Philippine graft agency chief defies Duterte's suspension order

The head of the Philippine anti-corruption agency on Wednesday said she would defy an order from President Rodrigo Duterte’s office suspending a deputy, saying the constitution guaranteed independence for the agency.

Duterte’s office on Monday ordered the 90-day suspension of the deputy, Melchor Arthur Carandang, after he revealed confidential information last September about the agency’s inquiry into the unexplained wealth of the president.

Conchita Carpio-Morales expressed “concern” over the order, describing it as “an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence” of the agency.

“The ombudsman cannot seriously place at risk the independence of the very office which she has pledged to protect, on the strength of the constitutional guarantees which the High Court has upheld,” she said in a statement.

Duterte has threatened to file an impeachment complaint against Carpio-Morales after her office launched an inquiry into allegations that he had billions of pesos in undeclared funds in bank accounts.

Read the full original article at Reuters.

Lacson wants PCSO chief to explain bribery claim

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Wednesday the Senate Committee on Games and Amusement, which he chairs, would ask Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Ganager Alexander Balutan to shed light on his allegation that gambling consultant Charlie “Atong” Ang offered him a monthly bribe of P200 million in exchange for securing full control of Small Town Lottery (STL) operations.

Lacson wondered why Balutan failed to mention Ang’s alleged bribery attempt to him in the Jan. 24 hearing on the measure creating the Philippine Charity Office.

He also pointed out that the P200 million was mentioned at the hearing not as bribe money but as the potential daily gross earning from STL operations per region, which was way higher than what was being declared by STL operators.

“It looks like the story on the P200 million has been twisted. Now, it’s bribe money,” Lacson told reporters in an interview on Wednesday.

The senator said he also first heard from Balutan at the hearing that Ang had said the PCSO stood to gain P200 million daily – or at least P60 billion a year – if the government took over the STL operations nationwide.

Read the full original article at INQUIRER.net.

Apex court to rule on City Harvest Church criminal reference on Thursday

More than five months after it heard prosecutors’ arguments against the High Court’s decision to impose shorter jail sentences on six former City Harvest Church leaders, the Court of Appeal will on Thursday (Feb 1) deliver its highly anticipated verdict.

The decision could shed light on whether there is a gap in Singapore’s criminal breach of trust (CBT) laws, such that heads of organisations who commit the crime could get off more lightly than their subordinates.

It could also mark the conclusion of the marathon case, for which investigations began in 2010 and the trial began nearly five years ago.

In August last year, the prosecution led by Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair had argued before five-judge apex court – Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Judith Prakash, and Justices Belinda Ang, Quentin Loh and Chua Lee Ming – that the High Court’s split 2-1 decision was wrong.

Read the full original article at TODAYonline.

Najib seeks to stay 1MDB suit until appeal is heard

Prime Minister Najib Razak is appealing against a court decision that rejected his bid to strike out a suit filed by a youth group concerning 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s debt payments.

He is also asking the court to stay all proceedings until that appeal has been disposed.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday ordered Najib, 1MDB and the government to enter their defence regarding a suit over the troubled state investor’s debt payments to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

That suit was filed by the Pakatan Harapan-linked Gerakan Anak Muda Tolak Najib (GANT1) in July.

Justice Hue Siew Kheng yesterday dismissed a written application by the three parties for a stay to file their defence.

Read the full original article at The Malaysian Insight.

AGO names former Pertamina manager graft suspect

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has named a former official at state-owned energy giant Pertamina a suspect in an alleged graft case relating to investment in the Basker Manta Gummy (BMG) Australia oil block.

Investigators at the office of the junior attorney for special crimes named Pertamina’s former MNA upstream directorate Manager, identified only as BK.

“Investigators summoned, questioned and named BK a suspect in a letter issued on Jan. 23,” AGO spokesman Muhammad Rum said on Monday as reported by antaranews.com

The suspect was charged with violating the 2001 law on corruption.

The case started when Pertamina, through its subsidiary PT Pertamina Hulu Energi, acquired 10 percent of the shares in Australia-based Roc Oil Ltd in 2009 for AU$66.2 million with the assumption of gaining 812 barrels of oil per day.

However, the BMG Australia block could only produce 252 barrels per day for PHE Australia Pty Ltd.

Then on Nov. 5, 2010, the oil block was shut down after Roc Oil Lt, Beach Petroleum, Sojitz Energy, and Cieco Energy decided to halt crude oil production because of an uneconomical oil field.

Read the full original article at The Jakarta Post.

RM10 billion lost to corruption every year, says MACC man

The country had lost RM10 billion annually, which was between one and two per cent of the gross domestic production, owing to corruption.

This was the finding by the Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah), said Terengganu Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission director, Principal Assistant Senior Commissioner Mohd Zaki Hasan.

He said this led to the eradication of corruption as one of six National Key Results Areas under the Government Transformation Programme, resulting in the implementation of the corruption-free pledge (IBR, or ikrar bebas rasuah).

“Thus, together with IBR and the Sahabat Gerakan Anti-Revolusi Anti-Rasuah (Gerah), MACC has placed emphasis for organisations to voluntarily carry out their duties responsibly and avoid corruption.

“It is not the executive responsibility of MACC solely to combat corruption but an equal role to be shared by society, especially public servants,” said Zaki.

He added that the numerous media reports on MACC’s arrests should send a clear message that corruption would not be tolerated in public service.

Read the full original article at New Straits Times.

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