Corruption

Below is a letter I received from a journalist but the names have been changed for protection. Since a picture  is worth a thousand words as says the proverb, therefore only a picture was sent as a reply.  You can see it by pressing here. For those with an interest in the magnitude of the subject see the article below "Corruption goes global in big way," which appeared in USA Today of May 5, 1997

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"Farhad Sepahbody,

My name is John Doe. I have been writing the stories about "XYZ" Corporation. My editor, Mr. "so-and-so," today dropped off the letter you sent to him. I intend to write a story next week about a troubling trend I have noticed in this case. Many of the people who have been calling my office to comment on "Mr. X " have been using ethnic slurs such as "camel jockey" and "rug salesman." Today I received a supposedly humous fax entitled: "Mr. X's Used Camels." Even one of my editors suggested that since bribery is common in Iran we couldn't hold  "X " to the same standard as other American businessmen. My story will discuss the racism shown by these comments and ask whether these people would have felt different if he was a  "---- " with northern European ancestors. Do you have any desire to comment, for print, on this story? If not, could you suggest someone who might? Either send me an email or call on Monday."

Signed : "John Doe:


Corruption goes global in big way

Italians call it tangenti. In Spanish, it's soborno, or mordido. In Russian, bezpredel. And in Chinese, fu bai. In English, the word is corruption, and as is all too obvious from its foreign language equivalents, influence-buying is not restricted to scandal- tinged Washington. In fact, corruption is becoming more prevalent and pernicious as authoritarian regimes crumble and new democratic institutions struggle to take hold.

Corruption is on the rise in tandem with organized crime, which is increasingly going global. National security adviser SandyBerger lists combating transnational crime third on a list of five foreign policy priorities, after expanding NATO and bettering relations with Asia. Corruption is as old as Eve and as new as last year's U.S. presidential campaign. When stories broke that contributors to the Democratic Party secured a night in the Lincoln Bedroom for $100,000, many foreigners were appalled - that access to a U.S. president had come so cheap.

In South Korea, former presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo are serving long sentences for amassing bribes worth $240 million and $300 million, respectively. In Zaire, President Mobutu Sese Seko, his 32-year rule nearing a finale, has earned the sobriquet kleptocrat of all times for pilfering billions. Where governments are relatively strong, individuals and businesses seek favors in return for bribes. But increasingly, governments are weak. Former police states are turning into gangster states as organized criminals become so technologically sophisticated and wealthy that they overwhelm legitimate authority.

The list of countries without governments worthy of the name is growing. It now includes Afghanistan, Albania, Colombia,Nigeria and much of the rest of West Africa, Zaire in central Africa, St. Kitts and Antigua in the Caribbean and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In a new book, The Coming War, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), describes a criminal axis of the Italian mafia, Russian gangsters, Japanese yakuza, Chinese gangs and Colombian drug cartels. "In strategy, sophistication and reach, the criminal organizations of the late 20th century function like transnational corporations and make the gangs of the past look like mom-and-pop operations," he writes.

Distinctions between gifts, commissions and bribes have historically been murky. But the legal concept of a bribe as "a gift that perverts judgment" has been with us since 15th century B.C. Egypt, writes John Noonan in his book, Bribes. The United States has always had a harsh view of corruption. Apart from treason, bribery is the only crime cited by name in the Constitution. But abuses were rife in the past. In 1853, Sen. John Hale of New Hampshire called Washington "a great fountain of filth."

Less corrupt now, the United States has little reason for complacency. Just across the border in Mexico, law enforcement is so tainted that the government Friday scrapped its main anti-drug agency. Mexico City, where President Clinton travels today, is said to be one of the world's more lawless capitals, plagued by kidnappings, bank holdups and assaults on taxi passengers.

Even more worrisome is Russia, a nuclear power. At a March hearing, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, quoted Russian authorities as saying that 40% of the economy is controlled by organized crime.

Russia has become a key route for Asian drugs destined for western Europe. The trafficking has spawned a big money-laundering business. In 1982, the Soviet Union had four banks, all closely regulated, says the Vienna-based U.N.International Drug Control Program. In 1995, Russia had 3,000 banks, 25% gangster-controlled. Russian gangs are also increasingly active in the USA. "Los Angeles, Miami and New York are among several U.S. cities where 26 Russian organizations are basing their drug trade, prostitution rings and extortion, fraud and counterfeiting operations," McConnell says. In one case, drug traffickers tried to buy a Russian submarine to move cocaine from South America to Florida, FBI director Louis Freeh told McConnell's committee.

China, on the verge of becoming the major power in Asia, is another law enforcement migraine. Chinese Public Security Bureau officials recently told Roy Godson, head of the National Strategy Information Center, that they are scared China "will go the way of Russia." Payoffs to obtain contracts have long been the rule in China's post-socialist economy. Police told Godson that secret criminal societies called triads, prevalent in pre-communist days, are back in southern Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

U.S. officials also have complained about a rise in piracy - condoned if not supported by Chinese officials - in the South China Sea. A major concern of U.S. businessmen in Hong Kong is that corruption will invade after the island reverts to mainland control July 1. Robert Steele, a former CIA agent who heads Open Source Solutions Inc., says Chinese government-sponsored economic espionage and criminal gangs are now major strategic threats. "The Chinese have graduated from pirating music CDs to data CDs," he says. "The global economy today is much like the Wild West. Governments have lost control."

The Clinton administration recognized the problem two years ago. At the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, the president gave a speech to the General Assembly about these security threats. He signed a presidential decision directive, PDD 42, mandating that U.S. agencies work together to combat global crime. In response, the administration has increased the number of crime-fighting envoys abroad to about 2,000 agents from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs, State Department, Immigration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The FBI has set up an International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, to train police officers from the former Soviet republics. But experts inside and outside government say that not enough is being done. "We haven't seen results yet from PDD 42," Godson says.

The State Department office that coordinates these efforts - the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, commonly known as "Drugs and Thugs" - got only $213 million last year to combat crime and try to inculcate U.S.values of law enforcement, civil society and fair governance abroad.

Jonathan Winer, deputy assistant secretary of State for the bureau, says there must be a paradigm shift in how governments protect their citizens. "We have to create networks of governments to combat networks of criminals," he says. "It took us 70 years to recover from the excesses of the Gilded Age," Winer says. "We've exported our free-market economy without the values that go with it."

By Barbara Slavin, USA TODAY


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