CHINA

CHINA VOWS TO EXPAND ITS BRIBERY BLACKLIST DATABASE SERVICES

The Supreme People's Procuratorate (the "SPP"), China's highest government prosecuting agency, announced that it will continue developing the services available on its bribery database.    Launched in February 2012, the database centralizes the names of all the companies and individuals who have been convicted of bribery-related offences in China.  The service allows for anyone to submit to People's Procuratorate an inquiry to verify whether a certain company or individual has previously been convicted of a bribery offence.  Companies or individuals who are listed will likely be disqualified for bidding on government projects or prohibited from operating in China.  The SPP has indicated that it intends to improve and expand its services to make public inquiries more convenient by streamlining the inquiries received, expanding the use of the blacklist system within the central government, and launching a job-related criminal record archive. 

TWO SENIOR MANAGERS PLACED UNDER INVESTIGATION

In the latest rounds of anti-graft investigations conducted by the Chinese government, two senior managers of a regional oilfield of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), An Wenhuam, vice-general manager of the Tarim oilfield, and Jia Dong, the oilfield's chief accountant, have both been allegedly placed under investigation.  These investigations follow the formal charges brought against Wang Yongchun, CNPC's former deputy general manager for bribery and abuse of power amongst others.

CHINA'S FORMER CHIEF OF SECURITY CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION AND LEAKING STATE SECRETS IN OPEN TRIAL

In February, China announced that it will be holding open trials for some of its former high ranking officials accused of being involved in acts of corruption.  Since then, the Supreme People's Procuratorate has formally charged Zhou Yongkang, China's former head of security, with taking bribes, abuse of power and intentionally leaking state secrets.  The maximum penalty for taking bribes is death, however the Court may decide to give Zhou a suspended death sentence or life imprisonment.  The Court has not yet set a trial date.  It is expected that around 28 high-ranking officials will stand in the open trial in the following year or so. 

CHINA SEEKS US ASSISTANCE IN LOCATING CHINESE OFFICIALS SUSPECTED OF CORRUPTION

China has requested the U.S. to assist in locating Chinese officials suspected to have fled to the U.S. amidst the Chinese government's anticorruption campaign.  The U.S. State Department has confirmed that it has received lists of suspects and has requested that the Chinese government continues to provide further evidence to assist the government's relevant agencies to investigate the cases of alleged corruption.  Last week, the U.S. officials arrested the former wife of a Chinese official on charges of having fraudulently obtained visas and being involved in money laundering schemes.  Although the U.S. does not currently have an extradition treaty with China, it has indicated that it can still assist in returning fugitives to China. 

CONTINUOUS SCRUTINY OF FINANCIAL SECTOR

The past month provided further evidence of China's investigations broadening out to the financial sector, including senior bank officials. Kun Yang, the former vice president of Agricultural Bank of China was sentenced by a Chinese court to life in prison together with all his personal property ordered to be confiscated for accepting bribes of more than US $4.8million. According to a statement of the court, between 2005 and 2012, Mr Yang used his positions of power, including authority over loan approvals, grant, repayment and management and IT business cooperation, to take bribes in cash, gold bars, rosewood furniture and paintings. Separately, the president and party secretary of China Minsheng Banking Corp, Xiaofeng Mao, has resigned after being reported by media that he was taken away by the party's anti-corruption watchdog, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection ("CCDI"), to assist with an investigation and removed as party secretary by the banking regulator. In addition, board member of Bank of Beijing Co Ltd, Haijun Lu, who is the former chairman of one of the bank's shareholders, is under investigation by the CCDI for serious disciplinary violations.

STATE ENERGY COMPANIES ACCUSED OF SERIOUS VIOLATIONS

The CCDI's investigations into two big state-owned energy companies have uncovered serious violations. According to the CCDI, among others, some officials at China Shenhua Group, a major coal producer, took bribes and manipulated coal prices for personal benefit. Separately, during the inspection of China Huadian Corporation, the CCDI found serious violations of the power group in takeovers of coal mines and appointment of officials.

CHINA EXPANDS ANTI-CORRUPTION INVESTIGATIONS OF STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES

Further to a series of investigations/inspections into state-owned enterprises last year, the party's anti-graft inspection teams will be sent to 72 major state-run enterprises (SOEs) in 2015, including 19 in the financial and rail sectors, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Energy and power companies account for half of the 26 SOEs targeted in the first round of this year's inspections.

STRENGTHENING THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

According to Xinhua news agency, China will strengthen its anti-corruption campaign in the film and television industry this year. A member of the CCDI, the head of the CCDI's disciplinary inspection team stationed at the central level entertainment industry regulator, mentioned a few areas as most open to corruption, which include dealing with censorship, the purchase of TV series and films from production companies, procurement of equipment, advertising, grand gala events, news reporting and overseas branches.

FORMER VICE CHAIRMAN OF CHINA'S TOP POLITICAL ADVISORY BODY NOW UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Rong Su, former vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, who had been under the party's internal investigation since June 2014 was expelled from the Communist Party of China and dismissed from public office for accepting bribes and abuse of power in selection of officials and enterprise management. Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's top prosecutor, has initiated criminal investigation against him over the bribery allegations.

CHINA RELEASED A WORK PLAN FOR INSPECTING LARGE HOSPITALS

China's National Health and Family Planning Commission released the Work Plan on Inspection of Large Hospitals for the time frame 2015-2017. According to the work plan, among others, the inspections of large hospitals in China over the next three years will focus on enhancing anti-corruption compliance programs and internal control, combatting commercial bribery in connection with sale and purchase of medicines, implementation of the Code of Conduct for Medical Institution Practitioners, implementation of the Nine Prohibitions in respect of areas including procurement and promotion of medical products, and acceptance of commissions, kickbacks and cash gifts.

INDIA

INDIA INTENDS TO CRIMINALIZE BRIBERY IN PRIVATE SECTOR

The Indian government is currently considering a bill seeking to criminalize acts of bribery in the private sector.  The initiative comes in a dual effort first, to comply fully with the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), and second, to fill the gaps in the Prevention of Corruption Act (the "PCA").   If passed, the bill will amend the Indian Penal Code to specifically address corruption within the private sector and criminalize acts of bribery to foreign public officials.

NGOS UNDER SCRUTINY FOR FUNDS RECEIVED OVERSEAS

Indian government is reportedly reviewing foreign funds transferred to Non-Governmental Organisations for obscure purposes and preparing a list of NGOs that may be involved in questionable activities including money laundering and terrorism financing.

INDIAN COURT SUMMONED FORMER PREMIER IN COAL CORRUPTION SCANDAL

An Indian court has summoned Manmohan Singh, India's former prime minister, as one of the accused in an investigation into the illegal allocation of coal fields.  Last year, the Supreme Court cancelled more than 200 coal mining licenses after it had found that the licenses had been sold to various private and government companies at artificially low prices.  Mr Singh is being investigated for his alleged involvement in the coal field In Orissa allocated to Hindalco Industries in 2005. At that time, Mr Singh was in charge of the Coal Ministry.  Both Hindalco Industries and Mr Singh have denied any wrongdoings and are confident that their innocence will be proven.

INDONESIA

BUSINESSMAN IS SENTENCED TO A THREE-YEAR JAIL TERM FOR BRIBING A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL

The Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced Gulat Manurang,  the chairman of the Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers Association (Apkasindo) Riau Chapter, to a three-year prison sentence and a fine of Rp 100 million (US$ 7,700) for bribing Governor Annas Mamun to obtain a land-conversion permit in the province.  The Court found that Gulat had paid the government official US$ 166,100 for his service to obtain a land conversion permit for two plots, totalling more than 2,200 hectares of land, belonging to Gulat and his friends.  By doing so, the judge stated that the palm oil businessman violated Article 5 of the 1999 Corruption Law, which prohibits giving or promising something to a public servant with the intent for such public servant to commit or refrain from committing something that contradicts his duties.  This is the third consecutive Riau governor to be implicated in a graft case. The previous two governors, Rusli Zainal and Saleh Djasit have been sentenced for ten years and four years respectively in two separate graft cases.

PROBLEMS FOR THE KPK

Two senior officers at the country's anti-corruption agency, KPK, have been named by Indonesian police as suspects in two criminal cases. Indonesian police have named the head of the KPK, Abraham Samad, a suspect for allegedly falsifying documents in their ongoing investigation, and the deputy chief of KPK a suspect in another case. President Widodo has suspended Mr Samad and the deputy chief at the KPK. The moves against the KPK are widely seen as retaliation for the agency's decision earlier this year to name police general nominee Budi Gunawan as a suspect in a bribery case. This has drawn criticism that the police are trying to hinder cracking down on corruption in Indonesia and prompted street demonstrations in Jakarta.

SUPPLY OF MEDICAL EQUIPMENT TO UDAYANA UNIVERSITY UNDER CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION

The director of PT Mahkota Negara, Marisi Matondang, was suspected to have had cooperated with Udayana University’s finance and general affairs division head, another suspect in the case, to win a contract for the company to supply medical equipment worth IDR 16bn (USD 1.2m) to the university’s hospital in Bali. It is reported that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has detained the two suspects for alleged violation of Indonesia's anti-corruption law and criminal law.

MALAYSIA

FORMER MANAGER OF PETRONAS JAILED FOR 10 YEARS FOR ACCEPTING BRIBES

A former manager of Malaysian state-owned oil and gas company Petronas, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined RM2.012 million (US $569,197) on four counts of bribe taking totalling RM403,000 (US $114,009). Idris M. Shuhud, was found to have purchased and renovated his house with the bribes he received from director of Penaga Orbit and Genius Response in exchange for approving Technical Bids Evaluation, Commercial Bids Evaluation and Services Completion Certificates. He was also found guilty of four counts of money laundering totalling RM384,500.

SINGAPORE

FORMER SALES EXECUTIVE SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS OF PRISON FOR CORRUPTION IN TOURIST REFUND FRAUD

Lim Pheck An, a former sales executive, was jailed for two years and ordered to pay around SG$ 28,000 (around $US 21,000) for accepting bribes in a tax evasion scheme.  As a sales executive, he assisted two Indian nationals in preparing documents falsely declaring that they had purchased jewellery so that they could apply for tax refunds under Singapore's electronic Tourist Refund Scheme.  The investigations reveal that in Lim accepted bottles of DOM liquor and cash in exchange for his service.

HIGH COURT INCREASES AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN'S PRISON SENTENCE FOR CORRUPTION

The High Court of Singapore increased the prison sentence of a former director of a software electronic company from an eight-week to a twelve-week term.  The sentence comes after the defendant, Mark Edward Tjong, an American citizen residing in Singapore, filed an appeal against a conviction for bribery and the Public Prosecution filed an appeal against an acquittal over another bribery charge against Tjong.   Upon review of the cases, the High Court found that Tjong had received two bribes, one of SG$57,386.67 (around US$ 42,400.00) and the other of SG$30,000.00 (around US$ 22,000) from the managing director of a Bangladeshi company to secure contracts in Bangladesh.  In addition to the prison sentences, the authorities have confiscated Tjong's passport and have notified the American embassy not to issue any further passports until Tjong is cleared of his convictions.  Tjong is currently out on bail while he considers whether to appeal the case on points of law.

NUMBER OF CORRUPTION COMPLAINTS AND CASES AT LOWEST IN THREE DECADES

According to Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), an independent government agency in charge of investigating and prosecuting corruption in both the private and public sectors, the number of complaints received and cases investigated in 2014 have been the lowest in the past three decades.   Over the last year, CPIB received 736 complaints, of which 136 were investigated. These figures represent, respectively, a 7 % and 11 % decrease from the previous year.  The overwhelming majority of the cases involve individuals within the private sectors: in 2014, 88% of the individuals prosecuted as a result of investigations conducted by the CPIB were individuals from the private sector, while the remaining 12% were employees of the public sector. 

SINGAPORE PLANS TO INTRODUCE ENHANCED ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURES

Singapore’s Prime Minister announced a number of proposed measures to enhance the country's anti-corruption efforts. These measures include a review of the Prevention of Corruption Act to keep pace with international development and an increase in the manpower of CPIB, Singapore's central agency for investigating corruption. The government is also going to review and update its processes and procedures concerning collaborations with anti-corruption agencies of other countries, and establish a One Stop Corruption Reporting Centre in the city centre to allow complaints to be made in a more publicly accessible manner.

PAKISTAN

NAB CHIEF CALLS FOR WHISTLE BLOWING PROTECTION LAW TO CURB CORRUPTION

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman said, according to a press release, that "the Whistle Blowing Act is imperative for the country", and that NAB has already been liaising with the ministry of law, justice and human rights so that the law on protecting whistle blowers may be passed in Pakistan at the earliest.

SOUTH KOREA

SOUTH KOREA TO PUNISH THOSE RECEIVING GIFTS VALUED AT MORE THAN US$ 900

South Korea's lawmakers have passed an anti-corruption law allowing for the imposition of a thirty million won fine (US$ 27,300) and up to a three-year prison sentence on any civil servant, journalist and teacher who accept single cash donations or gifts valued at more than a million won (US$ 900).  Until now, people have only been sentenced for graft if it could be established that the individual had been involved in receiving or bestowing gifts in exchange for a specific favour, such as assisting in obtaining a government licence.  Under the new law, it will no longer be necessary to prove that a favour was given in exchange of a gift: it will be sufficient to show that the concerned individual had received a large sum of money.  The new law is set to take effect in October 2016. 

INVESTIGATION INTO BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION TERMINATED WITHOUT CHARGES BEING BROUGHT

Bombardier Transportation was investigated in South Korea for offering bribes but not charged. A task force led by Korean prosecutors alleged that Bombardier, based in Quebec, Canada, offered gifts and trips to Canada for civil servants and politicians in order to win a train contract in Yongin city, South Korea. Bombardier allegedly paid for three trips (including business class flights, luxury hotel, golf and sightseeing) to Canada for 37 individuals between 2003 and 2005, 18 of which were members of the City Council of Yongin. Moreover, Bombardier allegedly created a $2-million fund to be used for lobbying civil servants and business partners on other projects in South Korea. According to prosecutors charges were broughtfollowing the investigation because of the statutory limitation according to the prosecutors, although Bombardier has stated that no charges were brought due to a lack of evidence.

VIETNAM

JAPAN TO RESUME GOVERNMENT AID FOR RAILWAY PROJECT IN VIETNAM AFTER BRIBE PAYMENT IS RETURNED

The Japanese Government will resume providing official development assistance (ODA) fund to a railway project in Vietnam as soon as it receives the $782,000 bribe Japan Transportation Consultants Inc. ("JTC") had given to executives at Vietnam railways, the country's state-owned railway operator, to win the contract.  Both JTC and the government officials involved been charged for their involvement in the bribery scandal.  This is the second corruption scandal involving a Japanese ODA funded project since 2008. In 2008, the former deputy director of Hi Chi Minh City's transport department and head of a major Japanese ODA funded project was convicted of receiving bribes from executives of a company appointed as the project consultant.