SEC announces record-breaking $30 million whistleblower award. The award, which is the largest in the Commission’s history, was for key information related to an ongoing fraud investigation. It also marks the fourth time that a whistleblowing award has been made to someone living in a foreign country.
GSK agrees to pay $491 million penalty to Chinese authorities because of briberycharges. The announcement of the largest corporate fine ever imposed in China came in the wake of a one-day trial in Changsha, Hunan, finding the company’s subsidiary guilty of bribing Chinese doctors and hospitals. Investigations in the United States and the United Kingdom appear to be ongoing.
California court dismisses human rights abuse case against Cisco Systems. The California court ruled that the plaintiffs, who had brought their case partially under the Alien Tort Statute, did not sufficiently show facts that human rights abuses touched and concerned the United States with sufficient force to overcome the presumption against extraterritorial application of the statute. The decision closely followed the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.
U.S. Commerce Department publishes list of all known conflict mineral processing facilities. The list, which was made public pursuant to section 1502(d)(3)(C) of the Dodd-Frank Act, tells companies all known facilities that process the minerals tin, tantalum, tungsten, or gold, but does not indicate whether a specific facility processes minerals that are used to finance conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country.
Brazilian authorities charge Embraer SA employees of bribing officials of the Dominican Republic. Brazilian authorities are reportedly working alongside their U.S. counterparts to collect evidence of a $3.5 million bribe to a retired Dominican Air Force colonel. The case marks one of the first major actions by Brazilian authorities to curb instances of bribery abroad.
Raising awareness about bribery doesn’t always have to be serious business. In fact, sometimes it can even be fun. That’s why here at TRACE, we are interested in learning about unique campaigns designed to raise anti-bribery awareness in engaging, new ways. From the forward-thinking, to the humorous and irreverent, these are the projects that have recently caught our eye:
A Walking Tour of Corruption in Prague – Ah, Prague, the golden city of a thousand spires. Some people go to stroll across the Charles bridge or visit Prague’s famed castle; others go to learn about corruption. Yes, that’s right, you can spend your vacation in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities with The Corrupt Tour Travel Agency, which offers walking tours of Prague that explore the city’s unique corruption history. Pick from three different tours: the “Prague Crony Safari,” which explores the “ostentatious dens” of some of the capital’s wealthiest residents, next, the “Hospital on the Edge of the Law” which explores graft at three Prague hospitals, and finally, “Prague’s Best of the Worst” a tour which daftly celebrates Prague’s “Monuments of Corruption.”
The 185-Mile March to End Corruption – Last year, in the dead of winter, Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School Professor, Constitutional scholar and political activist, led a 185-mile march across the state of New Hampshire to promote the idea of tackling campaign finance reform in Washington. The “New Hampshire Rebellion” is a nonpartisan movement that seeks to turn back the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. And yes, they’ll be back in New Hampshire this upcoming January, once more trudging through the sleet and snow.
Corruption Summer Camp – Since 2009, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, along with the NGO The Future Is Yours, has organized a summer camp in Armenia to educate children in Armenia’s southern Syunik province about the dangers of corruption. The young campers conduct trainings, discussions and various games and activities aimed at promoting civil activity and participation and skills that kids can use to resist bribery demands later on in life. And, as with all summer camp experiences, lasting friendships are always made.
Take a moment to read our poll and vote for which headline you think was most newsworthy this month:
China announces Investigation into Volkswagen AG’s China Joint Venture: China’s anti-corruption authority — the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection — has reportedly opened an investigation into two top executives at the joint venture between the German automaker and state-owned FAW Group Corp. Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury unit, is also involved in a probe by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators regarding inflated vehicle and spare part prices.
Tanzania Takes Positive Steps Towards Curbing Corruption: The country’s Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) recently announced that law enforcement have filed 327 cases over the past year and recovered about TZS 40 billion (roughly USD $24 million) during that time period as well. The government also recently announced that it was setting up a special unit to monitor oil and gas revenues, including training auditors on how to manage and oversee lucrative contracts with foreign multinationals.
U.S. Tennis Association Comes Under Scrutiny: A New York Times article has created a stir for the U.S. Tennis Association, pointing out possible conflicts of interest between several of the group’s current and recent board members and recent U.S.T.A. grants and contracts. The paper alleges that at least $3.1 million worth of U.S.T.A. contracts have gone to organizations with ties to board members.
Cobalt International Receives Warning Shot From SEC: The US oil company announced that it had received a Wells Notice from the SEC this month, which warned that the company faced an enforcement action for breaches of certain federal securities laws. The notice is thought to be linked to alleged breaches of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) pertaining to certain offshore oil deals in Angola. Following news of the notice, Cobalt shares fell by more than 10% and several shareholder plaintiffs firms announced that they too were investigating whether to bring actions against the company.
Last week TRACE joined leading anti-corruption experts and academics from all over the world in Vienna, Austria to discuss effective teaching and pedagogy in anti-corruption studies within institutions of higher learning. The workshop, which was organized by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and formed part of the Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative (ACAD), facilitated the exchange of academic expertise between professors with experience in the delivery of anti-corruption education and those who wish to introduce anti-corruption courses in their institutions.
During the three-day workshop, academics, government officials and anti-corruption professionals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences shared stories, challenges, resources and teaching methodologies. A major theme that reverberated throughout the seminar was that academics have an increasingly important role to play in advancing the global anti-corruption agenda and that a deeper level of change can result when academics engage in collective action and collaborate with business and government.
Unfortunately, however, anti-corruption studies and research remain in their infancy due to the present lack of inter-disciplinary anti-corruption materials and funding at the donor level. The ACAD, a collective action project formed in 2012 between UNODC, Northeastern University in Boston, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Bar Association (IBA), seeks to address these issues mainly by 1) providing the academic community with a comprehensive anti-corruption academic support tool and 2) encouraging the teaching of anti-corruption issues as part of courses such as law, business, criminology and political science. Still, more needs to be done to include academics and researchers in the global fight against corruption. Here’s why: