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Showing posts for "Sub-Saharan Africa"

This Week in Markets and Democracy: Deadly Kenyan Protests, Vietnam’s Labor Rights, Still No Haiti Election

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A riot policeman fires a teargas canister to disperse supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) during a protest at the premises hosting the headquarters of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to demand the disbandment of the electoral body ahead of next year's election in Nairobi, Kenya, May 23, 2016 (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya). A riot policeman fires a teargas canister to disperse supporters of Kenya's opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) during a protest at the premises hosting the headquarters of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to demand the disbandment of the electoral body ahead of next year's election in Nairobi, Kenya, May 23, 2016 (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya).

Electoral Violence Starts Early in Kenya
In Kenya, police cracked down on opposition protests, killing three and injuring more. With elections still more than a year away, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) party is demanding that current electoral officials resign for corruption and bias toward President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee coalition. In the wake of the bloodshed CORD halted the demonstrations and agreed to negotiations, responding to other governments’ calls for dialogue. But given Kenya’s history of electoral violence and impunity, many expect clashes to continue.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: UK Anticorruption Summit

by Shannon K. O'Neil
British Prime Minister Cameron is joined by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, (left) Sarah Chayes, a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program, (second left) US Secretary of State John Kerry, (third from left) and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, (right), as he opens the international anti-corruption summit on May 12, 2016 in London, England. Leaders from many of the worlds nations are gathering in London for the summit, which is aimed at stepping up action to tackle the problem of corruption (Reuters/Dan Kitwood/Pool). British Prime Minister Cameron is joined by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, (left) Sarah Chayes, a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program, (second left) US Secretary of State John Kerry, (third from left) and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, (right), as he opens the international anti-corruption summit on May 12, 2016 in London, England. Leaders from many of the worlds nations are gathering in London for the summit, which is aimed at stepping up action to tackle the problem of corruption (Reuters/Dan Kitwood/Pool).

British Prime Minister David Cameron gathered government officials, civil society advocates, and business leaders in London for a one-day summit on corruption, a global “cancer” hindering economic development and growth. Forty countries signed a Global Declaration Against Corruption, promising to prevent, uncover, and punish corruption “wherever it exists.” Many countries followed up the lofty rhetoric with concrete commitments: twenty-one pledged stronger legislation for returning stolen assets, fourteen will open public contracts to scrutiny for the first time, and the UK and five other countries will jointly launch a new anticorruption center to help investigate and prosecute cross-border cases.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Honduras’ Anticorruption Fight, Freedom House Report, Conflict Minerals Setback

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads "Out JOH", in a reference to Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez, during a march to demand the resignation of Hernandez in Tegucigalpa, August 21, 2015. Thousands of protesters have been continuing demonstrations in Tegucigalpa, calling for the resignation of Hernandez over a $200 million corruption scandal at the Honduran Institute of Social Security (Reuters/Jorge Cabrera). A demonstrator holds a sign that reads "Out JOH", in a reference to Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez, during a march to demand the resignation of Hernandez in Tegucigalpa, August 21, 2015. Thousands of protesters have been continuing demonstrations in Tegucigalpa, calling for the resignation of Hernandez over a $200 million corruption scandal at the Honduran Institute of Social Security (Reuters/Jorge Cabrera).

Honduras’ New Anticorruption Fighter Takes on the President
Last summer allegations that Honduran officials stole more than $200 million dollars from the social security system led to widespread public protests and calls for President Juan Orlando Hernández’s resignation. The scandal spurred the creation of the Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), an anticorruption body backed by the Organization of American States (OAS) and modeled after the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Now active, MACCIH officials say they will investigate the case. Given MACCIH’s more limited prosecutorial autonomy and much smaller budget, many wonder if it can match the impressive results of its Guatemalan counterpart, which—working with the attorney general—brought down former president Otto Pérez Molina.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Panama Papers, Curbing Tax Evasion, U.S. Cuts Tanzania Aid

by Shannon K. O'Neil
People demonstrate against Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 4, 2016 after a leak of documents by so-called Panama Papers stoked anger over his wife owning a tax haven-based company with large claims on the country's collapsed banks (Reuters/Stigtryggur Johannsson). People demonstrate against Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 4, 2016 after a leak of documents by so-called Panama Papers stoked anger over his wife owning a tax haven-based company with large claims on the country's collapsed banks (Reuters/Stigtryggur Johannsson).

Panama Papers Expose Weak Regulations
The “Panama Papers” are an unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files revealing a complex global network of hidden wealth. For four decades, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca helped to set up over 200,000 shell companiesa favored tool for laundering money, stashing ill-gotten resources, and evading taxes—for tens of thousands of clients in over fifty countries, with current and former heads of state among the 143 politicians and cronies named. So far the revelations have forced Iceland’s prime minister and the president of Transparency International’s Chile branch to resign, and upped support for a Brexit given British Prime Minister David Cameron’s involvement. The Panama Papers further expose weaknesses in global financial regulation. More than half of the leaked shell companies are based in UK  territories100,000 in the British Virgin Islands alone—where Cameron has tried to end such anonymity by legally mandating a public registry of companies’ owners. European banks HSBC, Credit Suisse, and UBS are among the ten institutions that worked most frequently with the Panamanian firm to create offshore accounts for clients. Since the leak, countries including the United States and Germany have proposed new legislation to increase transparency around offshore companies.

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CSMD Spring Break Reading List

by Shannon K. O'Neil
People walk on the rock at the Trou aux Biches beach on the Indian Ocean island Mauritius (Reuters/Jacky Naegelen). People walk on the rock at the Trou aux Biches beach on the Indian Ocean island Mauritius (Reuters/Jacky Naegelen).

As Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) heads into spring break, here is what we will be reading.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Nike’s Bribes in Kenya, Elections in Benin and Niger, and Women’s Anticorruption Role

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A policeman is seen outside the gates of Riadha House the Athletic Kenya (AK) Headquarters during a protest in capital Nairobi November 23, 2015. Dozens of Kenyan athletes stormed the athletics federation headquarters in Nairobi on Monday, locking out officials and demanding that top Athletics Kenya (AK) bosses step down following allegations of graft and doping cover-ups (Reuters/Noor Khamis). A policeman is seen outside the gates of Riadha House the Athletic Kenya (AK) Headquarters during a protest in capital Nairobi November 23, 2015. Dozens of Kenyan athletes stormed the athletics federation headquarters in Nairobi on Monday, locking out officials and demanding that top Athletics Kenya (AK) bosses step down following allegations of graft and doping cover-ups (Reuters/Noor Khamis).

Nike Bribes, Will the United States Prosecute?
Bank records and emails show Nike paid a $500,000 “commitment bonus” to Kenya’s athletics federation, and hundreds of thousands more in “honoraria.” Though allegedly to support poor runners, Kenyan prosecutors say athletics officials quickly transferred the money to their personal bank accounts. Yet the United States cannot use the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) against the mega brand. The law only covers U.S. companies that bribe “foreign officials” and “public international organizations.” Sports associations are private, so outside the FCPA’s jurisdiction. In taking on FIFA, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) worked around the FCPA, indicting foreign and U.S. officials for laundering money through U.S. banks, not bribery. The United States may need to do the same in the Nike case if it wants to follow up on President Obama’s pointed criticisms of Kenyan corruption with legal actions.

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Cleaning Up Global Supply Chains

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Workers are seen inside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in the southern Guangdong province May 26, 2010. A spate of nine employee deaths at global contract electronics manufacturer Foxconn, Apple's main supplier of iPhones, has cast a spotlight on some of the harsher aspects of blue-collar life on the Chinese factory floor (Reuters/Bobby Yip). Workers are seen inside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in the southern Guangdong province May 26, 2010. A spate of nine employee deaths at global contract electronics manufacturer Foxconn, Apple's main supplier of iPhones, has cast a spotlight on some of the harsher aspects of blue-collar life on the Chinese factory floor (Reuters/Bobby Yip).

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act now requires companies to report efforts to prevent human trafficking and slavery in the making of every part and every process of production, from headquarters down to individual suppliers along production chains. In the United States, the Dodd Frank Act’s disclosure rules for conflict minerals hold mining and technology companies to similar standards. But surveys and reports show companies still fail to monitor their suppliers, let alone prevent abuses.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Malaysia’s Corruption Probes, Ghost Workers, and Lax OECD Bribery Laws

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 26, 2016. Malaysia's attorney-general said on Tuesday that $681 million transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia and there were no criminal offences or corruption involved (Reuters/Olivia Harris). Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 26, 2016. Malaysia's attorney-general said on Tuesday that $681 million transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia and there were no criminal offences or corruption involved (Reuters/Olivia Harris).

International Investigations Take Over as Domestic Malaysian Justice Fails
New evidence shows that transfers from troubled state investment fund 1MDB into Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts may top $1 billion—$300 million higher than previously thought. Yet Malaysian authorities continue to clear him of wrongdoing. The attorney general’s office ended its case, saying it found no evidence of graft, and Parliament is delaying a long-awaited investigatory report on the fund. The government has also shut down a Malaysian news site reporting on corruption and threatened harsh punishments for journalists who leak “official secrets”—a thinly-veiled warning to would-be whistleblowers. Less politically malleable are international authorities who continue to probe the cross-border case. Singapore recently seized a “large number” of related bank accounts. Criminal proceedings in Switzerland allege misappropriation of up to $4 billion in state money. And in the United States, the Department of Justice opened an inquiry into Najib’s U.S. real estate holdings and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the 1MDB case itself. Najib maintains the money was a political donation from an unnamed Saudi royal, a claim that conflicts with the growing financial paper trail.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: India’s Growth, U.S. Development Seeks Private Investment, and Ugandan Elections

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Workers erect scaffolding at the construction site of a metro station in Greater Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, September 30, 2015. India's annual infrastructure output growth picked up in August to 2.6 percent from a year ago, mainly driven by higher cement and electricity generation, government data showed on Wednesday (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee). Workers erect scaffolding at the construction site of a metro station in Greater Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, September 30, 2015. India's annual infrastructure output growth picked up in August to 2.6 percent from a year ago, mainly driven by higher cement and electricity generation, government data showed on Wednesday (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee).

Can India Avoid Emerging Market Slump?
India outpaced China as the world’s fastest growing economy in 2015, with gross domestic product (GDP) rising 7.5 percent. Consumption by the nation’s 1.3 billion citizens drove the gains, along with public infrastructure spending to upgrade the nation’s roads, railways, ports, and power grids. India’s government is on track to spend over a trillion dollars on infrastructure as part of a 2012-2017 five year plan, as one of the emerging markets able to borrow at low international rates (debt to GDP is for now a manageable 50 percent). Yet private sector investment hasn’t followed suit. Bureaucratic difficulties in acquiring land and permits and financing snafus show how difficult it is to do business – India is ranked 130 of 189 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report. A tough external environment led to a decline in exports and an outflow of portfolio investments. To attract the private investment needed for long term growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to tackle issues including labor regulations, taxes, and onerous import and export documentation.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Moldova’s Protests, Investors Take on Graft, Corruption’s Costs in Nigeria

by Shannon K. O'Neil
People hold a protest in front of the parliament building in Chisinau, Moldova, January 21, 2016. At least 8,000 people protested in the Moldovan capital on Thursday against the appointment of Prime Minister Pavel Filip, whose hasty swearing-in ceremony at midnight also prompted a government spokesman to resign (Reuters/Viktor Dimitrov). People hold a protest in front of the parliament building in Chisinau, Moldova, January 21, 2016. At least 8,000 people protested in the Moldovan capital on Thursday against the appointment of Prime Minister Pavel Filip, whose hasty swearing-in ceremony at midnight also prompted a government spokesman to resign (Reuters/Viktor Dimitrov).

Moldova’s Corruption Undermines EU Bid
Moldova’s corruption continues despite deepening European Union (EU) ties. New Prime Minister Pavel Filip’s pro-EU party is linked to a $1 billion bank embezzlement scheme that saw nearly 13 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) disappear. Two former prime ministers fell in the scandal, one to a no confidence vote while another is in jail. Now, despite government rhetoric accepting the EU Association Agreement governance statutes and promising to stamp out corruption, protesters are calling for Filip’s resignation. It is unlikely that Moldova will move beyond EU “partner” status anytime soon.

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