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Issue 271 - 17 February 2014

Wider enforcement of the Bribery Act

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UK Serious Fraud Office director David Green has proposed an amendment to the Bribery Act that would expand the law’s coverage and lead to the possible blacklisting of companies. His proposal would widen the Bribery Act’s ‘failure to prevent bribery’ language to include a failure to prevent all acts of financial crime. Companies and banks could be barred from participating in public contracts across the European Union. International financial institutions have successfully used blacklisting for companies found guilty of corruption – the World Bank in the 12 months to August 2013 debarred 307 entities ranging from major multinationals (for example SNC-Lavalin in April 2013 for ten years) to smaller firms and individual consultants.

Issue 255 - 31 May 2013

Liberia: Assets verification

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The Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in late May said that several government officials had refused to co-operate with its recent phase of the Assets Declaration Verification Exercise. LACC chairwoman Frances Johnson-Allison told a 21 May news conference on the release of its report into the first phase of the exercise that 18 government officials had failed to co-operate, despite receiving “multiple notices” from the commission.

Liberia
Subscriber

Switzerland’s Federal Council on 22 May opened a consultation procedure (due to end 12 September 2013) on the preliminary draft of the Federal Act on the Freezing and Restitution of Assets of Politically Exposed Persons obtained by Unlawful Means. The new law would allow Switzerland to freeze the assets of politically exposed persons (PEPs) and would set up a framework to confiscate and return assets to the countries from which they were taken.

Subscriber

Houston-based oil services company Parker Drilling agreed in mid-April to pay the US authorities $15.9m to settle foreign bribery charges. The company was accused of making a payment to a third party while knowing that it would be used to influence a Nigerian government panel’s decision on whether the company had broken local customs laws.

Nigeria
Free

The government launched an anti-corruption initiative in late April backed by the country’s inspector general, Hassan Sultan. “From the public procurement process to electoral reform and international co-operation, corruption can have a negative impact on a wide range of important functions of the state, and it is our responsibility to eradicate it wherever it is found,” he said. The launch came a few days before Sultan travelled to London for the UK-Djibouti Trade and Investment Forum.

Djibouti
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Canada’s troubled SNC-Lavalin has been hit with a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgrade as the ratings agency warned of the risk of weaker profit in the wake of corruption scandals surrounding the firm’s operations in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Bangladesh. S&P cut its ratings from BBB+ to BBB with negative outlook.

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Anti-corruption campaigners including the London-based NGO Corruption Watch and Angola’s Associação Mãos Livres, have called on the Swiss government to reopen an investigation into a 1990s debt repayment deal between Angola and Russia. Corruption Watch, run by the former African National Congress MP Andrew Feinstein, released a 166-page report, ‘Deception in High Places: The Corrupt Angola-Russia Debt Deal’, on 16 April detailing how more than $700m ended up in private hands following a mid-1990s restructuring of Angolan debt to Russia. The report was presented in the European Parliament on 23 April as an example of the plundering that can take place in developing nations with the complicity of European banks and tax havens.

Angola
Issue 282 - 26 July 2014

DR Congo/Guinea: EITI compliant

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The Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea have both been admitted as full members of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) at an EITI board meeting in Mexico City. “I congratulate the DRC for becoming a full member of the EITI family. Despite all the challenges facing the country, the Congolese people have been working together to bring transparency and accountability to the management of their natural resources,” said EITI board chair Clare Short. DRC’s candidate status was temporarily suspended on 18 April 2013, following the publication of the 2010 EITI Report, which was found to not meet the EITI requirements. The country has since addressed the issues that led to its suspension, an EITI statement said.

DR Congo | Guinea
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The formation of rival governments in eastern and western Libya threatens to drag the country into a full-blown civil conflict even as oil sector activity has reached levels not seen for more than 12 months. The official government appointed by the recently elected House of Representatives and led by interim prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni appears to command National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the main oil terminals and fields. However, its authority over the Central Bank of Libya is less certain, and its control over military forces, even those that support it, is negligible.

Libya
Issue 277 - 20 May 2014

Misinvoicing quantified by NGO

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A report from US-based advocacy group Global Financial Integrity (GFI) has highlighted how much money is siphoned out of African countries due to the practice of over or understating invoices. In its report, Hiding in Plain Sight, GFI analysed data on bilateral trade flows for 2002–11 from the United Nations’ Comtrade database to estimate misinvoicing for Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. It found that Tanzania experienced the greatest annual average gross illicit flows with $1.87bn. Kenya is second with $1.51bn/yr, and Ghana’s figure of $1.44bn is also significant. Uganda had illicit outflows of $884m/yr, and Mozambique’s figure is $585m.

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Bribery released its Phase 3 report on South Africa in mid-March. The report evaluates and makes recommendations on implementation and enforcement of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. The OECD said it was “seriously concerned” by the lack of foreign bribery enforcement actions in South Africa. “Despite South Africa’s economic links to a number of countries with corruption risks, only ten foreign bribery allegations have surfaced since it became a party to the Convention in 2007,” the OECD said.

South Africa
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Bids were due by 15 May for a European Development Fund-financed programme to improve the corporate governance of power utility Zesco. Zesco has obtained European Investment Bank funding for two projects – upgrading the existing 220kV Kafue-Muzuma-Livingstone transmission line to 330 kV, and the Itezhi Tezhi hydro project and related transmission infrastructure. According to the tender notice: “Zesco has expressed its desire and commitment to strengthen good corporate governance and compliance procedures within the company.” The winning consultant will help the utility develop and implement a corporate governance framework.

Zambia
Free

The trial of former president Rupiah Banda, which opened in April, has been suspended until October. Banda was charged with abuse of office in connection with a Nigerian oil deal with the Abuja-based Sarb Energy (AE 253/26). Former energy minister Kenneth Kongo, who was testifying as a state witness, rejected claims that Banda personally benefitted from the deal.

Nigeria | Zambia
Issue 429 - 17 December 2020

US to require ownership disclosure

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In a major victory for transparency campaigners, the US Congress has passed a groundbreaking measure to ban anonymous shell companies by a veto-proof majority. The Corporate Transparency Act, which was tacked on to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, will oblige corporations and limited liability companies established in the United States to disclose their real owners to the US Treasury Department.

Subscriber

The renewal of load-shedding, which looks likely to remain for some time despite continued suppressed demand has led to a cull of senior staff at Eskom’s generation division. The utility said on 4 September that there were 5GW of planned outages and 10.95GW unplanned, resulting in a 3GW deficit.

South Africa