Government suspends aid to government of Uganda
The Department for International Development (DFID) has announced that it has suspended all aid to the government of Uganda with immediate effect due to concerns emerging from an ongoing investigation into corruption. About £11 million has been suspended with immediate effect amidst concerns that money is being transferred into private accounts instead of being used to help alleviate poverty. A DFID spokesperson said that the aid will remain frozen unless the government can show that the money is going towards the intended recipients. DFID said that, in the absence of such evidence, it will expect repayment of funds already paid to the Ugandan government, together with administrative and criminal sanctions. A number of European countries have already suspended their aid to Ugandan government.
SFO closes investigation into Kaupthing Bank
The SFO has announced that it has discontinued its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Icelandic bank, Kaupthing hf, on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence to justify its continuation. The SFO has stated that it will continue to cooperate with the Special Prosecutor's Office in Iceland.
NAO report on irregular payments in SFO 2011-12 accounts
The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report on the irregular payments in the SFO's 2011-12 accounts. The chief of the NAO, the Comptroller and Auditor General has qualified his audit opinion on the accounts in respect of the voluntary redundancy costs for the former CEO, Phillippa Williamson. The SFO entered into an agreement to pay £407,000 to cover all additional pension costs arising from the voluntary redundancy of the former CEO, who left the organisation in April 2012. A special severance pay of £15,000 was also made. The SFO should first have sought authority from HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office for the irregular payments. The new Director of the SFO has not sought to seek retrospective approval in respect of the payments because he considers them inappropriate, according to the NAO press release. The results of the independent review into the matter have been shared with the Attorney General's office. The SFO has also issued a press release.
Asil Nadir ordered to pay £5 million
Asil Nadir, who was convicted of ten counts of theft amounting to £29 million from Polly Peck International Plc and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, has been ordered to pay back £5 million by way of compensation to Polly Peck International Plc in respect of losses suffered by the company. Mr Justice Holroyde ordered that the payment should be made in two years and that, in the event of failure to comply with the Order, Nadir should face a default prison sentence of 72 months. No order was made in respect of costs.
Ponzi stockbroker sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment
A former City stockbroker, Nicholas Levene, has been sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment after admitting that he defrauded investors. Levene was sentenced after pleading guilty to 12 counts of fraud, one count of false accounting and one count of obtaining a money transfer by deception. Levene told investors that he had bought shares on their behalf when, instead, the funds had been diverted to his own personal, business or gambling accounts. Levene provided investors with false "profits" which were, in fact, other people's money. The SFO estimates that between 1 January 2005 and 31 October 2009, Levene fraudulently obtained £250 million from investors. Confiscation proceedings are listed to be heard on 25 March 2013 at Southwark Crown Court. The court also imposed a serious crime prevention order, at the request of the SFO, which will prevent Levene from promoting or advising on financial investments for a period of five years following his release from prison.
TI adopts resolutions after Annual Membership Meeting
Following its Annual Membership Meeting, Transparency International (TI) representatives from nearly 100 countries have adopted a number of resolutions aimed at furthering its work and objectives. The key resolutions that were adopted include:
- a call for governments to integrate governance and anti-corruption in their post-2015 framework for the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. In particular TI called for specific, time-bound targets on transparency, accountability and integrity to be adopted addressing access to information, rule of law and civil society participation;
- a call for governments to develop legislation and policies that build transparency and accountability in the natural resources industries;
- call to enhance the integrity of the financial sector. Specifically TI called for institutional transparency within firms in every country in which they operate, an improvement in anti-money laundering (AML) standards (with a particular focus on "know your customer" principles and more effective mutual legal assistance) and market transparency, particularly in relation to key benchmarks, rates and processes which underpin the operation of global financial markets.