

He explained that Temer has lost the condition to govern the
country.

Whoever concludes the president does not have the condition
to lead a national project, de facto, enters the opposition.

The PSB’s announcement came after a recording was released
this week in which Temer seemingly endorses the bribing of
former speaker Eduardo Cunha in exchange for his silence.

Since the recording was revealed this week, the Temer
government has already lost two ministers.

Bruno Araujo, the minister of cities, distanced himself from
the scandal and resigned, while Roberto Freire, the minister of
culture, also quit, citing “the political instability generated
by facts that directly involve the presidency.”

The PSB currently holds one ministry, that of mines and
energy.

On Saturday, Temer said that the recording had been doctored
to harm him and asked the Supreme Court to drop the
investigation into him.

Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
(2003-2010), called Saturday for the resignation of Temer.

Lula promised he was “in the trenches” to demand Temer’s
resignation and to call for new elections, to allow the people
to elect their new leader.

“We want Temer to leave but we don’t want an indirectly
elected president,” he told supporters at Sao Bernardo do Campo,
near Sao Paulo.

This was his first public appearance since JBS owner, Joesley
Batista, told judicial investigators he paid Lula 80 million
U.S. dollars on foreign accounts, although the ex-president did
not address these claims.

Lula’s concern about direct elections stems from the fact
that, if Temer resigns or is impeached, his successor will be
elected by parliament.

While Lula is the favorite to win next year’s presidential
elections in 2018 according to opinion polls, he is facing five
different court cases, which could declare him ineligible to
run.

“I had never thought I would be a candidate again.

“Now, with this provocation, with this amount of accusations,
with things being invented every week, I want to contest the
elections,” he said.

Lula added, his Workers’ Party (PT) had learned over its 12
years in power (2003-2016) how to fight corruption, as nobody
created more mechanisms than the PT.
.

Brazilian President
refuses to resign despite corruption allegations

BRASILIA Brazil (Xinhua) —
Brazilian President Michel Temer refused to
resign on Thursday despite being implicated in corruption
allegations.

In an address to the nation on Thursday afternoon, Temer
said, “I will not resign, I repeat, I will not resign.”

He also demanded “a full and very rapid investigation for the
… Brazilian people.”

Local newspaper reported on Wednesday that a leading
meatpacking company chairman had recorded his conversation with
Temer and turned the recordings over to the Supreme Court.

In the recordings, Temer reportedly endorsed the bribing of
former Chamber of Deputies speaker Eduardo Cunha in exchange for
Cunha’s silence.

“In the Supreme Court, I will show that I had no involvement
with these events.

“I will not resign.

“I know what I have done and I know the correctness of my
actions,” the president stressed.

Despite these revelations, Temer stated on Thursday that he
did not know the contents of the recording, and added that he
had officially asked the Supreme Court for access to these
documents.

He concluded by demanding a full and rapid investigation by
the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, Edson Fachin, the Supreme Court Justice in
charge of the Petrobras corruption investigation, ordered a
probe into Temer.

Despite this defiant stance, the impact of this political
crisis on Brazil was felt immediately.

The Brazilian stock market tumbled by 10 percent overall, and
stocks fell sharply for the country’s leading companies, such as
Petrobras and Banco do Brasil.

After the news broke on Wednesday evening, opponents
immediately called for Temer’s resignation or impeachment.
Meanwhile, thousands of Brazilians turned out in Sao Paulo to
demand the president’s resignation, shouting “Fora Temer” (Temer
Out).

By Thursday afternoon, four different impeachment cases had
been filed, three in the Chamber of Deputies and one in the
Senate.
.

NIGERIA:

UN agency urges
international support for Nigeria anti-corruption fight

ABUJA Nigeria (Xinhua) —
An agency of the United Nations on
Wednesday urged Nigeria to seek international support in its
fight against corruption.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Abuja
said although Nigeria has so far done well in its
anti-corruption campaign, the west African country must realize
that the fight against corruption takes a lot of efforts as it
is not a fight that can be fought and won in one day.

“The fight also needs collaboration and joint efforts both
nationally and internationally because no country can do it
alone,” said Jennifer Bradford, justice officer of the UNODC in
Nigeria.

The UN official added it was only with continuous efforts and
determination that the fight could be won.

The most populous African nation has so far dealt with
endemic corruption, especially in government circles, using
preventive measures and asset recovery as key areas of focus,
among other measures taken.

The Nigerian government has promised more efforts toward
strengthening the whistle blowing policy in the country, saying
this has hugely contributed to the breakthrough recorded in the
war against corruption and unaccounted wealth.

Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami said the government is
ensuring that various policies that were put in place to fight
corruption bring back sanity in every sector.
.

Nigeria works to
strengthen anti-corruption campaign and end tax fraud:
official

ABUJA Nigeria (Xinhua) —
Nigeria is working to strengthen its
anti-corruption campaign by beaming the searchlight on every
sector of the economy, the country’s anti-graft agency chief
Ibrahim Magu said on Thursday.

The campaign will also address the numerous tax frauds across
the country, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,
the anti-graft agency, has begun to go tough on tax evaders,
Magu told reporters in Abuja.

The official said the right mechanism has been put in place
to bring tax evaders to book, noting tax avoidance and evasion
has been identified as one of the greatest and longstanding
problems plaguing tax administration in Nigeria.

The searchlight on tax evaders is done in collaboration with
Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) which is
responsible for the collection of tax throughout the west
African country.

“We are going to see that we work on this seriously,” Magu
said.

He added the anti-corruption campaign will be extended to
universities across the country, to sensitize students on the
need not to be caught in the web of corruption.
.

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