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The New York-based Revenue Watch Institute has given a positive assessment of Ghana’s Stabilisation Fund and Heritage Fund, saying they met 13 of 16 good governance fundamentals. The two funds, established under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act of March 2011, were described as featuring” clear deposit, withdrawal and investment rules, effective oversight, and other essential attributes of good governance”. The government published a reconciliation report in March this year detailing the sums passing through the Petroleum Holding Fund, from where oil money is allocated to Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, the annual budget, and the two petroleum funds.

Ghana
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The Tshisekedi government’s announcement that Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler’s Ventora Development would return control of its mining and oil assets to Democratic Republic of Congo puts assets back into play including the Albertine Graben blocks 1 and 2, managed by Gertler’s company Oil of DRCongo. But there are potential further complications from continued US sanctions against Gertler and over exactly what’s in the deal, writes François Misser.

DR Congo
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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
Issue 284 - 12 September 2014

SBM: $240m provision

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Netherlands-based oil services company SBM Offshore in August included a $240m provision in its H1 14 financial statement, in anticipation of a potential settlement for improper sales practices. In April, the company released the findings of an internal investigation into its use of agents which found that SBM paid some $200m in commission to agents during the 2007-11 period, including $18.8m to Equatorial Guinea and $22.7m to Angola. SBM disclosed its findings with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the US Department of Justice and is discussing potential settlement options.

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Botswana has come out as the most transparent in Africa in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, placing 30th out of 175 countries. This delighted the government, which said it was down to the country’s “zero tolerance” approach and the establishment of oversight institutions: the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board and the Competition Authority and the Financial Intelligence Agency. Cape Verde was ranked 41st, Seychelles 47th, Rwanda 49th and Mauritius 52nd. Somalia came bottom, and deputy finance minister Ahmed Hassan Adan reacted angrily, saying the report was not trustworthy. “We want to see any evidence to these allegations.

Botswana
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
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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.

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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