By Luke Balleny
A critical look at some of the good governance stories from the past week:
Germany has a very strange attitude towards corruption. German prosecutors are second only to the U.S. in their zeal to prosecute overseas corruption. However, the country is one of only three G20 countries not to have signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (the other two being Japan and Saudi Arabia). It is also currently attempting to water down European Union efforts to bring transparency to the extractive industry. Now the country’s courts have ruled that some doctors can accept bribes from drug companies. What gives?
This is a story that continues to run and run. First, the runner-up in Mexico’s presidential election accused the winner of money laundering and vote-buying and now the winner is accusing the runner-up of using illegal funding. Regardless of who did what, publicly denouncing your opposite number and accusing them of a crime is neither statesmanlike nor doing much for Mexico’s international reputation.
This ‘free screening’ by intellectual property lobbyists from Warner Bros to U.S. Congressional staffers has obviously been heavily scrutinised by the studio's lawyers. It’s entirely legal but it sails so close to the wind in terms of ethics that I don’t know whether to be impressed or appalled.
The news that U.S. agencies are considering an anti-bribery sweep of the retail sector is not hugely surprising given the ongoing Wal-Mart scandal. However, the sweep of the retail sector follows on the coattails of anti-bribery sweeps of the pharmaceutical, medical device, entertainment, oil and gas and financial sectors. Soon there won’t be an industry that hasn’t faced the scrutiny of the U.S. Department of Justice or Securities and Exchange Commission.
Should a terminal illness allow you to only serve seven months of a 15-year prison sentence for corruption? Jackie Selebi, South Africa’s former police chief received medical parole this week after he was jailed in December 2011 for taking bribes from a drug dealer. Selebi has terminal kidney failure and would undoubtedly have died in prison had he not been paroled. Has justice been served?