World News

5 ex-Afghan ministers faces prosecution on corruption charges

5 ex-Afghan ministers faces prosecution on corruption charges (photo: Khaama Press)The Attorney General Office (AGO) said Tuesday that the cases of five former ministers accused of graft charges have been referred to the Supreme Court of Afghanistan.

Basir Azizi, spokesman for the Attorney General Office (AGO) told reporters that the former ministers are accused of corruption and misuse of power.

Former transportation ministers Hamidullah Qaderi and Enayatullah Qasemi, former trade and commerce minister Amin Farhang, along with the former mines minister Mohammad Sediq and former minister of economy Jalil Shams are facing prosecution over graft charges and misuse of power, Azizi said.

He also added that the cases of five former ministers were referred to Supreme Court on Tuesday.

According to Azizi, the Attorney General Office is working on the cases of a number of other government officials accused in corruption.

Azizi said the cases will be sent to the court once the Attorney General Office finalizes its work.

Khaama Press       October 21, 2014

South Korea: Nuclear fraud figures back on job

South Korea: Nuclear fraud figures back on job (photo: high-level officials at a state-run energy company who resigned from their posts last year after a corruption scandal involving counterfeit parts in nuclear plants are back on the job, according to an NPAD lawmaker.

One of the three was re-employed in two months, while the other two had their jobs back within nine months.

The findings were presented by New Politics Alliance for Democracy Rep. Chun Soon-ok during a National Assembly audit hearing yesterday for Kepco E&C.

Chun said she found out about the rehirings while reviewing a document submitted by the company, a subsidiary of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco).

“Rehiring these executives is a fraudulent action against the public,” said Chun. “These people resigned on their own will after the company was found to have been involved in an illicit activity that allowed faulty parts to be installed in nuclear plants.”

In June last year, two state-run companies - the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation (KHNP) and Kepco E&C - removed a total of 246 executives in the wake of the scandal that involved counterfeit and uninspected nuclear parts.

The faulty parts caused the affected power plants to be shut down numerous times.

After the parts scandal was revealed, the public became outraged when the former government officials were rehired at smaller affiliates of state-run companies. The rehiring was considered corrupt, and included other practices such as taking bribes for parts supplies.

Two executives from KHNP, the main public corporation in charge of managing operations of nuclear reactors, resigned in January.

However, top management at Kepco E&C followed suit only after it was unveiled that none at the company was discovered that no one had taken responsibility and resigned.

That fueled a public outcry that resulted in immediate resignation of the three officials.

But it turns out the executives got new positions at the energy company as contract workers while receiving annual salaries of between 50 million won ($47,187) and 60 million won.

The lawmaker said all three men are figures who have powerful influence within the company, as they have worked there for more than 30 years. They had even received paychecks of as much as 180 million won a year.

One of the officials, surnamed Kim, who was in charge of management and planning, also acted as a proxy CEO for four months beginning in June 2013 after CEO Ahn Seung-kyu resigned in the face of mounting public anger over the corruption scandal.

Kim currently works in the company’s public relations department.

“The rehiring of executives is unethical and completely violates the social responsibility made by the current CEO of eradicating any corruption,” the lawmaker claimed.

Korea JoongAng Daily        October 21, 2014

Man who made corruption claims against councillor hit with $80,000 damages bill

Councillor Richard Graham (photo: SMH)New South Wales - A NSW man who used his own website to make allegations of corruption and bribery against a local councillor has been ordered to pay $80,000 in damages for defamation.

In a case that serves as a cautionary tale for self-publishers, Supreme Court justice Lucy McCallum also granted a permanent injunction to restrain Bungendore man Allan Powell from publishing the "irrational allegations" against Palerang Shire councillor Richard Graham in the future.

Mr Powell, a former solicitor and bookshop owner, accused Mr Graham of corruption, bribery, fraud and incompetence in a series of eight articles published on his own websites, as well as in an email sent to councillors and mass media outlets.

The court heard that Mr Powell had boasted one of his websites had received 243,958 hits by May last year, but Justice McCallum said the real figure was "probably considerably more limited".

Among the most serious allegations made by Mr Powell was that Mr Graham had defrauded at least $60,000 from the City to Soil program, which was set up to encourage local residents to recycle green waste for composting.

Mr Powell referred his claims to the police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption, as well as bringing a private criminal prosecution against Mr Graham and another person.

The criminal charges were dismissed by Queanbeyan Local Court in February and the ICAC declined to investigate the matter, saying that Mr Powell's allegations were "speculative and unsubstantiated".

Mr Graham retained experienced defamation barrister Matthew Richardson and sued Mr Powell for defamation in the NSW Supreme Court.

The court found that the publications conveyed a range of meanings, including that Mr Graham was a "shyster" and a "disgusting parasite" who ripped off local residents.

Mr Powell, who represented himself, attempted to defend the case on the basis that the allegations were true.

But his written defences, which Justice McCallum noted were "drawn by Mr Powell himself without the benefit of legal advice", were struck out last year.

Justice McCallum said in a preliminary judgment in December last year that "the nature and complexity of the proceedings is such that he plainly requires assistance settling the terms of the defence" and referred Mr Powell to the court's pro bono panel.

But he did not file an amended defence and did not appear in court again.

Justice Robert Beech-Jones entered a default judgment - a judgment where there has not been a full hearing - against Mr Powell in March.

In September, Justice McCallum assessed damages at $80,000. This included an amount for aggravated damages, which took into account Mr Powell's failure to apologise and the "sensational and extreme" language used by him.

Justice McCallum said she accepted that Mr Graham had "been absolutely devastated by the persistence, viciousness and irrationality of Mr Powell's defamatory publications against him".

"The events I have recited have persuaded me that, unless restrained, Mr Powell will persist in his irrational allegations against Mr Graham, notwithstanding the rejection of those allegations by ICAC, the NSW Police and a magistrate and notwithstanding Mr Powell's failure to defend the present action," Justice McCallum said.

She ordered Mr Powell be permanently restrained from publishing the same or similar allegations in the future.

Defamation cases against amateur publishers are not new, but the rise of internet and mobile technology has made it easier for people to publish defamatory content to a wider audience.

Sydney Morning Herald        October 20, 2014

Panama arrests supreme court judge on suspicion of corruption

Alejandro Moncada Luna (photo: Reuters)Panama City - A Panamanian supreme court judge who previously headed the tribunal has been placed under house arrest and suspended from his post pending an investigation into suspected corruption, a congressional committee said on Monday.

Alejandro Moncada is suspected of crimes including money laundering and illicit enrichment, marking the first case of its kind for the Central American country, according to the committee formed a few weeks ago to investigate the judge.

"In the view of this committee, the suspension is justified due to the existence of enough incriminating evidence against the accused relating to the deed reported," said Congresswoman Katleen Levy, a spokeswoman for the committee.

Levy did not elaborate on any evidence.

The congressional committee was created after media reports last month accusing Moncada of purchasing expensive apartments in Panama with illicit means.

Moncada rejected the accusations on Monday and said he had been set up by political enemies following the order for his arrest.

Due to sit in the supreme court until 2020, Moncada was appointed by former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, a bitter rival of new President Juan Carlos Varela.

Once Martinelli's ally and vice president, Varela became a staunch critic of the supermarket tycoon and pledged to clean up the corruption he said the former president had left behind.

However, Varela's government has said little on the investigations into Moncada, which are continuing.

Moncada remains on the supreme court but is barred from performing his duties as well as from leaving his residence or the country without a court order. His properties will be held by the ministry of finance during the probe, Levy said.

Reuters         October 20, 2014

Sri Lanka: Bribery, Corruption Infecting Health

Sri Lanka: Bribery, Corruption Infecting Health ( bribery, corruption and bad administration which reportedly plague the Health Ministry, has resulted the influx of substandard drugs and medical devices to the country.

Secretary All Ceylon Medical Officer’s Association Dr. Jayantha Bandara said that the continuous decline in budgetary allocation to the health sector over the years added with the corruption within the Ministry was severely affecting the country’s free health service.

“While the unnecessary expenditure at the ministry has not decreased the senior officials in the government turn a blind eye to all corruption that is taking place when drugs are purchased. In order to get a good commission Health Ministry officials keep on purchasing substandard medical equipment, quality failed and low efficacy drugs which has cost the country dearly. Although these purchases have not benefited the people, the officials involved in the Health Ministry are highly profited through this deals,” the sources alleged.

According to Dr. Bandara, Sri Lanka’s total expenditure on health as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 3.7 in year 2000 which has declined to 3.2% by year 2010.

“The World Health Organization (WHO), Central Bank and World Bank statistics shows that the Sri Lankan Government has systematically reduced finance allocated for the health sector. According to WHO statistics global expenditure on health as a percentage of the GDP in 2000 was 8.2% and this has increased to 9.2 by 2010, although in Sri Lanka the numbers have come down sharply,” said Dr. Bandara.

Lack of drugs in Hospitals

Dr. Bandara meanwhile said that according to reports, majority of the people in Sri Lanka do not take medicine for their sicknesses due to lack of money.

“Due to less budgetary allocation for medicine there is a shortage of drugs and medical supplies in government hospitals. People have to spend money for medicine out of their pocket. WHO in its reports says that if a country spends more than 30% out of pocket from the total health expenditure it shows that the country’s health sector is inefficient. In year 2000 the global average of out of pocket expenditure on the total health costs was 21.8% which was a healthy sign and it has dropped further to 20.5% in 2010 which is very good.

‘But in Sri Lanka, the average out of pocket expenditure in 2000 was 44.7% and the figure has gone up to 45.7% in 2010 which shows that our health sector is inefficient and people spend more for health from their earnings. When our people do not have the means to spend on medicine they prefer not to take medicine.

‘This is evident clearly in rural areas. Unlike in urban areas, rural folk depend on free medicine and as a result of drug shortages in government hospitals the doctors ask the patients to buy the prescribed medicine from private pharmacies. Other than a very few, majority of the patients do not buy the medicine from outside as they do not have means for this,” Dr. Bandara added.

According to Dr.Bandara, the government is to allocate 7% for the Health Ministry out of its total budget of Rs.1800 billion.

“In every country, more funds are allocated for health and education where as in Sri Lanka, the governments kept on reducing the health ministry allocation,” Dr.Bandara alleged.

He further claimed that though Rs.101 billion has been allocated as Health Ministry recurrent expenditure from the total health budget, it is still not enough to provide the necessary drugs and medical supplies.

“Because of commissions from every medical purchase, those involved purchase substandard drugs and medical supplies. As a result on many occasions we have had to make local purchase if the expiry date of drugs and medical supplies have lapsed. Meanwhile Rs 38.5 billion out of the total health budget has been allocated for capital expenditure,” Dr.Bandara alleged.

According to Dr.Bandara, per capita health expenditure in Sri Lanka for the years 2000, 2006, 2009 and 2010 was US $ 33, 62, 71 and 82 respectively.

“In our neighbouring country Maldives, the per capita health expenditure for year 2000, 2006, 2009 and 2010 was US $ 132, 245, 355 and 490 respectively. In Malaysia, for the same period the per capita health expenditure was US $ 128, 259, 316 and 367. In Cuba the figures were US $ 166, 362, 651 and 583 while in the US for the same period the figures were US $ 4703, 6719, 7790 and 8233. This clearly shows how much low Sri Lanka has allocated for health for the citizens of this country comparing to our closest neighbours Maldives and Malaysia,” Dr.Bandara alleged.

Non-implementation of the Senaka Bibile Drug Policy

Meanwhile, Dr Bandara accused the Health Ministry for its failure to implement the Senaka Bibile Drug Policy which has created a drug mafia in the country. “Without the drug policy we have no control over the in-flow of sub-standard medicine to the country,” said Dr.Bandara, who is also the National Organiser of the Prof.Senaka Bibile Commemorative Association.

In the absence of a drug policy in the country according to Dr.Bandara, patients have to spend lot of money to purchase the drugs that are prescribed by brand names by the doctors.

Meanwhile, President All Ceylon Nurses Services Union, Gamini Kumarasinghe said that if the government implemented Bibile Drug Policy as promised, the country could have saved billions in foreign exchange and helped patients to purchase best quality drugs at an affordable price.

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena accepted that there is a drug mafia in the country and it has sabotaged his attempts to introduce a price control mechanism for pharmaceuticals. Why should the Health Minister get scared of a mafia and why couldn’t he take action against them using the ministerial powers. We as trade unions challenged the minister then to name the members of this mafia group and take immediate action against them. We were confident that the minister would neither reveal the names of those who are involved in this sabotage nor would take action against them as most of the mafia group members are his own ministry high ranking officials,” Kumarasinghe said.

Failure to implement the drug Policy which was formulated 42 years ago by Prof Bibile has reportedly caused the influx of quality-failed and low efficacy drugs to the country.

“It is the Technical Evaluation Committees (TEC) and the Tender Boards that should take the sole responsibility for purchasing substandard medical equipment to hospitals. We have seen TEC overlooking high standard medical equipment which is higher in price but best in quality with low cost substandard equipment. All this high standard medical equipment comes with a guarantee period but the substandard equipment do not have a guarantee period.

‘We can name the machines that went out of order within a few months after purchasing. Once we called the supplier to ask how to operate a certain machine. To our surprise neither the agent nor any of his technical staff members knew how to operate it and they had to read us out the manual details. This shows that the health ministry has purchased machines from a company who has never sold machines to hospitals,” Kumarasinghe alleged.

According to Kumarasinghe, although the Minister once promised that drugs have to be prescribed by its generic name and not by its brand name, it was never implemented.

Kumarasinghe further said, if the Bibile drug policy is implemented, there would be no need for the health department to import 11, 000 varieties of drugs to the country by brand names although the country needs around 1, 000 varieties of drugs under generic name.

“At present the health ministry imports more than 11, 000 varieties of drugs. If the drug policy is implemented there would be no need to import drugs under brand names but from its generic names. Other than the drugs and devices that cannot be manufactured in the country, all others have to be manufactured in the country. We have to import only the raw materials. Then the public will get quality medicine for a cheaper rate. There will be a price control on all pharmaceuticals,” he added.

According to Dr.Bandara, the National Drug Quality Assurance Laboratory (NDQAL) comes under the Medical Supply and Technology Division of the Health Ministry which can check the quality of all drugs that are imported.

“The SPC Chairman once stated that 90% of the required drugs are imported from India has no quality assurance since we have no facilities to check the quality of these medicines. The NDQAL’s role should be to check the sample from the manufacture and give the approval to import the medicine and then to carry out a random check before the stock is shipped. Once the stocks are brought to the country another random check has to be done before they are distributed and to check once again if there are any complaints from the public. Knowing that this procedure is not followed India keeps on exporting sub-standard quality failed drugs to Sri Lanka,” Dr.Bandara alleged.

He further stated that failure to carry out Chemical Analysis and quantitative analysis of the imported drugs, the doctors who prescribe these drugs have no clue whether  these drugs contain the active ingredients or not.

“Sometime we do not know whether the medicines we prescribe are really medicine as we do not carry out chemical and quantitative analysis,” he added.

The Sunday Leader     October 20, 2014

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