African Painting via Markus Reinhart photography

Monday News Muse 25 April 2016

CORRUPTION

ACCORDING to an Indonesian government minister, wives’ demands for ‘material things’ are to blame for government corruption.

The ‘blame it on the wife’ defence still does wonders for dirty politicians: I still remember a year ago when Virginia’s ex-Governor McDonnell was charged with corruption offences. He based much of his defence on the ‘material demands’ that his wife (a co-defendant) was constantly making, which led him, in turn to accept expensive gifts from a business associate. In fact McDonnell subtly suggested that Mrs. McDonnell was unfaithful (“very, very, very friendly” according to one of the ex-Governor’s defence witnesses), and all but accused his wife of being mentally unstable, as if that might explain his graft. In the memorable words of one journalist, the former Governor ‘didn’t just throw his wife under a bus, he laid her gently down in the middle of the road with a pillow under her head.’ Sadly for the former Governor, no one bought the ‘Mrs. Macbeth’ argument and he went to prison.

EX-SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki expressed frustration that a decade old scandal over arms purchases was still being used to taint his legacy.

THE Afghan President creates a new anti-corruption agency.

A FASCINATING discussion about whether the children of corrupt/brutal rulers owe a duty to acknowledge and apologise for the sins of their parent(s). Sadly, Africa has already been here before- Mobutu’s son has been an active Congolese politician. I think he was even a vice president at some point- yet no apology for the embarrassment of Papa Mobutu’s decades-long kleptocracy. Closer to home, Moi’s sons (also politically active; one of them’s a Senator) haven’t even approached a hint of an apology. The surprise is that President Kenyatta- notoriously prickly about personal criticism and perceived slights against his dignity- actually stepped up and made an apology about past injustices. In Parliament no less. This apology included those wrongs committed during his father’s Presidency. Ok, it may have been rather vague as to who was to blame for those wrongs, but hey, at this point Kenyans will take what they can get. And it actually briefly made him more popular.

So my message to Keiko Fujimori (daughter of former Peruvian kleptocrat Alberto Fujimori) and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (son of former Pilipino kleptocrat Ferdinand Marcos), if ever you win power in your respective countries, take heart from Kenyatta Jr. and say “yes we can” to apologising for your parents’ misrule.

CRIMINAL LAW

DESPITE the best attempts of cynical African leaders, the ICC remains active on the continent- the Prosecutor is about to commence a preliminary investigation of the situation in that country- especially the killings and disappearances that forced thousands to flee to neighbouring Tanzania, Rwanda and DRC.

MORE voices are being raised against a constitutional amendment bill that extends the Presidential immunities from prosecution to the Deputy President without at the same time allowing his impeachment.

A SOUTH African lays out the issues that prevent the ‘rape culture’ from being uprooted: factors include deep-seated machismo, a justice system unfriendly to victims and failure to appreciate that rape occurs in a multitude of different contexts: in the words of the writer, it’s not always “chasing a stranger into the veldt, raping and murdering her”

South Africans Protesting against high levels of sexual violence. Courtesy of africacheck.org

WHILE on the subject, an Indian legal blogger makes a strong plea for making marital rape a crime. We, in Kenya, have a similarly odd situation where rape in any other setting than matrimony is clearly recognised as such and punished harshly (with mandatory minimum sentences).

We even recognise forms of domestic abuse such as ‘economic abuse’ and ‘emotional, verbal and psychological abuse’ (Protection From Domestic Violence Act 2015, s.2). But a sneaky little provision in s.43(5) of the Sexual Offences Act has the effect that a married man cannot ‘intentionally and unlawfully’ sexually penetrate his wife. Yet it is part of the definition of rape in Kenya that the conduct must be ‘intentional and unlawful’- hence why no matrimonial rape offence.

IN  matters of international law, this writer discusses the criminalisation of aggression- which is typically seen as wrong by one state against another, whereas the criminal law usually focuses on wrongs  by a person (or body of people) against another person. The author challenges this account in order to support a more plausible moral justification for creating a crime of aggression.

 SENTENCING

 A NUMBER of British lawyers are concerned about possible attempts increase the incentive to plead guilty as early as possible in order to receive credit at sentencing. One of the problems, as they see it is the trend of prosecutors giving less and less information before trial, making it difficult for defence lawyers to give advice at the earliest possible opportunity about a guilty plea.

TWO students, inspired by Islamic State (Daesh), were sentenced to life imprisonment for planning a drive-by style shooting of UK police or servicemen. Each will serve a minimum of around 20 years for conspiracy to murder and preparation of acts of terrorism.

While it’s clear that they were planning horrible crimes, I can’t help wondering whether the sentencer got it right: especially when an actual brutal murderer is being sentenced on the same scale (life with a minimum of 20 years). To put it another way, the culpability of the two would-be terrorists was high given that they did intend violent crimes with possibly multiple victims, and the risk of serious harm had they succeeded was equally high- but no harm actually happened. Shouldn’t the highest sentences usually be reserved for conduct resulting in actual serious harm? Perhaps the comparatively high sentence for conspiracy and ‘preparation’ reflects the increasing public concern and public interest in deterring copy-cat terror attacks in these days of Daesh.

MONEY LAUNDERING

 TWO UK men failed to have their money laundering convictions quashed. They allegedly moved £35 million (a whopping Ksh.4.9 billion) in drug money through registered companies that had no employees and paid no tax.

BRAZIL managed to get back nearly $125 million (Ksh.12.6 billion) from funds misappropriated through the Petrobras corruption scandal that threatens to destroy Dilma Rousseff’s presidency. The money was laundered overseas, but a mutual legal assistance agreement with Switzerland made it easier to trace and recover the money.

IN CASE you think the $81 million Bangladesh Bank heist was a fluke- here’s a fraud examiner to explain how meticulous the conspirators may have been in planning over nearly 6 years. The suspects understood that the Phillipines had a weak point in its AML infrastructure- casinos. They were not subject to the same rigorous checks and systems as financial and designated non-financial bodies usually are. And then, the part of the heist that almost has you admiring the criminals’ Ocean’s 11- type style:-

“The hackers took advantage of the difference in time zones to find the perfect window to send the funds on Feb. 5 to four accounts with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) that were opened using fictitious identities.

The payment orders were made at 12:51 p.m. in New York and received in the Philippines at 2:51 a.m. Friday, leaving no time that day for authorities in Bangladesh — which is 10 hours ahead of New York — to immediately block the transfers as the country follows a Sunday-Thursday work week.”

Someone in Hollywood should be considering a movie about this: a Bangladeshi Bank robbed via New York’s Federal Reserve using the SWIFT system through a hack perfectly choreographed over several time zones and different countries’ working weeks; and the money distributed to Pilipino banks and casinos (helped by a bank manager falsely claimed to be communing with a fictitious account-holder) before the Bangladeshi victims even had time to cry “stop, thief!”.


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