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Ukraine ranks 7th in Ernst & Young's corruption perception rating

Corruption in Ukraine (photo: www.ilovegreece.ru)Eighty percent of the pollees in Ukraine agree that bribery or corrupt practices happen widely in business in this country, according to a survey conducted by Ernst & Young (EY).

Out of 100 polled employees from large companies, 80% agree that bribery or corrupt practices happen widely in business in Ukraine, against 60% in 2014, EY's Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) Fraud Survey, entitled "Fraud and corruption – the easy option for growth?", says.

Alexei Kredisov, the Managing Partner of Ernst & Young in Ukraine and Co-Chair of the Global Emerging Markets Center, says that such a result could be regarded as a "yellow card" to the efficiency and pace of anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine, Deutsche Welle reported.

"The deterioration of the assessment of the business environment is obvious. It could have been caused by the worsening of economic indicators at the macro and micro levels, as well as by the mismatch of the pace of the development of anti-corruption practices in business and in government," he said.

The survey revealed that Croatia was considered to be the most corrupt country in 2015 with 92% of the pollees agreed with the statement.

The survey included 3,800 interviews with employees of large companies in 38 countries online or in person between December 2014 and January 2015. Interviews were conducted on an anonymous basis using local language in all countries.

UNIAN               May 20, 2015

 
Banking system corruption

Bank collapse (image: http://cdn.cyprus-property-buyers.com)INVESTIGATORS probing reasons that resulted in the meltdown of the Cyprus economy in 2013 have uncovered unprecedented bad practices by banks, which lead to the squandering of billions of Euros.

Sources close to the team of investigators told state broadcaster CyBC that large loans were approved by the banks without due appraisal of collateral values.

In some cases the banks did not ask borrowers to provide proof of their economic situation, while in other cases uncovered by the investigators banks accepted forged guarantee documents.

Many large loans were given at an ‘unusually low interest rate’ and in one of the cases uncovered so far, the bank granted the borrower a 3-year grace period.

Investigators have requested the British, Greek and Italian authorities to provide information on loan guarantees.

The sources revealed that some of the investigations are close to the stage where charges can be filed against people involved in the banking malpractices.

By Nigel Howarth

Cyprus Property News                         May 3, 2015

 
Corruption: Spain, Greece and Cyprus on the top in Europe

Corruption in Europe (image:http://scd.france24.com) According to a new report by the European Commission, the extent of corruption across Europe is "breathtaking", costing the EU economy at least 120 billion euro every year. The Commission, as Statista website reports, said it was the first time it has done a survey like this and the results are certainly interesting.

Respondents across the European Union were asked if they are "personally affected by corruption in daily life", among other questions. At the top of the scale, 63% of people in both Spain and Greece agreed that they are affected by daily corruption. In Cyprus, the figure was 57%.

According to the views of those polled, the least corrupt countries in the European Union are Denmark, France and Germany.

Just 3% of Danes feel they are affected by corruption in daily life and this figure rises slightly to 6% in both France and Germany.

ANSAmed                   April 30, 2015

 
Russia to launch own corruption index, to replace ‘biased’ Transparency Intl

Kaliningrad anti-corruption rally (photo: RIA Novosti/Igor Zarembo)

A Russian government institute has developed a complex program for evaluating the level of corruption, which its authors say is superior to the widely advertised, but very subjective Transparency International index.

The new method will be presented by the Institute of Law and Comparative Jurisprudence at the Eurasian Anti-Corruption Forum this week, the Izvestia daily reported on Monday. It is called the International Corruption Monitoring Program, or MONKOR.

The new index is based on criminal statistics, economic data, opinion polls and analysis of national legislation, one of its authors, Artyom Tsyrin, told reporters.This makes it different from the famous Corruption Perception Index, which is prepared annually by the international NGO Transparency International, he added.

“The Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International only evaluates psychological attitude of responders in polls. As a result, they are making conclusions on desirable institutional changes in the country purely on the basis of sociological studies. We try to find a correlation between actions and effects. It is important to move away from a subjective approach and towards objective research.

Our institute offers a universal tool allowing any willing nation to conduct an evaluation of its anti-corruption efforts and figure out whether the national anti-corruption policy is effective. MONKOR can compare the results in various countries that use its methods,” Tsyrin said.

Despite the fact that MONKOR’s author sees it as an alternative to Transparency International’s index, the latter is used in the Russian method as part of its fundamental data, along with the Word Bank’s country policy and institutional assessment (CPIA) for Corruption. Experts at the International anti-corruption academy and the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) group also participated in the research.

In Russia, the index uses data provided by the Supreme Court, the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office. It will also include “corruption market” data provided by the Ministry of Economic Development.

The new index is being tested in Russia and Kyrgyzstan, and talks are being held with Belarus, Kazakhstan and some other nations, Tsyrin told reporters.

Russia’s position in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index has been gradually falling since the mid-1990s. In 2014, the country was placed 136th of 174, a list also including Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan and Cameroon. The authors of the research emphasized that Russia’s anti-corruption effort was, in their view “chaotic and irresolute.”

Top Russian officials have repeatedly criticized the TI’s approach as biased and politicized. The head of the Presidential Administration, Sergey Ivanov, said that he was “extremely skeptical” about the 2014 index, adding “ratings can be drawn by anyone.” At the same time, Ivanov noted the authorities were closely following serious sociological agencies, including foreign and international organizations.

One such agency is Ernst&Young, which lowered corruption risks in Russia in 2014 and put it below average world levels.

RT                                   April 20, 2015

 
EurActiv:Ukraine crisis, anti-corruption drive, boost Romanian energy reform

Ukraine in crisis (image: http://one-europe.info/)

Recent investigations of “smart guys” contracts have helped reduce corruption within the Romanian energy sector, and have accelerated the country’s market liberalisation, at a time when the Ukraine crisis has forced Bucharest to assume a more important role in region, EurActiv Romania reports.

The Romanian energy sector has undergone important changes in recent years. Through consistent judicial and legislative efforts, both the fight against corruption and the legal framework regulating the sector have greatly improved.

A 2014 report of independent think tank Expert Forum notes that with the adoption of new legislation in 2012, the Regulatory Authority for Energy has become more independent of political pressure, and that some of its activities have become more transparent. The report contends that there still remains a need to increase the transparency and quality of the Authority's actions, though, as well to tackle remaining corruption issues.

Market liberalization

As an EU member, Romania had to start the process of liberalising its energy sector. Almost immediately, Romanians were confronted with predictions of higher prices. The government subsequently postponed the process.

Asked by EurActiv Romania to comment on what an open gas market will mean for Romanians, Expert Forum analyst Otilia Nu?u said that gas consumers should be able to switch suppliers.

Romanians do not understand is that they are not required to purchase energy exclusively from the company that manages the distribution grids (EON or GDF), Nu?u explained.

She added that customers would be able to purchase from any of the 120 suppliers in the market, and that the distribution companies managed by EON and GDF will be required to ensure access to gas from suppliers, at regulated distribution tariffs.
What is needed is a well-designed social safety net, where the government can provide targeted income support for consumers who are too poor to afford price increases.
Romanians must also change their understanding of consumer protection. It does not mean "cheap gas", but affordable energy, of good quality, without unexpected interruptions, with information about what is supplied.

Vulnerable consumers

A key element Romania's energy strategy concerns the protection of vulnerable consumers from fluctuating prices. As the European debate on the Energy Union picks up momentum, many suggest that Romania should use its own natural resources, an advantage which gives its significant breathing room to assume a more forceful role in promoting the issue.

During a recent debate on the Energy Union organized by the European Parliament's Information Office in Romania, Victor Bo?tinaru, MEP and vice-chair of the S&D group, noted that despite being rich in energy resources, Romania has had a small presence in the overall European debate. He argued that finding a solution for vulnerable consumers needs to become a priority.

The same problem was highlighted by the former Romanian Energy minister, Razvan Nicolescu. During the same event, he noted that Romania should have significant input, as it is a supplier. Nicolescu argued that this leverage should be used to support an EU-wide definition of the vulnerable consumer.

Infrastructure Concerns

Beyond the legislative framework and price rates, an essential problem for Romania's energy sector lies with the state of its transport infrastructure. Although recent improvements have been accomplished, there are many elements that have not yet been addressed.

The ongoing debate over the Energy Union pushes the topic of energy infrastructure further into the spotlight, particularly as the level of funding is not insufficient only in Romania, but at EU level as well.

In this sense, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Adina V?lean (EPP), has drawn attention to the fact that the EU cannot cover the costs of infrastructure development. Participating in the debate on the Energy Union, she encouraged the usage of EU funds in conjunction with other financial mechanisms that can help attract private resources.

Similarly, Otilia Ni?u explained that although some improvements can already be seen, there is great need for better usage of EU funds in Romania.
Romania should be able to export gas, which requires investment for reverse flows on Arad-Szeged (Romania-Hungary), compressors to be able to export to Moldova on Iasi-Ungheni (Romania-Moldova), reverse flows with Ukraine, and an interconnector with Bulgaria on both directions.

Electiricity transmission operator Transelectrica must also invest to better integrate future renewables and export to Moldova. The main challenges are to have good tariff regulations and to make best use of available funding, including from EU, Ni?u said.

Energy security in the region

The situation in Ukraine has raised many concerns and has turned the eyes of Ukrainian officials towards Romania. The country`s important energy resources makes it an important partner for escaping Russia's energy supply monopoly.

In a recent interview with EurActiv.ro, Teofil Bauer the Ukrainian ambassador in Romania, said that Romania's energy sector reforms are very important for his country. “Romania will become an exporter of energy resources, and we, as a neighboring country, are very interested in working with Romania in this field,” Bauer said.
Indeed, Romania has important resources, which could be exploited for the export market. However, some suggest that the country is still far from assuming a key role in the area.

”What concerns us is not the reliance on Romanian gas, but to ensure that we do not rely too much on a single supplier which can abuse market dominance. Romanian gas (Petrom, Romgaz, and the new reserves) must compete with Gazprom. In a few years, the gas that we import from Hungary will no longer be from Gazprom only,” Ni?u said.
Asked to explain what is expected from Romania in the context of the Energy Union, she said that this new initiative of the Union is not much more than a renewed urgency in implementing the Third Energy Package and building a single European energy market.

“Romania has only to gain from the Energy Union. […] Forcing the energy companies to compete means, for example, that "smart guys" contracts (long term contracts for energy from state owned companies to preferred buyers, non-competitively, at below market price) could no longer be renewed. Market liberalisation means that preferred consumers could no longer get energy at regulated prices, or use regulated prices as fake price references to purchase cheap energy from state-owned companies,” Ni?u added.

According to Nitu, the Ukraine crisis has triggered a new sense of urgency to solve longstanding problems. The solution is the faster implementation of the single European energy market, so that countries are better interconnected, and can purchase gas from more sources and routes, she said.

ActMedia                       April 16, 2015

 
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