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Showing posts for "Sub-Saharan Africa"

This Week in Markets and Democracy: Zuma’s Corruption Woes, DRC Sanctions, Afrobarometer Report

by Shannon K. O'Neil
DATE IMPORTED:November 02, 2016Protestors call for the removal of President Jacob Zuma outside court in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2016 (Reuters/Mike Hutchings). DATE IMPORTED:November 02, 2016Protestors call for the removal of President Jacob Zuma outside court in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2016 (Reuters/Mike Hutchings).

Report May Bring Down South Africa’s President
New allegations may finally bring down teflon president Jacob Zuma. Despite his earlier legal protests, South Africa’s public protector’s office released a report suggesting that a wealthy family close to the president influenced government hires and used their ties to promote their private interests. It recommends opening a criminal investigation, a prelude to impeachment proceedings. While the African National Congress (ANC) party backed Zuma during a previous impeachment vote over the use of $16 million in state funds to renovate his private home, these new allegations are hurting him within his party. Already Zuma faces a no-confidence vote in parliament next week, and some ANC members are joining religious leaders, thousands of protestors, and forty South African CEOs in calling for his resignation.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Embraer Corruption Case, UK Anti-Slavery Law Neglected, Rule of Law Index

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's CEO Frederico Curado (R) salutes workers next to an new Embraer E190-E2 during its unveil in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, February 25, 2016. Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA is in early talks with Iran, with a focus on commercial aviation, following the end of international sanctions, Chief Executive Curado told journalists on Thursday (Reuters/Nacho Doce). Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's CEO Frederico Curado (R) salutes workers next to an new Embraer E190-E2 during its unveil in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, February 25, 2016. Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA is in early talks with Iran, with a focus on commercial aviation, following the end of international sanctions, Chief Executive Curado told journalists on Thursday (Reuters/Nacho Doce).

Brazil’s Plane Maker Fined in Bribery Case Spanning Five Continents
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer will pay $205 million to U.S. authorities, including $20 million for Brazil, for bribing officials in Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and the Dominican Republic. U.S. prosecutors worked with their law enforcement counterparts around the world—including Brazil, Switzerland, Uruguay, France, and Spain—to bring the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case (Embraer is a U.S.-listed company). The legal cooperation has gone both ways, as U.S.-gathered evidence has spurred additional investigations by Brazilian and Saudi authorities; thirteen employees were charged with bribery. Now India is looking into kickbacks from Embraer’s air force contracts. Expect more cross-border cooperation in global corruption cases.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: BRICS Fund Infrastructure, France’s Corruption Trial, UK Takes on Kleptocrats

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Brazil's President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma pose for a group picture during BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Benaulim, in the western state of Goa, India, October 16, 2016 (Reuters/Danish Siddiqui). Brazil's President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma pose for a group picture during BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Benaulim, in the western state of Goa, India, October 16, 2016 (Reuters/Danish Siddiqui).

BRICS Fund Infrastructure
As commodity prices have plunged, global growth slowed, and geopolitical competition risen, the BRICS’ interests have diverged, making annual meetings of the five emerging economies more complicated. Last weekend’s get-together in Goa, India focused mostly on counterterrorism and the New Development Bank (NBD), a two-year old alternative to the World Bank and other Western-dominated institutions. Its focus is green and sustainable infrastructure, seeded with $100 billion in capital. At the BRICS Summit, leaders celebrated the NBD’s first $900 million in loans for renewable energy projects in Brazil, China, India, and South Africa, and promised to expand the banks portfolio tenfold by 2020. The NBD joins the new Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which promises a similar capital base for a more traditional infrastructure-based projects. Together they could rival the World Bank’s lending power.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Violent Kleptocracies, Ethiopia’s Unrest

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri). Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri).

Fighting the Worst Kleptocracies
Worse than kleptocracies are violent kleptocracies, as defined in a new report by advocacy group The Enough Project. In these, leaders run the state as a predatory criminal enterprise, looting the treasury and using virtually all means of government power—the judicial system, military, and security forces—to intimidate, jail, and eliminate any opposition. With near unquestioned power, this all happens with impunity. South Sudan is a classic example—its leaders making millions off of a brutal civil war they fueled. Existing anticorruption tools and agreements—the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the UN Convention Against Corruption among them—do little to change this deadly status quo, according the report. Instead, it says the United States should crack down on these corrupt leaders—taking away their visas, imposing sanctions, seizing ill-gotten assets that come through the U.S. banking system, and using evidence from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations to help go after not only the companies that pay bribes, but the officials who take them.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: EU Investigates Panama Papers, Airbus Subsidy Ruling, Och-Ziff Bribery Settlement

by Shannon K. O'Neil
An Airbus A380 performs during a flying display at the 47th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 21, 2007 (Reuters/Pascal Rossigno). An Airbus A380 performs during a flying display at the 47th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 21, 2007 (Reuters/Pascal Rossigno).

The EU Investigates the Panama Papers
Six months after the first Panama Papers leak, revelations about the global shell company business continue. The latest tranche of documents from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) detail over 175,000 Bahamian companies, many linked to European Union (EU) politicians. Having just opened a Panama Papers-inspired inquiry into whether the European Commission or European governments were applying their own laws on tax-avoidance and financial transparency, the new data illuminates potential test cases—including the former EU commissioner for competition policy and current UK home secretary. Reporters and the named politicians will be asked to speak at upcoming hearings that could lead to reforms.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: FIFA Investigations, Corruption in Romania and the Maldives, New South Sudan Report

by Shannon K. O'Neil
British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at FIFA President Sepp Blatter as he arrives for a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2015. World football's troubled governing body FIFA will vote for a new president, to replace Sepp Blatter, at a special congress to be held on February 26 in Zurich, the organisation said on Monday (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann). British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at FIFA President Sepp Blatter as he arrives for a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland July 20, 2015. World football's troubled governing body FIFA will vote for a new president, to replace Sepp Blatter, at a special congress to be held on February 26 in Zurich, the organisation said on Monday (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann).

FIFA Investigates Its Own Corruption
A year after the United States and Switzerland went after top FIFA officials on fraud, money laundering, and racketeering charges tied to a $150 million corruption scheme, soccer’s international governing body is taking actions itself. The federation fined former vice president Jeffrey Webb $1 million for accepting bribes and banned him for life from the sport. It also opened an investigation on former President Sepp Blatter and two top associates for bribery, corruption, and conflicts of interest, including adding several illegal provisions to their contracts—boosting their combined salaries to over $80 million, and guaranteeing them eight years of pay even if fired for just cause. FIFA’s new dynamism may begin to restore its tarnished reputation, and the information it uncovers could help U.S. and Swiss prosecutors with their own ongoing criminal cases.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: New Panama Papers, 1MDB Scandal Developments, Turkey Targets Press

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016 (Reuters/Umit Bektas). Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016 (Reuters/Umit Bektas).

New Panama Papers Expose Africa’s Offshore Dealings
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a second round of Panama Papers. The documents reveal how private firms, business executives, and corrupt officials in fifty-two of Africa’s fifty-four nations hired Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up shell companies—many to avoid taxes and hide bribes. Some 1,400 anonymous companies had links to African oil, gas, and mining businesses, facilitating the more than $50 billion in illicit financial outflows from the continent each year. The new releases should give authorities evidence to go after assets at home and abroad—where billions in corruption proceeds are stashed.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Mexico’s Anticorruption Reforms, South Africa’s Anticorruption Setbacks, Venezuela’s Slow-Motion Coup

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) speaks, while Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez stands next to him, during a ceremony commemorating the 200th death anniversary of South American independence hero Francisco de Miranda in Caracas, Venezuela July 14, 2016 (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins). Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) speaks, while Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez stands next to him, during a ceremony commemorating the 200th death anniversary of South American independence hero Francisco de Miranda in Caracas, Venezuela July 14, 2016 (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

Mexico’s New Anticorruption Tools
President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law long-awaited rules to step up Mexico’s fight against corruption. He had to veto an earlier version that would have forced private firms that receive government money to reveal their income and assets. The new measures mandate that all public servants disclose their assets, income, and tax returns. They also set up an independent prosecutor’s office and up the punishments for bribery, embezzlement, and influence peddling. While some civil society groups had hoped for more, the new anticorruption system provides new and stronger tools for those eager to take on bad behavior.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: U.S. Hunts Stolen Uzbek Assets, Bribery Still Pays, Uganda’s Democracy Backtracks

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A man passes by a poster of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and a poster of opposition leader Kizza Besigye in town of Kaabong in Karamoja region, Uganda, February 17, 2016 (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic). A man passes by a poster of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and a poster of opposition leader Kizza Besigye in town of Kaabong in Karamoja region, Uganda, February 17, 2016 (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic).

United States Hunts Stolen Uzbek Assets
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is having a hard time collecting foreign officials’ ill-gotten gains. After finding evidence of bribery, the DOJ still needs to physically seize assets. The latest setback comes in the case against the Uzbek president’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova, for accepting bribes from Russian telecoms company VimpelCom. In the current round the DOJ and Uzbekistan are vying for some $114 million stashed in Karimova’s Irish bank accounts. This is just a small part of the $850 million the DOJ believes Karimova hid in accounts across Belgium, Luxembourg, and Ireland. If they get the money the Uzbek government, led by Karimova’s father, is already demanding its “rightful” return to Uzbekistan, the “victim” of corruption.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Labor Rights in Supply Chains, Bank Secrecy Act, and the Kimberley Process

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A man displays a rough diamond, from the Boda region, for sale in Bangui May 1, 2014. Despite a 2013 ban on diamond exports by The Kimberley Process, a global watchdog set up to stop the trade in "blood diamonds", rough diamonds are still commonly offered for sale in Central African Republic (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun). A man displays a rough diamond, from the Boda region, for sale in Bangui May 1, 2014. Despite a 2013 ban on diamond exports by The Kimberley Process, a global watchdog set up to stop the trade in "blood diamonds", rough diamonds are still commonly offered for sale in Central African Republic (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun).

Supply Chains Take Center Stage at International Labor Conference
Of the $26 trillion in commerce flowing around the world, over 70 percent are intermediate goods. This reflects the rise of global supply chains. The International Labor Organization (ILO) conference put this dominant means of production on the agenda for the first time this year, addressing working conditions for those within these chains. Government and business leaders from the ILO’s 187 member countries spent the past two weeks debating whether to set official standards to push companies like Walmart, Gap, and Nestlé to address labor violations along their transnational production chains. Though any new rules would be non-binding, historically ILO standards have prompted legislation.

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