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Ex-USAID contractor, wife sentenced in $1 million embezzlement

A former deputy director at a private contractor that did business with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was sentenced Friday to 51 months in prison in the embezzlement of more than $1 million from a program meant to address global health problems. Mark Adams, 44, and his wife, Latasha Bell, 36, both of Fort Washington, each pled guilty in October before U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell in federal court in D.C. to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Court records show the couple used money intended to save lives from terrible diseases to, among other things, renovate their home and buy luxury automobiles...

Court records show he also admitted that his false invoices generated more than $1.08 million in fraudulent payments between 2006 and 2010. The bogus invoices claimed to bill for services from Bell and companies controlled by Adams’s friends, including co-conspirator Everett Lipscomb Jr. But the records show that the work and services claimed on the invoices were not provided...Adams and Bell also used fraudulent invoices to pay a home renovation contractor to complete an extensive renovation of their home. In another instance, the records show, Adams and Bell received funds that they used to buy a luxury automobile.

INTERVIEW: World Bank's top cop gets creative in cleaning up business

Stephen Zimmermann says he needs more help from national authorities in fighting corruption on projects to end global poverty if his office is to have real impact...Of the 42 entities that were barred from doing business with the World Bank last fiscal year, 69 percent of the cases were for fraud, which critics say is a relatively simple to prove if there is an altered bidding document or bank statement.  Zimmermann said that very often the case starts out as one of suspected corruption and collusion, but his team faces investigative hurdles and are unable to gather sufficient proof.

World Bank Cracks Down on Corruption Amid Leadership Change

The World Bank sanctioned 83 entities in 2012 for fraud or corruption on bank projects, a 247% increase from 2011 , according to an annual report released Tuesday. The statistics underscore the heightened emphasis on anti-corruption efforts at the World Bank in recent years...The number of businesses, non-governmental institutions and individuals debarred from World Bank projects increased to 83 from 32 in 2011. Since the World Bank established its punishment system in 1999, more than 541 firms and individuals have been sanctioned for fraud, corruption or collusion. Most come in the form of debarments, which render those designated as such ineligible to participate in Bank-financed operations.


World Bank names former ICC prosecutor to head corruption panel

The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will lead a review of Bangladesh's investigation of alleged corruption tied to a major bridge project, the World Bank said. Luis Moreno Ocampo will head the three-member panel and deliver a report to the World Bank, one of several steps necessary for the Washington-based development institution to resume its $1.2 billion line of credit. Ocampo sought to prosecute individuals for crimes against humanity at the ICC, located in The Hague, Netherlands. The World Bank canceled funding for the Padma River development in Bangladesh in June, saying it had "credible evidence" of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government officials.

The World Bank battles corruption in Bangladesh

For months now, the World Bank and the government of Bangladesh have been sparring over a planned Bank loan to help construct a bridge over the Padma River. The Bank backed out of the project in June, insisting that it had uncovered evidence of high-level corruption. Specifically, the Bank alleged that representatives of a major Canadian engineering firm bribed Bangladeshi officials (Canadian authorities are reportedly investigating two firm executives). The Bank's move produced outrage in Bangladesh, which insisted that it would find other financing.

More quietly, however, conversations about how to address the Bank's concerns proceeded. The Bank presented a stiff list of conditions: Bangladesh would  have to suspend all officials suspected of corruption, initiate a special investigation domestically, and give an international expert panel access to all relevant information. Last week, the international lender reported that the Bangladeshi authorities had begun fulfilling these terms...

INTERPOL and the World Bank vs. Corruption

Any observer of anti-corruption drives can attest that with such efforts usually comes a measure of . . . corruption. How does it happen?

  • First, a government official is charged with the duty of rooting out corruption, and such rooting may target bribery, fraud, embezzlement, and the like.  
  • When officials begin to prosecute such crimes, the public is often quite supportive of those actions, and governments are allowed a bit more wiggle room in their law enforcement activities than they might otherwise have.
  • Once the anti-corruption activity gains steam, it sometimes takes on the taint of the very corruption it seeks to eliminate.  Officials feel emboldened to act in ways that are technically illegal, but seem palatable in an "end justifies the means" sort of way.

The anti-corruption effort can be used as a shield to cover politically motivated criminal charges

U.S. official says government wasted $6-8 billion in Iraq reconstruction

The official in charge of monitoring America’s $51 billion effort to reconstruct Iraq has estimated that $6 billion to $8 billion of that amount was lost to waste, fraud and abuse...more than 11 percent of the billions spent...
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said the exact funds lost to fraud and waste “can never be known,” largely because of poor record-keeping by the U.S. agencies involved in the effort. These include the Departments of State and Defense, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development...
...auditors repeatedly found that the State Department and Defense Department failed to properly review invoices from government contractors, often approving billions of dollars in services without checking if costs were accurate or efficient...the cost of many contracts was steadily increased due to frequent modifications...many agencies sometimes skipped appropriate review of their bills in an effort to spend money within a deadline, so they did not have to return it to the Treasury...
The report lays much of the blame on a lack of manpower dedicated to reviewing and overseeing government contracts. The State Department enlisted a single contracting officer to handle a $2.5 billion deal with DynCorp International to train Iraqi police forces, for example...
SIGIR’s investigation also uncovered instances of bid-rigging and bribe-taking by State and Pentagon officials. Fraudulent activities uncovered by the special inspector general resulted in 87 indictments, according to the report. Of those cases, 61 involved contract kickbacks, 11 involved contract fraud, and nine were related to embezzlement. Both military officers and defense contractors were frequently implicated.

U.S. audit: $200M wasted on Iraqi police training

Whistleblowers in the United Nations ---- Victory for James Wasserstrom, the UN's leading whistleblower

James Wasserstrom was posted to Kosovo to fight corruption. In 2007 he started raising concerns about what he saw as misconduct involving links between UN officials and a local utility company. His worries were ignored. After he complained to the UN’s oversight office, he says, his boss cut his staff, in effect abolishing his job, and had him investigated for misconduct. That culminated in his detention, the search of his house and car, and other indignities...

... after a long and costly legal battle that unearthed documents backing Mr Wasserstrom’s case, the UN’s new Dispute Tribunal overturned that. Without ruling on the alleged corruption, Judge Goolam Meeran, in a blistering judgment, said “any reasonable reviewer” would have spotted the clear conflicts in the UN’s evidence and demanded, at the least, more investigation of the complainant’s treatment. Now an anti-corruption officer at America’s embassy in Kabul, he stands to gain $1m in damages, plus costs.

He is particularly critical of top officials, including the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, for “deliberately undermining what they claim is support for whistleblowers” for footdragging and for misleading the General Assembly in these respects. “They clearly never expected that I would force them into court,” he said.


Corruption at the heart of the United Nations: An investigation has concluded that the former head of the United Nations' oil-for-food programme in Iraq took kickbacks to help an oil company win contracts

The report is a severe blow to the organisation at a crucial time...An independent commission has found that Benon Sevan, the former head of the UN’s oil-for-food programme in Iraq, “corruptly benefited” from kickbacks while he was in charge. Another UN official, from the procurement office, is accused of soliciting bribes. The UN’s biggest-ever humanitarian undertaking seems to have become its biggest-ever scandal...

The Volcker committee also says it has evidence that Mr Yakovlev took hundreds of thousands of dollars from other UN contractors. He and Mr Sevan are now the first two UN officials to be directly accused of personally benefiting from corrupt activity.

Summary of the Iraq/United Nations Oil for Food Scandal (from Wikipedia)

The Oil-for-Food Programme (OFF), established by the United Nations in 1995 was established with the stated intent to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for ordinary Iraqi citizens without allowing Iraq to boost its military capabilities...
In addition to criticism of the basic approach, the programme suffered from widespread corruption and abuse. Throughout its existence, the programme was dogged by accusations that some of its profits were unlawfully diverted to the government of Iraq and to UN officials...

The scheme is alleged to have worked in this way: individuals and organizations sympathetic to the Iraqi regime, or those just easily bribed, were offered oil contracts through the Oil-for-Food Programme. These contracts for Iraqi oil could then be sold on the open world market and the seller was allowed to keep a transaction fee, said to be between $0.15 and $0.50/barrel (0.94 and 3.14 $/m) of oil sold. The seller was then to refund the Iraqi government a certain percentage of the commission.

Contracts to sell Iraq humanitarian goods through the Oil-for-Food Programme were given to companies and individuals based on their willingness to kick back a certain percentage of the contract profits to the Iraqi regime. Companies that sold commodities via the Oil-for-Food Programme were overcharging by up to 10%, with part of the overcharged amount being diverted into private bank accounts for Saddam Hussein and other regime officials and the other part being kept by the supplier.

The involvement of the UN itself in the scandal began in February 2004 after the name of Benon Sevan, executive director of the Oil-for-Food Programme, appeared on the Iraqi Oil Ministry's documents. Sevan allegedly was given vouchers for at least 11,000,000 barrels (1,700,000 m) of oil, worth some $3.5 million in personal profit. Sevan has denied the charges.

FORBES: World Bank Spinning Out Of Control - Corruption, Dysfunction Await New Head

...economic superpower China remains one of the bank’s largest and most valued clients, even as it doles out development money to other countries and bullies the bank from aggressively investigating corruption....

Internal reports, reviewed by FORBES, show, for example, that even after Zoellick implemented a budget freeze some officials operated an off-budget system that defies cost control, while others used revolving doors to game the system to make fortunes for themselves or enhance their positions within the bank...

The bank, those inside and outside it say, is so obsessed with reputational risk that it reflexively covers up anything that could appear negative, rather than address it. Whistle-blower witch hunts...undermine the one sure way to root out problems at a Washington headquarters dominated by fearful yes-men and yes-women, who–wary of a quick expulsion back to their own countries– rarely offer their true opinions...

The bank’s corruption fighters are too focused on specific development projects and not enough on the budgets of poor countries, where bank funds–more than $50 billion since 2008–are commingled with a country’s income and may not be used for its intended purpose. These funds go down a rabbit hole and are almost impossible to track...

...a 2006 study, however, Lerrick drilled down into the bank’s books and found real annual losses of $100 million to $500 million per year on its loans–although accounting maneuvers painted a rosier picture of the financials...

“Trust funds” are the World Bank’s dirty little secret, their version of Congressional earmarks. There are hundreds of them, funded by dozens of countries and dedicated to virtually every poverty-type project you can think of. And they have been growing so phenomenally that they now provide $600 million annually, or 30% of the bank’s total administrative budget...

since they have various arms of the bank administering these funds, there’s even less oversight than there would have been otherwise. And while those trust funds are generally not supposed to go toward administrative overhead, they often do anyway, say bank insiders, which many countries are unaware of. FORBES has turned up examples–such as with Italy–in which arms of the bank have been charging headquarters and individual countries for the same salaries and expenses, helping to enrich bureaucratic fiefdoms.

FORBES has also discovered a whole layer of bank officials who have learned how to game the system or expand their influence through its constantly revolving doors...

it’s not shocking that last December more than $2 billion suddenly started appearing, disappearing and reappearing across the online budget accounts (and computer screens) of bank units around the world, according to staffers responsible for those budgets. In some accounts they showed huge deficits where none had been, while in others there were sudden surpluses. This was popping up in unrelated units across the bank’s computer networks–and driving everyone crazy trying to figure out what was happening...It eroded confidence in the World Bank’s controls...


U.N. Report Flags Afghanistan Fraud

The United Nations agency that administers a trust fund bankrolling Afghanistan's police allowed procurement fraud to flourish for several years, according to an internal U.N. report seen by The Wall Street Journal. The report, which hasn't been made public, casts new light on possible mismanagement at a U.N. office that has channeled billions of dollars into the country since 2002. It also raises new questions about the international community's role in Afghanistan at a delicate moment: U.S. and international troops are departing next year, just as the country is bracing for a high-stakes election to pick President Hamid Karzai's successor. At issue is the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, or Lotfa, a fund administered by the U.N. Development Program that covers payroll and benefits for the Afghan National Police. Started in 2002, Lotfa has overseen the delivery of around $2.5 billion to help bankroll and build the Afghan police force. Last year, international monitors raised concerns about suspected fraud at the fund, allegations first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The reports caused a major credibility problem for the U.N. in Afghanistan: Lotfa had previously been touted as a model for international assistance. At the time, the European Union put tens of millions of dollars in anticipated donations to Lotfa on hold amid the investigation.

BBC Documentary Exposes Corruption and Abuse in Afghan Police Force

A BBC documentary has uncovered evidence of abuse by the Afghan police force in Helmand province. Reporter Ben Anderson spent five weeks following a group of US Marines who are advising the police in Sangin district before the hand-over of power is completed there next month. He discovered evidence of some shocking behavior including corruption, kidnap, drug use, murder and child abuse.

Afghan corruption imperils future success

The U.S. has spent more on reconstruction in Afghanistan than in any other foreign country, says John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. Sopko says the U.S. is spending about $28 million a day on reconstruction projects, which has amounted to close to $100 billion over the past decade... much of the reconstruction effort has been wasted because of mismanagement and corruption. Recently, Sopko said that his agency's job is to protect U.S. funds from fraud, mismanagement and abuse. Then he noted a series of abuses where buildings collapsed, where contractors disappeared with funds, and where projects were funded in areas that could never be monitored for security reasons. He admitted, "We are at risk of wasting billions of dollars."

Special IG for Afghan reconstruction cites rampant fraud, waste

Much of the $28 million the United States spends daily to build up Afghanistan is thrown at projects without planning, and little attention is paid to whether the work ever gets done right, the U.S. official in charge of oversight of Afghan reconstruction said Thursday. Meanwhile, security is so bad in many areas that keeping watch over projects is nearly impossible, while bribes and corruption continue to flourish, said John Sopko, who in July took over the job of Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR. In his first public speech since his appointment, he painted a grim picture of the state of the U.S. campaign to remake Afghanistan, an effort that has cost thousands of U.S. lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. The quarterly reports that Sopko, a longtime prosecutor and congressional counsel, has since issued form a counterpoint to more optimistic assessments coming from the Pentagon and other parts of the U.S. government. In order to wisely use U.S. taxpayer money to reconstruct Afghanistan, U.S. military and civilian officials need to start asking tough but simple questions, Sopko told an audience at the Stimson Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on global security issues. “Are these programs and buildings needed? Have you asked the Afghans if they want them?” he said. “Have we designed them to meet any specific needs that the Afghans have? And have we designed them in such a way that they can be sustainable in the future?”

INSPECTOR GENERAL: Afghan fuel records go missing

What happened to almost $475 million worth of oil destined for the Afghan National Army...Unfortunately, the inspectors may never find out.  According to the report released Monday, more than four years of financial records that the Department of Defense was supposed to keep to track this spending are either missing or so poorly kept that even gathering basic information, such as the location and size of fuel sites, was not possible.
The report concludes that the Department of Defense agency in charge of tracking the oil “does not have accurate or supportable information on how much U.S. funds are needed for [Army] fuel, where and how the fuel is actually used, or how much fuel has been lost or stolen.”

AFGHAN AID: Donors Losing Billions to Corruption

As much as $1 billion of the $8 billion donated in the past eight years has been lost to corruption.
Corruption in the country is nothing new, but it is worsening. Afghanistan has had a long history of conflict, contraband and war. It falls almost at the bottom of the list of the most corrupt and poorly governed countries... bribe payments — for everything from enrolling in elementary school to getting a permit — doubled between 1997 and 2009, topping $1 billion a year. Corruption and black-market trading, which is closely linked to drugs and arms trafficking, have reached over $12 billion annually...
In recent years, key donors have provided technical and financial support for anti-corruption programs. But their efforts have not always been appropriate in the Afghan context, sufficiently coordinated, or integrated with other reforms...

Afghanistan Contractor Accountability Bill Introduced

Afghan corruption rife, House panel told

American tax dollars are funding widespread corruption in the Afghan military and police, a Middle East specialist told a House panel...Bribes, embezzlement, “no-show” jobs and the re-sale of donated equipment and ammunition are commonplace among Afghan soldiers and police officers...Nearly 90 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP comes from international aid.

Is corruption the cost of saving Afghanistan?

In fact, there is virtually no chance that the Afghan government will tackle corruption – and everyone knows it. President Hamid Karzai has made similar commitments for years, yet not a single high-level official has been convicted for graft, in a country whose public sector ranks as the third-most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International.

The unspoken reality is that the United States, which drives international policy on Afghanistan, appears to have resigned itself to this kleptocracy. Back in 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama tried to pressure the Afghan leader into tackling corruption, but his efforts served only to worsen relations between the two countries, and he soon backed off...Washington seems to have decided that a kleptocratic Afghan government is better than no Afghan government...


Afghan aid often goes to white elephants and to line pockets

The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction claims that Washington has failed to account for billions spent on projects.
Among the projects were six Afghan National Police buildings so poorly made they could not be used. A Kabul Power plant costing 300 million of U.S. taxpayer funds encountered years of delays and cost increases and now that it is built is used only as an expensive backup facility! 

U.S. Wages Sisyphean War Against Afghan Corruption

U.S. construction projects in Afghanistan challenged by inspector general's report

7 Officials in Afghan Investment Agency Quit, Protesting Graft

New World Bank Report Highlights Success of its Integrity Work and a Continued Commitment to Managing Fraud and Corruption Risks in Projects

The Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) concluded another strong year in its preventive and investigative efforts, with 83 debarments of wrongdoing firms, new agreements with national law enforcement authorities to expand the impact of INT’s investigations, numerous referrals to law enforcement agencies, and robust preventive efforts to help ensure Bank-financed projects deliver results.

For the World Bank Group, fighting fraud and corruption is a vital responsibility," saidWorld Bank President Jim Yong Kim. "My predecessor, Robert Zoellick, put it well, ‘Corruption steals from the poor.’ Fighting corruption is fundamental to the work we do each day to eliminate poverty and expand prosperity, to ensure that our efforts are effective and build sustainable change through good governance and sound institutions.

Integrity results during FY12 include:

  • 83 entities debarred, bringing the total number of debarred entities, non-governmental organizations and individuals to 541
  • 122 jointly recognized debarments among multilateral development banks (MDBs) that signed the Cross Debarment agreement
  • Building precautions against fraud and corruption in 84 high-risk projects with a combined lending volume of USD 21.2 billion.
  • Eight new memoranda of understanding with national authorities and development organizations from around the world including the Nordic Development Fund, the Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands, the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ombudsman of the Philippines.

Additional integrity results include targeting firms, large and small, in different sectors to bolster corporate compliance, restitution and help make development clean. Companies including Alstom, Oxford University Press among others acknowledged misconduct in a number of World Bank-financed projects. As part of Negotiated Resolution Agreements with these companies, a number of their subsidiaries have been debarred and they commit to cooperating with INT while improving their internal compliance programs. In addition, Alstom is paying USD 9.5 million and Oxford University Press USD 500,000 to remedy some of the harm done by the misconduct.

Annual Report: World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency fiscal 2012 - finding the right balance (Click here to download, PDF, 56 pp.)

The Urgency of World Bank Reform on the Good Governance Stage

Many World Bank staff are dedicated to the Bank’s mission, and earnestly strive to design projects and programs that circumvent corruption. But this is especially difficult in the governance area where specific government agencies, under the close supervision of powerful central government politicians, are in greatest need of being cleaned up.

Developing an NGO corruption risk management system: Considerations for donors (PDF, 34 pp.)

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are often on the front line of aid delivery, managing a significant proportion of aid funds. The risk of corruption in NGO operations is therefore a significant concern. Yet so far, many international donors and the NGOs themselves have not taken a comprehensive approach to managing these corruption risks. Based on an analysis of the systems of four donor agencies and four international NGOs, this report distills good practices for NGO corruption risk management systems...Corruption risk management should be promoted as an essential investment in institutional capacity development and therefore a necessary programme cost serving the overall goal of securing positive development outcomes.

Role of CSOs in fighting corruption: Issues and challenges

A broad coalition between parliament and a vibrant civil society can be especially helpful in preventing and combating corruption.  Similarly, institutionalising political parties, strengthening and reforming them from within, should invariably go hand in hand with the fight against corruption by other political institutions. Such reforms increase the legitimacy and representational value of parties, build the popular trust toward democracy, and lend the national anti-corruption efforts additional credibility.

The World Bank's anti-corruption record

Transparency International calls on the incoming World Bank president to take charge of this task by =

= Expanding resources and budgets available for good governance initiatives, particularly those aimed at supporting civil society partici...pation and oversight.
= Making the Governance and Anti-Corruption strategy the lynchpin for all governance initiatives both within the bank and in its country operations.
= Ensuring that the World Bank’s safeguards and risk strategies are modernised to meet related social and anti-corruption responsibilities and changes in the lending market place.
= Bringing the World Bank’s new lending instruments and voting structures in line with the commitments and plans set out in the governance strategy.
= Protecting whistleblowers – internal and external to the organisation – that come forward with allegations of misconduct involving projects and initiatives backed by the World Bank."

G20: the anti-corruption record

  • 11: number of G20 members who score less than five out of 10 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index...
  • 56 per cent: of citizens in G20 countries think corruption has increased in their country in the last three years...
  • US $4.8 trillion: the proceeds of financial crimes such as bribery and tax evasion that have flowed out of the G20’s 10 emerging economies from 2000-2009...
  • 451: number of anti-bribery cases completed in G20 countries signed up to OECD anti-bribery convention by the end of 2010...


This website is dedicated to providing a reference source on the scourge that is whirling across planet Earth destroying governments, businesses, cities, families and imperiling civilized culture by agregating and making available on one site sources of news, analysis and opinion about corruption.
Criteria for inclusion on this site of "BIG Corruption" cases: 
  • Very High level corporate and/or government official(s) involved;
  • Very Large amount of money lost;
  • International financing/aid agency program; 
  • Global impact on numerous countries/businesses/investors; and/or
  • Classic example that can be used in training/seminarsmajor cases of global fraud and corruption.
  • As a news agregator website this site primarily serves to gather for research and educational purposes in one single place news and information specifically pertinent to major global corruption in business and government. The news items, views, editorials and opinions summarized or reported on this website are taken from the general media and reputable blogs, websites, etc., and are exclusively the responsibility of the original sources and/or authors. In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, any copyrighted work on this website is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for nonprofit research and educational purposes only. Ref:
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