Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

China’s Richest Man: Big Money, Big Controversey

November 30, 2008

China‘s richest man, Huang Guangyu, who is being investigated for suspected economic crimes, is no stranger to controversy.

Two years ago, local authorities investigated the self-made 39-year-old billionaire in connection with a loan deal involving his investment company, Eagle Property Group. Huang was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The current probe of Huang, the chairman and controlling shareholder of China’s top electronics retailer GOME — known as China’s Best Buy, the top U.S. electronics chain — throws the spotlight on another Chinese tale of rags-to-riches fame.

Ranked first on Hurun’s China Rich List in 2008, Huang, worth $6.3 billion, was raised in a poor family in China’s Guangdong province. He moved to Beijing in his late teens with his brother and set up a home appliances distribution firm with 30,000 yuan ($4,392), and founded GOME in 1987.

GOME was valued at around $1.8 billion as of November 24 after which trading in the stock was suspended.

The influential Caijing magazine said last week Huang was detained as part of a probe into share price manipulation at SD Jintai, a drugs and medical equipment firm controlled by Huang’s brother, Huang Junqin.

SD Jintai’s stock surged more than eight-fold in 2007. It is still not clear if Huang owns a stake in SD Jintai.

GOME Electrical Appliance Holdings, the company Huang founded, said he is being investigated for suspected economic crimes but the probe is not related to the group, its assets or funds.

By Nerilyn Tenorio and Joseph Chaney, Reuters

Huang Guangyu, chairman of GOME Electrical Appliances Holding ... 
Huang Guangyu, chairman of GOME Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd., gestures during an interview at Reuters China Century Summit in Beijing September 7, 2006.(Jason Lee/Reuters)

“Doing business in China is very complicated. Having a good relationship with everyone, with the government in particular, is a major key to success,” said Castor Pang, a strategist at stock brokerage Sun Hung Kai Financial in Hong Kong.

“It’s very difficult to say, though, that people have to deal with corruption to climb the ladder. In China, businessmen need to deal under the table to make things move faster, to get things done via short-cuts.”

China’s stock regulator has been battling with limited success to curb stock manipulation, insider trading and poor corporate disclosure that have plagued the Chinese market.

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China’s Richest Man Arrested

November 27, 2008

Police have confirmed that one of China’s richest men, Huang Guangyu, is being held in custody while they investigate him for “economic crimes”.

Mr Huang went missing last week and shares in his company Gome have been suspended from trading.

Mr Huang speaks in Beijing on 16 Nov 2006

The 39-year-old is legendary for his rags to riches story

Officials gave no further details, but Chinese media point to alleged irregularities in the share price of a company controlled by his brother.

The billionaire electrical appliance tycoon is worth some $6bn (£4bn).

“We can confirm for you the news that Wong is being held for investigation by Beijing police in connection with economic crimes,” a police spokesman said, referring to Mr Huang by his other name Wong Kwong-yu.

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(From the BBC)

Vietnam Envoy In Africa Arrested: Dealing in Banned Rhino

November 19, 2008

Vietnam says it will recall one of its diplomats from South Africa after she was filmed in an apparent illegal purchase of a rhinoceros horn.

A TV crew accompanying government investigators filmed an agent for a gang of poachers meeting the woman outside Vietnam’s embassy in Pretoria.


They filmed the agent handing the horn to the diplomat, who then took it inside the embassy building.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said it had recalled her to “clarify the affair”.

Vietnam’s ambassador to South Africa, Tran Duy Thi, told the BBC that action had to be taken.

Rhinoceros (file image)
Crushed rhino horn is prized in some traditional East Asian medicine

“She did it right at the front steps of the embassy,” he said. “You see, they filmed the Vietnamese flag as she was doing it – how shameful! There must be a sanction.”

More than 40 rhinos are said to have been killed in South Africa this year.

Conservationists say Vietnamese syndicates are heavily involved in the illegal trade of their horns.

Crushed rhinoceros horn is a prized ingredient in traditional East Asian medicine, where it is used to treat fever and high blood pressure.


Vietnam: Official Suspended For Alleged Bribery

November 19, 2008

A Vietnamese official has been suspended from his job while authorities investigate whether he accepted bribes in connection with a Japanese-funded highway project, state media reported Wednesday.

Huynh Ngoc Sy, vice director of Ho Chi Minh City’s transportation department was overseeing a highway project that allegedly received bribes from Japan-based Pacific Consults International.

Four executives from Pacific Consults International pleaded guilty in a Tokyo court last week to paying $820,000 in bribes to Sy in exchange for contracts in the highway project. They said the payments were made in 2003 and 2004.

According to a report on the VietNamNet news Web site, Vietnamese authorities suspended Sy from his job on Wednesday while they conduct their own investigation into the bribery charges.

Officials at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee were not available for comment.

Last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung promised Vietnamese lawmakers that the government would investigate the case thoroughly.

Corruption is rampant in Vietnam and the ruling Communist Party has vowed to make corruption one of its top priorities. Dozens of senior government officials have been jailed for graft in recent years.

Japan is Vietnam’s largest aid donor and has committed to giving the country $1.1 billion in aid this year, according to Vietnamese government figures. (AP)

Former Taiwan president led away in handcuffs

November 11, 2008

Former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian on Tuesday was led from a prosecutor’s office in handcuffs after being questioned for five hours on money-laundering allegations.

Taiwan television stations, which broadcast images of Chen being taken away, said that Chen arrived at Taipei district court, where a judge could order his detention.

Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-bian was arrested as ... 
Taiwan’s former president Chen Shui-bian was arrested as prosecutors sought to detain him in connection with a long-running corruption probe.(AFP/Sam Yeh)

Chen could be heard shouting, “This is a political persecution” and “Cheers for Taiwan,” as he was being led away.

Associated Press

Chen said Monday night he believed his arrest was imminent. He linked it to attempts by newly installed Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou to placate China, following violent protests last week against a visiting Chinese envoy.

Chen, who has denied any wrongdoing, is an ardent supporter of Taiwanese independence, a cause decried by Beijing, which insists that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. China has threatened war if the island moves to make its 59-year break with the mainland permanent.

“Long live Taiwanese democracy,” Chen declared to his supporters outside the prosecutors’ office. “Long live Taiwanese independence.”

Chen faced more than five hours of questioning Tuesday in connection with his alleged role in what prosecutors say was a money-laundering scheme.

There has been no official statement from prosecutors on the case.

Chen has been the object of a six-month probe into allegations he laundered money and made illegal use of a special presidential fund during his eight years in office that ended in May.

Two of Chen’s senior advisers already have been arrested in the case.

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Thailand: Britain Revokes Visa of Former PM Thaksin

November 8, 2008

Britain has revoked the visas of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Thailand‘s foreign ministry told AFP Saturday, after they fled to the UK to escape corruption allegations.

The ministry confirmed the entry ban after an airline official said the British Embassy in Bangkok had emailed all airlines informing them not to allow the couple to board flights to Britain.


“We have received confirmation from the British authorities that they have revoked former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife’s visas, but they did not give any explanation,” deputy foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdee told AFP.

Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup, fled to Britain in early August after his wife was convicted on tax evasion charges, saying he would not receive a fair trial in Thailand.

Thailand's deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (R) ... 
Thailand’s deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (R) and his wife Pojaman (L). Britain has revoked the visas of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Thailand’s foreign ministry told AFP Saturday, after they fled to the UK to escape corruption allegations.(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

He has since been sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for conflict of interest after helping his wife buy state-owned land when he was prime minister. Four other corruption cases are outstanding against him.

His exact whereabouts on Saturday were unknown, but local media reported he was travelling from China to the Philippines.

Embassy officials have refused to comment, but in the email to airlines, seen by AFP, Bangkok-based immigration liaison manager Andy Gray, from the UK Border Agency wrote:

“The United Kingdom Border Agency has revoked the UK visas held by the following Thai nationals: Thaksin ShinawatraPotjaman Shinawatra,” listing the pair’s passport numbers.

“The UK visas contained in the passports of the individuals listed above are no longer valid for travel. Airlines are advised not to carry these passengers to the UK,” the email said.

Thaksin’s Thailand-based spokesman said he could not confirm the ban.

“What I can verify is that Thaksin has not received any document from the British authorities concerning this issue…. But if it’s true Thaksin can clarify the matter,” said Phonthep Thepkanjana.

In October a British Home Office spokesman said Thaksin and his wife had applied for political asylum, but people close to Thaksin were later quoted in Thai media as saying that report was incorrect.

Thaksin’s critics in Thailand, supported by a group called the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), have occupied the grounds of the prime minister’s offices since August, accusing the current government of running the country on his behalf.

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Thai ex-PM found guilty of corruption

October 21, 2008


Exiled Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been found guilty of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison by the Thai Supreme Court.

In a landmark ruling, he was found to have violated conflict of interest rules in helping his wife buy land from a state agency at a knock-down price.

Thaksin Shinawatra - 21/09/2008

Thaksin Shinawatra has been living in the UK

The couple fled to the UK in August, saying they would not get a fair trial.

The decision comes amid growing tension between the former leader’s supporters and his opponents.

The ruling is the first in a string of stalled and slow-moving cases against Thaksin, former owner and now honorary chairman of Manchester City Football Club, launched in the wake of the 2006 military coup.

The coup leaders claimed there had been massive corruption and abuse of power under Thaksin’s rule, and set up a special unit to investigate the business dealings of the former leader and his close associates.

His wife has already been convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in jail but was acquitted by the Supreme Court in the current case.

Political tensions

The nine-member court ruled by five to four that Thaksin had violated the constitution in involving himself in the land deal.

“Thaksin had violated the article of the constitution on conflict of interest, as he was then prime minister and head of government who was supposed to work for the benefit of the public,” one judge said as he read the verdict.

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Ex-Beijing Vice-Mayor Convicted After Corruption Trial

October 20, 2008


A former vice-mayor of the Chinese capital, Beijing, has received a suspended death sentence for corruption, state media have said.

Liu Zhihua was convicted by a court in Hebei province of taking $1,020,000 (£589,000) in bribes while in charge of building venues for the Olympic Games.

Construction work in Beijing (2006)

Liu supervised the building of venues ahead of August’s Olympic Games

Liu abused his power to give contracts, loans and promotions to others in return for the money, the reports said.

When sacked as vice-mayor in 2006, Liu was also accused of having bad morals.

He was believed to have kept several mistresses, some of whom he reportedly helped become rich through his illegal activities.

One of them, Wang Jianrui, was named by the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Hengshui, although the reports did not say whether she had been prosecuted.

Liu’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told the Associated Press that the allegations had been dubious and that he would probably appeal.

A suspended death penalty in China is normally commuted to life imprisonment on condition of good behaviour.

China has been hit in recent years by a number of high-profile cases of official corruption, which has become rampant since market reforms opened the economy in the 1980s. President Hu Jintao has vowed to take action against those found guilty.

Correspondents say reporting on Liu’s prosecution was restricted in the months leading up to the Olympics in order to avoid tarnishing the state’s image.

Voters Can Still Wake Up: Corruption Defining Barack Obama’s Campaign

October 16, 2008

By David Limbaugh
The Washington Times


Strapped to a polygraph on national TV, I would assert quite confidently that I would strongly condemn thuggish and criminal tactics by a candidate I supported. The ends do not justify the means for me and most other conservatives I know. I wish I believed the same were true for liberals, far too many of whom are deliberately turning their backs on the corruption defining Barack Obama‘s campaign.

It would be bad enough if the Stalinesque stench engulfing the messiah’s campaign were limited merely to its efforts to elect him. But what we fear is that these campaign tactics are of a piece with his policy agenda and his vision for America.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., center, and Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, face off during a presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008.

Above: Senator Obama (L) and Senator McCain at the final presidential debate, October 15, 2008.  Photo: AP

Sincerely intending no melodrama here, it’s hard not to conclude that Mr. Obama aims to change America in fundamental ways, the common denominator of which would be to diminish individual liberties, the most distinguishing feature of the unique American system. Sad to say, most Obama supporters have no clue what he ultimately is about or how his innocuous-sounding ideas could permanently destroy our freedoms.

It’s inconceivable that even a low-level Republican candidate could have Mr. Obama’s associations and employ his campaign tactics without being driven from the race. Yet we have a man running for the highest office in the land surrounded with anti-American allies and covert election burglars, all protected by an unprecedented mainstream media cover-up.

Democrats tell us they place the highest possible value on the integrity of the election process, yet their uniform response to ACORN‘s systematic assault on the voter registration process is unmitigated indifference and denial.

They also cavalierly dismiss Mr. Obama’s undeniable connection to ACORN, as detailed by Mark Levin at “The Corner” blog on National Review Online. Mr. Obama worked for and represented ACORN and has given $800,000 to it from his campaign. Remember how Democrats were ready to hang Republican politicians who might have gone to lunch with lobbyist pariah Jack Abramoff? You want to talk to me about guilt by association? But Mr. Obama’s deep associations with corrupt people and organizations don’t so much as flicker the liberal eyebrow.

ACORN Now Subject of Major FBI Probe
Barack Obama’s Famous Friends, Associates: Hate Speech, Crimes, Fraud Incorporated

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Vietnam Convicts, Imprisons “Whisle Blowing” Reporter Who Found Government Corruption

October 15, 2008

by Frank Zeller

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam jailed a reporter for two years Wednesday for his coverage of state corruption in a court case that has sent a chill through the communist country‘s media industry.

Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at ... 
Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at Hanoi’s people court. Chien was sentenced to two years in prison for his coverage of a major state corruption scandal and also jailed his police source for one year.(AFP)

The Hanoi court also imprisoned for one year a senior police officer who had provided information on the graft scandal to the media, but it allowed a police general and a second journalist to walk free.

The jailed reporter, Nguyen Viet Chien, almost three years ago helped pry open the graft case, which centred on a transport ministry unit whose officials had squandered foreign aid on gambling and high living.

The revelations led to a series of arrests and moved anti-corruption to the centre of government policy, while Vietnam earned international plaudits for allowing its state-controlled media unprecedented freedoms.

Then, in May of this year, police arrested two of the journalists who led the coverage on the explosive case — Chien of the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper, and Nguyen Van Hai of the Tuoi Tre (Youth) daily.

The deputy editors of the two popular papers were replaced and the Communist Party‘s ideology committee has since revoked the press credentials of several more journalists who had jumped to their colleagues’ defence.

On Wednesday, the Hanoi People’s Court found both journalists guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state.”

Chien, a 56-year-old award winning journalist who maintained his innocence throughout the two-day trial, was sentenced to two years in prison, a term that was backdated to the day of his arrest.

Hai, 33, who admitted to some unintended errors in his reporting and at one stage during the hearings broke down in tears, received a more lenient two-year non-custodial term and was allowed to walk free.

The court also convicted the two senior police officers who had given information to the press during the 2005-2006 investigation into the emerging graft scandal in the so-called Project Management Unit (PMU) 18.

Retired police General Pham Xuan Quac, 62, who headed the investigation, received only an official warning, but Lieutenant Colonel Dinh Van Huynh, 50, was sentenced to one year’s jail, also including time served.

Prosecutors argued that the journalists’ reports contained errors and bias and had tarnished the image of officials, party cadres, Vietnam and its leadership, ahead of a five-yearly party congress in early 2006.

The judge, in sentencing, reiterated the prosecution case that “hostile forces, reactionaries and political opportunists” had taken advantage of the scandal to attack Vietnam’s state and party leadership while “stirring up activities to disturb security and order” ahead of the party meeting.

Chien said that until his arrest he had never received a reprimand, defamation suit or complaint from a reader.

“When PMU 18 was discovered, the whole political system of this country was focused on the issue,” he added.

The scandal led to the 2006 resignation of then transport minister Dao Dinh Binh and the arrest of his deputy, Nguyen Viet Tien, while eight PMU 18 officials were later jailed for illegal gambling and corruption.

The deputy minister has since been freed and cleared of all charges.

Foreign diplomats and correspondents were allowed to follow the two-day court proceedings via closed-circuit television, while many more Vietnamese journalists waited on the street outside the court house.

Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has labelled the trial the state’s “revenge” against two “daring journalists who revealed embarrassing cases and brought greater freedom to the Vietnamese press.”

“It is an insult to justice,” RSF said. “The trial is at the epicentre of an earthquake that has destroyed the still fragile basis of a more independent press wanting to play its role of challenging established authority.”