Two Datuks held in graft probe

Two Datuks have been arrested, while a third is being sought by graft busters to help investigations involving a RM1.18bil project in Ijok, Selangor.

The two were among six individuals, including officials and staff from firms in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, who were picked up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday.

The third Datuk is believed to be overseas, sources said.

The case involves the sale of 880ha of land in Ijok to developers.

According to sources, the MACC is investigating financial transactions involving about RM200mil to five companies which received RM68mil, RM62mil, RM42mil, RM16.5mil and RM8.5mil respectively.

The MACC also seized documents from three companies to facilitate investigations.

MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad said five individuals were detained when they turned up at the MACC’s Putrajaya headquarters, while the sixth was arrested at his home in Petaling Jaya.

“We have frozen nine bank accounts of the suspects holding RM39mil. The suspects will be produced in court to be remanded,” he said after a walkabout in Jonker Street here.

Dzulkifli said those detained, aged between 34 and 84, were suspected of being involved in abuse of power and graft. Among them were a father and son.

He added that no politician was among those arrested.

“The alleged case involves the development companies and intermediaries,” he said, adding that the case was being investigated under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 for using one’s office or position for gratification.

Read the full original article at The Star Online.

Thailand's state fund for poor under probe for graft

A Thai anti-corruption agency is investigating the suspected misappropriation of up to 85 per cent of money from a state fund for the poor.

The probe is the latest scandal to hit the military government, which has promised to clean up graft.

The Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday said it has found evidence of irregularities amounting to about 100 million baht (S$4.2 million).

Mr Korntip Daroj, secretary-general of the commission, said: "We have found that there are corrupt practices involving money destined for low-income people, which the state allocates every year. We have investigated and found corruption-related instances and evidence in about 49 out of 76 provinces."

The funds, which are given directly to those deemed in need in grants of up to 3,000 baht, are disbursed through the Social Development and Human Security Ministry. Reuters was unable to reach officials at the ministry for comment.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who heads the junta that seized power in a 2014 coup, said he has ordered the dismissal of all those involved in misappropriating the funds, and called for an investigation by the ministry.

He told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that the government has always been stringent about corruption. "I don't want you to think that it has become worse," he said.

The latest investigation comes as Mr Prayut's deputy and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan is under probe for failing to declare among his assets a collection of luxury watches.

That has partly fuelled recent protests, with people calling for an end to military rule. Elections are set for February next year, after repeated delays.

Read the full original article at The Straits Times.

MAS fines StanChart Singapore, StanChart Trust S$6.4m in total for breaches

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Monday announced it has imposed penalties of S$5.2 million on Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore Branch (SCBS) and S$1.2 million on Standard Chartered Trust (Singapore) Limited (SCTS) for breaches of its anti-money laundering and countering of financing terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements.

These breaches occurred when trust accounts of SCBS' customers were transferred from Standard Chartered Trust (Guernsey) to SCTS from December 2015 to January 2016, said MAS.

MAS said it found SCBS' and SCTS' risk management and controls in relation to the transfers to be "unsatisfactory".

The transfers occurred shortly before Guernsey's implementation of the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) for the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters.

"The timing of the transfers raised questions of whether the clients were attempting to avoid their CRS reporting obligations," said MAS.

"However, SCBS and SCTS did not adequately assess and mitigate against this risk factor, and also failed to file suspicious transaction reports in a timely manner."

MAS said that in determining the regulatory action, it took into consideration mitigating factors. It said SCBS had pro-actively notified the regulator of its internal review on the trust accounts, and SCBS and SCTS management "showed strong commitment" to address the deficiencies identified by MAS.

MAS added that both SCBS and SCTS have taken prompt and substantive remedial measures to strengthen their AML/CFT risk management and controls.

Its deputy managing director Mr Ong Chong Tee said, "MAS requires financial institutions to adequately assess money laundering risks when deciding whether to accept customers. They should also have in place good systems and processes to monitor customer transactions. We expect financial institutions to remain vigilant by instilling a strong risk culture."

A StanChart spokesman said: "We regret that we fell short of our own standards in adequately mitigating the risks involving some clients who might have attempted to avoid reporting obligations under the Common Reporting Standard by transferring their trusteeships between December 2015 and January 2016.

Read the full original article at The Business Times.

Former Vietnam politburo member back in court on suspicion of corruption

A former member of Vietnam’s Politburo went on trial on Monday for alleged financial irregularities at a state-owned enterprise, the latest case in a crackdown on corruption, his lawyer told Reuters.

Dinh La Thang, 57, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in January in a separate case to become the highest-level politician to have been sentenced for decades.

He was back in a Hanoi court on Monday facing an accusation of “deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management”, his lawyer, Nguyen Huy Thiep, said.

Thang faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty, in addition to the 13-year sentence handed down in January, after he was found guilty of “economic mismanagement” at a coal-fired power plant overseen by state-owned energy firm PetroVietnam, of which Thang was chairman.

The Poltiburo is Vietnam’s top decision-making body. Thang lost his position in the Politburo last year, after he came under suspicion of wrongdoing.

In the new trial, he and six other defendants are accused of wrongdoing in connection with causing losses of up to 800 billion dong ($35.1 million) in PetroVietnam’s investment in Ocean Commercial Joint Stock Bank.

Ocean Bank suffered heavy losses and was forcibly taken over in 2015 by the State Bank of Vietnam, the central bank.

The trial is the latest in a string of high-profile cases in coming from a crackdown on graft in Vietnam, where dozens of state officials have been prosecuted over the past year. Critics say the crackdown is also politically motivated.

The trial is expected to last until March 31, said Thiep, who added that Thang was in good health.

Read the full original article at Reuters.

World Bank debars Manila consulting company and top executive

The World Bank Monday announced the debarment of a consulting company and its president for using secret inside information to win a bid, and failing to disclose a conflict of interest on another bid.

Innogy Solutions Inc. and its president, Lloly Yana de Jesus, were debarred for five and a half years.

They used "collusive and fraudulent practices" during the selection process for contracts under a World Bank-funded project in the Philippines, the bank said.

During the debarment, the Manila-based firm and de Jesus are ineligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects.

The case was settled through a Negotiated Resolution Agreement.

Innogy and de Jesus acknowledged responsibility for the "underlying sanctionable practices."

The project was the Integrated Persistent Organic Pollutants Management Project. It was supposed to help the Philippines government reduce the risk of human and environmental exposure to persistent organic pollutants -- certain pesticides and industrial chemicals and their byproducts.

The bank said de Jesus obtained confidential information about the consulting services contract during the selection process. The confidential information wasn't available to other bidders.

Innogy and another consulting firm it partnered with used the confidential information to win the contract.

"Under World Bank consultant guidelines, these actions constitute collusive practices," the World Bank said.

The bank also said Innogy and de Jesus concealed information about her conflict of interest during another contract selection process. That was a "fraudulent practice" under World Bank rules.

The five-and-a-half-year debarments qualify for cross-debarment by the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the African Development Bank.

Read the full original article at The FCPA Blog.

Graft at self-help centres feared as elderly report scams

An ongoing investigation has indicated corruption plaguing the government’s projects for self-help settlement communities and hill-tribe development centres.

In the 2017 fiscal year, projects received a budget of Bt350 million – much higher than Bt123 million for protection centres for the destitute, which are also mired in a corruption scandal.

“At this point, I cannot confirm as to whether corruption at self-help settlement communities and hill-tribe development centres is bigger, given that the investigation is still ongoing,” Public Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) assistant secretary-general Wannop Somjintanakul said yesterday.

The PACC started investigating protection centres for the destitute last month after a university student notified authorities about irregularities at the Khon Kaen Protection Centre for the Destitute.

The probe has found suspicious practices at dozens of the centres.

The investigation has recently expanded to cover self-help settlement communities and hill-tribe development centres.

Wannop said alleged irregularities had been detected at the Chiang Pin self-help settlement community, the first such community to be investigated.

Located in Udon Thani and Nong Bua Lamphu provinces, the Chiang Pin self-help settlement community covers 41,000 people.

Read the full original article at The Nation.


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