Tag: corruption

Anti- graft commission to start public hearings on Oct. 11 into allegations of ALP ‘branch stacking’ aired in media reports in 2020

Photo- SAT

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 30 September 2021: The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) will hold public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct involving Victorian public officers, including Members of Parliament. The hearings are part of Operation Watts, a coordinated investigation between IBAC and the Victorian Ombudsman, which is looking into a range of matters including allegations of ‘branch stacking’ aired in media reports in 2020. The hearings will start on Monday, 11 October 2021. A video stream will be broadcast via the ibac website.

The public hearings are likely to summon Labor Right leader Adam Somyurek, reports The Age. Mr. Somyurek was sacked by Premier Daniel Andrews after the 2020 media alligations. Two other Ministers, Mr. Soumyurek’s factional mates, Marlene Kairouz and Robin Scott also quit the cabinet.

According to the ibac website – “The scope and purpose of the public hearings is to investigate:

Whether public officers, including Victorian Members of Parliament, are engaging in corrupt conduct while in public office by directing ministerial and electorate office staff to perform party‐political work during times when those staff are paid from public funds to perform ministerial or electorate work.

Whether public money granted to community associations by the Victorian government has been misused to fund party‐political activities or for other improper purposes and, if so, whether the Ministers or other public officers involved in granting the funds have dishonestly performed their functions as public officers or have knowingly or recklessly breached public trust.

The circumstances surrounding any actual or potential personal benefits obtained by any public officer, their families or their associates, resulting from, or otherwise in connection with the use of ministerial and electorate office staff to perform party‐political work or grants made to community associations.

The systems and controls in place to monitor the expenditure of public funds for ministerial and electorate office staff and the making of community grants and the extent to which organisational culture and practices have fostered that conduct or hindered opportunities or attempts to detect and eliminate that conduct.

The hearings will be presided over by IBAC’s Commissioner The Honourable Robert Redlich AM, QC. Counsel assisting will be Chris Carr SC of the Victorian Bar.

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is encouraged to report it at www.ibac.vic.gov.au/report or phone 1300 735 135.”

QUICK REVIEW: The Panama Papers: How the rich ‘hide & keep’ (Amazon Prime, 2020)


The Panama Papers; Documentary/Drama; 2020; 1h 40m; Director-Writer Alex Winter; Luke Harding, Frederik Obermaier, Bastian Obermayer | See full cast & crew.

MELBOURNE, This gripping and disturbing docu-drama is nothing short of the tale of the biggest ever corruption expose of the world’s rich and powerful by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) team with 376 journalists from different countries. It covered 76 countries and lay bare how a now-infamous legal services company Mossack Fonseca in Panama, helped to set up offshore shell companies to help these prominent global rich people, in avoiding taxes, laundering money, and indulging in financial crimes.

The documents leaked by whistle-blower John Deo (not real name) were a mind-boggling 11.5 million. With the amounts exposed in trillions, one wonders if there is any place for sincere tax-paying people in the world. The docu-drama details every step the ICIJ team takes step by step and the physical risks journalists took for months before the story came out in 2016.

The documentary describes how more and more journalists from around the globe joined in the probe and keeping the operation a secret became tough. For those investigating is was ‘shut up and encrypt”.When the process of taking counters for the story started the perpetrators tried their best to halt the expose. But that did not happen and the cat was soon out of the bag.

So many financial to political global biggies were exposed and heads started rolling. This included Prime Ministers, politicians, and business people. To know the names and countries, one should see the documentary and grapple with the fact that the amounts involved here were – 1 % world’s rich and powerful equal to the rest of the world. Maybe, there is much more. Or, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

It goes to the credit of the journalists team with ICIJ who risked their lives (one in Malta lost it in a car bomb explosion) and showed this rather tough story the light of the day. Many of the brave-journalists are interviewed and one can see the tension and excitement emerging as the story progressed.

One thing, the documentary does not clearly tell how the money hiding game takes place or why the world’s famous capitals remain the biggest centers of illegal money in the world despite the smaller tax-heavens being there. Or, is that’s how capitalism works? As the documentary indicates the system (capitalism) is ‘economic slavery’. Looks, quite ‘Marxist’? Will the world ever accept Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital’?

No doubt, kudos to John Deo (?), all journalists, ICIJ for this insight into the underbelly of international finance. It was not easy but it happened. I wish this documentary be dubbed in all prominent languages of the world and shown to the ‘the rest of the world’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has, somehow, diverted this issue but, I suspect, things will soon be as they were. The 1 % will or have found new ways in a chaotic world.

‘The Panama Papers’ is a must-see. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Pro-Anna anti-graft rally in Melbourne

Anti-corruption rally in Melbourne supports Anna fast. PHOTO: Neeraj Nanda/SAT

By our correspondent

Melbourne, 21 Aug., 2011: Hundreds of Indians including students today held a solidarity rally here in support of the anti-corruption movement in India. Waving the Indian flag and singing ‘Hum honge kamyab ek din…’, they supported the fasting Gandhian Anna Hazare’s fast for a Lok Pal in Delhi.
Carrying banners and Indian flags the gathering shouted slogans in support for establishing a Lok Pal in India. The crowd was joined by many from different communities who had come to the Federation Square to enjoy a sunny day. Some Indian tourists joined in and later the gathering ended with the Indian national anthem.

Of integrity and integrated corruption

By Prabhat Shunglu

New Delhi: “I come from a poor family. The only asset I possess is integrity.” This was the Chief Justice of India (CJI) S H Kapadia in his reply to congratulatory letter sent by former well-known judge V R Krishna Iyer on his appointment as CJI. So, when the legality of the appointment of former Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas came up before the Supreme Court bench of CJI Kapadia the pundits and the skeptics were equally sure Thomas’s stay as CVC was going to be short-lived. A corruption case going back to the 90s was pending against Thomas in the trial court. The Supreme Court stressed Mr Thomas cannot be in charge of anti-corruption Commission when his own integrity is being questioned. “The touchstone for the appointment of the CVC is the institutional integrity as well as the personal integrity of the candidate,” the court observed.

Amidst a heap of corruption charges piling up at the UPA governments door the Supreme Court’soverruling of the executive decision not only multiplied government’s woes, boxed in by an unforgiving opposition, it has left the executive red in the face for what it considers a clear caseof Supreme Court ‘over-stepping’ its jurisdiction. In fact the first murmur of executive protest wasrecording during the hearing of the case itself when the government argued that since the post of the CVC was a constitutional one the court is not entitled to review the appointment. The court turned the argument aside saying the government may not be accountable to the court for its policy decisions it sure is accountable for the legality of those decisions.

Outside the court, even as the CVC case was on, the government did not spare any opportunity to hold out veiled warning to the judiciary against transgressing its limits. At the Commonwealth Law Conference in Hyderabad the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: While the power of judicial review must be used to enforce accountability, it must never be used to erode the legitimate growth assigned to other branches of the government.

There is a healthy respect by the executive towards the judiciary and vice versa until such times or cases when judiciary seeks or has sought to question or review the government’s intent or policy decisions as was cogently displayed in the case of CVC legal battle. It is in such times the government recoils in fear accusing judiciary of usurping the executive space. This gives space for sabre-rattling by both sides. The government through its omni-potent propaganda machinery is almost always the winner telling whoever could listen that judicial ‘activism’ needed to be curbed.

The government, at such times, point out to the judiciary to look inwards and clear its own mess of corruption and judicial impropriety. The impeachment motion being brought against Justice Ramaswamy in 1993 is a case in point. And now the impending impeachment against Kolkata High Court judge Soumitra Sen has served enough grist to the government machinery to discreetly but surely take on the judiciary.

That the judiciary has not been able to avoid the taint of corruption shall remain as much a point of concern as corruption in the executive. Cases of impropriety in higher judiciary shakes the confidence of the common man for whom courts are still the last post of justice in the face of an inept administration which fails to deliver on crucial counts of governance. But one can always draw comfort in the fact that cases of judicial impropriety have been few and far between at least in the higher judiciary. Going by the unprecedented wave of litigations in public interest past two decades it can also be safely deduced people’s faith in judiciary remains undiminished. From delivering

criminal justice as in the case of Jessica Lal and Nitish Katara murder cases to reinterpreting Right to Life as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution or filling the legal void for patients in vegetative state making a plea for passive euthanasia or underlining environmental concerns in the face of growing awareness of global climate change or red-flagging executive or bureaucratic corruption, the judiciary by and large has delivered on the count of inclusive growth.

Interestingly, the government that melodramatically harps on the maxim of ‘inclusive growth’ and treading that extra mile for that last man in the row, the very idea of being over-ruled by the judiciary on the legitimate question of integrity gives them cramps. The message for the common man is clear: don’t expect executive to set precedent of top-down integrity and scruples.

Therefore the government can afford ignore the voice of civil society when it raises concerns over the draft of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill. ( The Indian Lokpal shall be synonymous to the institution of Ombudsman in Scandinavian countries ) The Lokpal Bill, 2010, which awaits a select parliamentary committee’s nod, provides for filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister, minister, ministers and MPs with the Lokpal or the Ombudsman. The Lokpal Bill as drafted by the government places the appointment of the Lokpal in the hands of the executive. “How can those who have corrupted the system be entrusted to draft anti-corruption laws,” asks eminent social activist and Gandhian Anna Hazare. He has threatened to go on a fast-unto-death from April 5 should the government failed to rope in members of the civil society in re-drafting the bill by march-end.

Anna and like-minded people from the civil society including Magsasay Award winners, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and the first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, and a few legal luminaries and social activists have in consultation with a wide swath of public drafted a separate bill which they have termed the Jan Lokpal Bill or the Public Ombudsman Bill. Among the many suggestions the Jan Lokpal Bill envisages folding up the investigation in a year’s time. The trial shall be completed in the next 12 months so that the guilty gets punished within two years.

“Even if I have to give up my life to see that the Bill is passed I will not hesitate,” proclaims Anna. A 72-year-old can dare take recourse to Gandhian ways to achieve his objective in national interest just as the Mahatma undertook Satyagraha ( Truth with Firmness – Gandhi’s chief home-spun and non-violent piece de resistance against the British might ) in the course of his life spent in the cause of India’s independence. It shall be an interesting study whether the legacy of Gandhi lives on to temper the ‘compulsions’ of governance by coalition, where the flock is integrated by corruption but integrity is the primary casualty.
Source: SAT, March 2011

INDIA: Now the ‘Mother of All Scams’

By Ranjit Devraj

NEW DELHI, Nov 17 (IPS) – As India is rocked by a series of billion-dollar scams, the question on
everybody’s mind is whether the perpetrators will go scot-free in what has been
described as a low-risk, high-gain activity in this country.

”Corruption has become a disease that is endemic and hard to eradicate,”
says N. Jayaprakash Narayan, a medical doctor and India’s best-known anti-
corruption crusader. “We urgently need corrective treatment rather than
political invective.”

Narayan’s reference was to fierce exchanges between representatives of the
Congress party and the main national opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
over which party was more responsible for breeding corruption, with neither
showing signs of being serious about curbing it. Read more