Runaway oil exec sentenced to life as PetroVietnam corruption trial wraps up

A notorious runaway oil executive and the former chairman of PetroVietnam were both handed jail sentences on Monday morning in Hanoi at the conclusion of an unprecedented trial that has drawn international attention.

Trinh Xuan Thanh, former board chairman and general director of PetroVietnam Construction Corporation, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his pivotal role in million-dollar losses incurred at power plants the firm was in charge of.

Thanh, 51, was convicted of embezzlement and deliberately acting against State regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.

Thanh drew international attention by fleeing to Germany in 2016 after an investigation was opened into his wealth. Police in Hanoi claim he returned last year and handed himself in.

Dinh La Thang, a former political star and board chairman of PetroVietnam, was sentenced to 13 years in jail for economic management violations.

Read the full original article at VnExpress.net.

[Opinion] Vote against bribery and corruption

One clear but obvious concern for most Malaysian Christians is the “agenda of backdoor Islamisation by PAS”.

Malaysia, from its inception, has been a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-cultural society defined by a Federal Constitution which amplifies and clarifies our rules of law and due processes.

Therefore, and thereby, we were, and must only always be understood as a secular country. No particular or specific religious values can consequently be used to define public space morality.

Premised upon the secular interpretation of our foundation points within the Constitution, it is untenable that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s RUU34 can even be tabled in Parliament. Therefore, a good friend of mine and son of a former Deputy Prime Minister, Tawfik Ismail, has gone to Court over this wrong-doing.

From the word go, it contradicts the Federal Constitution on many counts. Most importantly, and rather unfortunately, the current draft will only muddy the clarity even further, raising the topic into a federal jurisdictional matter. Our constitution clearly states that Islam is only a 9-States matter, under Schedule II of Federal Constitution.

RUU355 would then become license for extreme PAS-UMNO alliance of conservative-types to push for what becomes new federal Islamic rules or guidelines for enforcement into the public and common spaces.

Read the full original article at The Malaysian Insight.

Vietnam corruption trial overshadows Petro IPOs

A corruption trial is captivating Vietnam and raising investor eyebrows, with the government risking tarnishing the image of state enterprises just as it takes some of them public.

To some, the proceedings are reminiscent of the political tactics in another communist-run country -- China.

Twenty-two defendants are facing charges that include breaches of discipline and embezzlement. They include high-profile former executives of Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, or PetroVietnam, one of the country's largest state-owned enterprises.

Curiously, the trial was announced in late December, soon after PetroVietnam's three principal subsidiaries announced they would complete initial public offerings by the end of January. The IPOs by Binh Son Refinery, gas station operator PV Oil and utility PV Power had reportedly been planned for 2017 but were delayed.

As Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economy, Vietnam remains short of capital and the IPOs are part of a plan to increase capital for local companies and boost revenue to the government.

The legal proceedings could make investors think twice about buying shares in the state-owned groups, however, potentially dealing a blow to the government's finances and its broader economic reform effort.

Read the full original article at Nikkei Asian Review.

After 1MDB, a change in government is a must, says Ambiga

After the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, the only future Malaysia has is if there is a change in government, said Ambiga Sreenevasan.

The lawyer-cum activist pulled no punches when speaking at a forum this afternoon, stressing repeatedly the Najib administration has to go for change to take place.

“We can have a great future if we change the government, there is no two ways about that,” she said.

“I am not ashamed to say people have questioned me and said I am not supposed to take sides.”

Ambiga, however, stressed she was not taking sides and was merely stating 60 years (of Barisan Nasional rule) was more than enough.

“It is in the interest of the people to change the government.

“If you look at any other country, where they had the same number of years (of rule), the same predictable things have happened (which are all the problems we have now),” Ambiga said at the “Post 1MDB and Malaysia: what future can we have”, forum in Kuala Lumpur today.

Ambiga also said the corruption in Malaysia is an “endemic” and it would be “a very tough task” to “unravel the extent of corruption”.

Read the full original article at The Malaysian Insight.

Ombudsman affirms filing of graft rap vs Floirendo

The Office of the Ombudsman has upheld its September 2017 ruling finding probable cause to file a graft case against Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. for allegedly having unlawful business interests in a banana plantation doing business with the government.

In an 12-page order dated Dec. 28, 2017, approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Jan. 15, 2018, the anti-graft body said Floirendo failed to raise any valid arguments that would warrant the reversal of its earlier decision.

“After carefully considering the arguments put forth by respondent-movant in his Omnibus Motion, this Office finds no cogent reason to grant the motions for reconsideration and to reopen the case,” the ombudsman said.

In its September 4 ruling, the ombudsman said there is sufficient grounds to charge Floirendo before the Sandiganbayan with violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Section 3 (h) of RA 3019 prohibits government officials from “directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction... in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.”

Read the full original article at Philstar Global.

Several Malaysian politicians on anti-graft agency's radar over Penang undersea tunnel project

Several politicians are on the radar as anti-graft investigators zoom in on kickbacks of millions of ringgit over the feasibility study award for the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Sources familiar with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations said the monetary rewards were over "misconduct" by the parties involved.

"There were politicians who received a few hundred thousand ringgit and those who took millions.

"Investigators are digging in on the extent of the misconduct and where the payments took place.

"It is believed that this is also related to the two land swaps done as payment for the feasibility study," said a source, who declined to elaborate.

The source said the MACC was recording statements from more witnesses to help investigators piece the puzzle together.

Read the full original article at The Straits Times.

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