CHINA UNCOVERS OVER US$2.7 MILLION OF MISUSED STATE FUNDS
China's National Audit Office (NAO) has reportedly uncovered 16.9 billion yuan (around US$2.72 billion) worth of misused funds from the state's lottery programme. According to a statement from the NAO, public officials have allegedly misappropriated and used the funds to build office buildings and training centres, purchase private cars, arrange overseas travels etc. The state audits looked at funds used between 2012 and 2014 across 18 provinces in China.
CHINA SETS TARGETS FOR GRAFT INSPECTIONS, INCLUDING OFFICIAL NEWSPAPER
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the graft watchdog of China's Communist Party, has announced that it will be investigating a total of 26 government bodies and state-owned companies in its next round of corruption inspections. These entities will include the official People's Daily newspaper, China Eastern Airlines, Air China and the Ministry of Transport and National Railway Administration. The investigations are part of the country's ongoing anti-corruption campaign. In 2014, more than 70 senior officials lost their positions after being investigated by the CCDI.
CHINA SUPREME COURT JUDGE UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR CORRUPTION
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the anti-corruption agency of China's Communist party, has announced that it is investigating a judge sitting within China's highest court for corruption. According to a brief statement released by the CCDI, Xi Xiaoming, the vice president of the Supreme People's Court, has been probed for "serious violations of discipline and laws". Xi Xiaoming is one of the most senior judicial officials to be investigated in the Chinese government's anti-corruption campaign.
ALIBABA EXECUTIVE UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ROLE WITH FORMER EMPLOYER TENCENT
Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has confirmed that its senior executive, Patrick Liu, has been taken into custody over allegations of involvement in corruption at his previous company, Tencent. Alibaba confirmed that Mr Liu's arrest "has nothing to do with Alibaba." Meanwhile, Tencent confirmed that up to six former employees are under investigation on corruption-related activities.
SEBI INCREASES SURVEILLANCE OF MONEY LAUNDERING ACTIVITIES THROUGH STOCK MARKET
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened its surveillance and ordered preventive measures against money laundering activities on the stock market after it found that hundreds of entities were engaged in unauthorised trading schemes to launder money and evade taxes. SEBI has already barred over 350 entities from trading stocks pending further directions. SEBI has also launched an investigation into a string of trades on the small and medium enterprises (SME) trading platform, which is suspected to have been used for money laundering and tax evasion schemes.
MYSTERIOUS DEATHS IN INDIA SUSPECTED OF BEING CONNECTED TO LARGE CORRUPTION SCANDAL
The recent deaths of an investigative journalist and suspects and witnesses have reignited interest in one of the biggest corruption scandals in India. It is believed that since around 2007 tens of thousands of students and job applicants in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have paid bribes (ranging from the equivalent of US$23,000 to US$79,000) to government officials and intermediaries to manipulate the examination results for medical schools and government job vacancies. The corruption scandal is estimated to involve over US$1 billion worth of bribes. To date, over 1900 suspects have been arrested and an estimated 45 to 156 people linked to the scandal have died under mysterious circumstances.
THAI ANTI-BRIBERY LAWS ARE EXTENDED TO COVER FOREIGN OFFICIALS AND BRIBERY THROUGH "ASSOCIATED" PERSONS
Recent amendments to the Organic Act on Counter Corruption B.E. 2542 (1999) have created a new suite of bribery offences applicable to foreign public officials, international organisation workers and state officials who ask for or accept bribes and individuals and legal entities who offer or give bribes to foreign officials, international organisation workers or state officials either directly or through "associated" persons. A severe penalty regime has been imposed for these offences, including the death penalty or life imprisonment. The amendments took effect on 12 July 2015.
A more detailed report on this legislative update can be found in our recent e-bulletin update.
MEGA CORRUPTION SCANDALS AGITATE PAKISTAN
On 13 July 2015, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan a report which includes a list of 150 "mega corruption cases". The list includes criminal allegations against prominent government officials such as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Chief Minister, Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, and some former Prime Ministers, ministers and top bureaucrats relating to large scale corruption. The scandals shocked Pakistan and perceived slowness of NAB's investigations received heavy criticism including those from the Supreme Court. The Minister of Interior, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, has urged the NAB to expedite the investigations "without any fear".
GOVERNOR REASSIGNED TO AVOID CORRUPTION SCANDAL
The government of Laos has ordered the reassignment of Khampheng Saysompheng, the Governor of Luang Prabang province, to lead the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. Khampheng was recently criticized for his involvement in the approval of a land concession to a Chinese investor of an area surrounding one of Laos' most famous natural landmarks. Critics have commented that Khampheng's reassignment was motivated by an intention to avoid criticisms over his involvement in the land mismanagement and other acts of corruption during his administration of the Luang Prabang province.
MALAYSIA TO INVESTIGATE MISAPPROPRIATION SCANDALS IN MELBOURNE PROPERTY DEAL
Malaysia announced on 24 June 2015 that it will probe corruption allegations against its officials relating to a property deal in Melbourne, Australia. According to an Australian media report, Malaysian officials overpaid US$3.66 million from government funds to purchase an apartment block in Melbourne to house Malaysian students studying in Melbourne, and received kickbacks in respect of those transactions. The Malaysian Government announced that it will thoroughly investigate those allegations and will take action for any wrongdoings and misappropriation.
VICE PRESIDENT BINAY FACING CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS
Allegations have been made against Jejomar Binay, the Vice President of the Philippines, that he was involved in corruption and money laundering schemes when he was the mayor of Makati City. Binay has dismissed the allegations and described it as part of a demolition job against him after he announced his interest in seeking presidency in 2016. Binay is immune from prosecution while he holds office as vice president, and has declined invitations to appear before the Senate's blue ribbon subcommittee in charge of investigating the allegations. He expressed the view that he would not expect any just and fair treatment under Senator Aquilino's administration. Binay has also filed a libel and slander lawsuit against his accusers demanding damages of 200 million Pesos.
TWO MORE FORMER ST MARINE SENIOR EXECUTIVES CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION
On 3 July 2015, two further senior executives of Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine Limited were charged in the State Courts of Singapore with corruption-related offences. The former chief operating officer of ST Marine, Han Yew Kwang, was charged with eight counts of conspiring to give illegitimate gratifications amounting to around SGD 790,772 to agents of ST Marine’s customers, while the former president of commercial business of ST Marine, Tan Mong Seng, was charged with one count of conspiring to give an illegitimate gratification of about SGD 43,721 to an agent of Hyundai Engineering and Construction Limited. In December of last year, four other former employees of ST Marine were also charged with corruption.
FORMER SOUTH KOREAN PRIME MINISTER INDICTED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 2 July 2015, prosecutors in South Korea filed charges against two senior government officials for allegedly receiving illegal political funds from the late chairman of Keangnam Enterprises, Sung Woan-jong. Sung committed suicide in April, on the day he was scheduled to appear before a court to defend the prosecutors' attempt to indict him on corruption charges. The former Prime Minister, Lee Wan-koo, was charged with receiving Won30m (US$26,600) in illegal political funding from Sung in 2011, while the current governor of the South Gyeongsang Province, Hong Joon-pyo, allegedly accepted Won100m($88,800) from Sung in 2013. Under South Korea's laws, political contributions of more than Won100,000 are prohibited.