News headlines for “Democracy”, page 2
Thursday, February 16, 2017
RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 16 (IPS) - People in Brazil have been overwhelmed by the flood of news stories about the huge web of corruption woven by the country's biggest construction company, Odebrecht, which is active in dozens of fields and countries.
The business empire built by three generations of the Odebrecht family is falling apart after three years of investigation by the Lava Jato (car wash) operation launched by the Federal Public Prosecutor's office in Brazil, which is investigating the corruption that diverted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for major public works contracts from the state-run oil giant Petrobras.
Marcelo Odebrecht, who headed the company from 2008 to 2015, was arrested in June 2015 and was initially sentenced to 19 years in prison.
In October he and the company reached plea bargain deals to cooperate with the investigation. A total of 77 former and present Odebrecht executives provided over 900 sworn statements to Lava Jato prosecutors, causing a political earthquake in Brazil and throughout Latin America.
In December, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that Odebrecht allegedly spent 1.04 billion dollars in bribes to politicians and government officials in ten Latin American and two African countries, including Brazil, which accounted for 57.7 per cent of the total.
The United States is carrying out its own investigation, which could end in criminal convictions, since several Odebrecht subsidiaries, such as the petrochemical company Braskem, operate there, and their shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
That is also happening in the case of Petrobras, implicated in the corruption scandal and under investigation at the initiative of shareholders in the U.S.
The U.S. and Switzerland, where banks were allegedly used to funnel bribes or launder money, signed cooperation agreements with legal authorities in Brazil, as part of the ongoing offensive against corruption in Latin America's giant.
The impacts are overwhelming. In Brazil, the revelations about Odebrecht are expected to provoke a tsunami in the political system. Two hundred parliamentarians and government officials may have received bribes, including senior members of the current administration and legislature.
The business group had created a specialised bribe department. According to U.S. justice authorities, every dollar "invested" in bribes produced 12 dollars in contracts.
That estimate is based on more than 100 projects carried out or in progress in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, plus Angola and Mozambique in Africa.
Part of the Caracas valley seen from the San Agustín Metrocable, one of the many works assigned to Odebrecht in Venezuela during the government of Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), when the Brazilian company became the biggest construction firm in the country. Credit: Raúl Límaco/IPS
The arrest warrant issued by a court in Peru against former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), who has been living in the United States, and allegations implicating current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, are just the tip of the iceberg.
What was revealed by Odebrecht executives and former executives, as well as former directors of different departments, such as external affairs, infrastructure, industrial engineering or logistics, has not yet been made public.
New figures involving alleged bribes are expected to come out over the next few months, added to those already disclosed in the United States, including 599 million dollars distributed in Brazil, 98 million in Venezuela, 92 million in the Dominican Republic, 59 million in Panama and 50 million in Angola.
In Peru the total revealed so far is "only" 29 million dollars since 2005. The sum is small, considering that for the Southern Peru pipeline - still under construction – alone, the projected investments amount to seven billion dollars. The Peruvian government has decided to terminate the contract with Odebrecht for the project.
Besides Odebrecht, the Inter-Oceanic Highway, which runs across southern Peru from the Brazilian border to Pacific Ocean ports, is being built by three other Brazilian construction firms - Camargo Correa, Andrade Gutierrez and Queiroz Galvão – which are also under investigation for suspicion of corruption.
During the presidency of Alan Garcia (2006-2011), Peru and Brazil signed an agreement for the construction of five large hydropower plants in Peru, which was cancelled by his successor, Ollanta Humala (2011-2016), who, however, is suspected of receiving three million dollars from Brazil for his election campaign.
Odebrecht, which has a concession to manage Chaglla, the third biggest hydroelectric plant in Peru, with a capacity of 462 MW, was to be the main construction company in charge of building the new plants.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
ROME / BERLIN, Feb 15 (IPS) - Bank regulators need to publish much more information about whether banks are doing what's required by law to stop money laundering, says a major international anti-corruption watchdog.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
ROME/OXFORD, Feb 15 (IPS) - As far back as the 1830s, Algerian Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy was known for having introduced, among others, rules concerning the humane treatment of prisoners, which developed in 1842 into his Code for the Protection of Prisoners.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
LA PAZ, Bolivia, Feb 14 (IPS) - Today, many couples, in many countries will be celebrating Saint Valentine's Day – or ‘El día de los enamorados' (‘Day of Lovers') in some Latin American countries. Whilst a chance to celebrate the spectrum of healthy loving relationships; it is also an important opportunity to highlight a crisis affecting women and girls in every corner of the world - 30% of women will experience physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a current or former partner or husband.
Monday, February 13, 2017
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 13 (IPS) - The global lack of confidence and trust is undermining the ability to solve the world's complex problems, said UN Secretary-General during an international conference.
Monday, February 13, 2017
ROME, Feb 13 (IPS) - Speaking at the opening of the two-day World Government Summit in Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said economic openness is a ground reality.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 11 (IPS) - Is it possible to spend 5.2 billion dollars to clean up a river which is just 64-km-long and get practically no results? Argentina is showing that it is.
Friday, February 10, 2017
GENEVA, Feb 10 (IPS) - The first-ever independent UN expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Thai lawyer Vivit Muntarbhorn, has already begun the process of open and transparent consultations with individuals, social organizations and States, although some of them still object to the mandate.
Friday, February 10, 2017
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 10 (IPS) - What makes a young girl believe she is less intelligent and capable than a boy? And what happens when those children face the ‘hard' subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)? A recent study, ‘Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children's interests' showed that by the age of 6, girls were already less likely than boys to describe their own gender as ‘brilliant', and less likely to join an activity labelled for ‘very, very smart' kids.
Thursday, February 09, 2017
ROME/GENEVA, Feb 09 (IPS) - "The world is in a crisis, not least because governing élites have estranged themselves from the needs and aspirations of ordinary people. This sense of being left behind has lead the latter to rebel against their country's stratified governance," warns a Geneva-based human rights and dialogue centre.
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