By Luke Balleny
A critical look at some of the good governance stories from the past week:
In giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry, Ken Clarke, the UK’s Justice Minister said that 20 years ago (when Clarke was Chancellor of the Exchequer), journalists had tried to bribe staff at the local branch of his bank in order to get his banking details. Consequently, Clarke was forced to change accounts. What struck me most about this story is the way that Clarke is so matter-of-fact about the incident. One might reasonably have expected an expression of outrage but there’s nothing of the sort. Clarke goes on to describe the relationship between journalists and politicians as “love-hate” but on this evidence, “jaded” might be more appropriate.
A former U.S. congressman who is currently serving time for bribery and tax evasion, wants to be able to own a firearm (again) so that he can “enter shooting contests and hunt bears and cougars” when he gets out of prison in December. As a convicted felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham is barred from owning a firearm but has petitioned a judge to make an exception for him because he has cancer. Cunningham argued that an exception should be made for him because his crime was “non-violent and a first time offense...”
A post on the FCPA blog, a blog dedicated to U.S. anti-corruption law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, said that “you don't see many of the biggest U.S.-based government contractors on the FCPA top ten list”. The post listed the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman as examples of big U.S.-based government contractors. But surely, if most of a company’s sales are to the U.S. government isn’t that company less likely to fall foul of the FCPA because the law is concerned with the bribery of foreign officials rather than U.S. ones?
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the outspoken war crimes prosecutor whose term at the International Criminal Court is ending this month, is likely to join football’s international governing body FIFA as an anti-corruption investigator. While Ocampo is certainly a high profile candidate (and is known to be a keen football fan), he’s not known for his tact. It will be interesting to see whether the fiery Ocampo is able to work with Sepp Blatter, the equally outspoken president of FIFA.
Reuters reported (here) in February how an enterprising Czech tour agency had created a tour of Prague’s corruption hotspots. Now, the craze seems to have reached Greece where the house of a former minister has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Ex-defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was arrested in April on money-laundering charges and he is currently awaiting trial. He denies the charges.