Wednesday News Wall 27 July 2016


A FORMER Chinese government official is facing the death penalty relating to charges of embezzling 350 million yuan (around $52 million) from poor farm workers through a real estate scam.

IN ANOTHER Chinese corruption trial, a former general was sentenced to life in prison, stripped of his rank and deprived of political rights in a trial that was closed to the public. The ex-general apparently escaped the death penalty because he confessed, repented and restituted the proceeds of his crimes.

HERE is a look at whether legislative immunity hinders the fight against corruption in politics. The author looks at different forms of immunity across Europe and America.

KENYA is still struggling to recover the proceeds of public assets misappropriated during over 20 years ago during the reign of President Daniel arap Moi.

THE Economist undertakes to explain how Nigeria is fighting corruption. While it will take time to see if the criminal graft cases launched will bear fruit, certain measures like demanding transparency from cash-strapped state governors demanding federal bailouts or having a treasury single account may yield some quicker, tangible fruits in protecting public revenue from would-be looters.


Kenya is looking to introduce a cyber-crimes law fairly soon. They may take heed from Nova Scotia’s cyber-bullying law which was struck down for violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The drafters need to strike a constitutional balance between the rights of security of the person, privacy and personal dignity and the rights to fair trial and free speech. Currently members of the International society for the Reform of Criminal Law are meeting in Canada to discuss cyber-crime and the balancing act with human rights.

A KENYAN County Commissioner seemed to admit that the government was conducting extra-judicial murders in Mombasa. He justified it as a prophylactic against election violence in 2017.

MORE Kenyan schools went up in flames as the school-fire season warms up. Five were set ablaze last night. The suspected arsonist are yet to be identified.

TWO  prominent Tanzanian businessmen are facing 223 counts of conspiracy, forgery, money laundering, evading tax and occasioning loss of over 14bn/- (about $6.4 million).


HAVING pointed out earlier (in the section on corruption) that a convict in China can be stripped of ‘political’ rights upon conviction, it’s interesting to see a US Governor trying to do the opposite and restore the voting rights of nearly 200,000 ex-felons. The Virginia Supreme Court stopped him from doing it in one fell swoop- arguing that this was not how the clemency power is intended to work- rather he has to review each case and its worthiness one-by-one.

ANOTHER US state- Missouri- is trying to cut down the amount of time it takes to have a criminal conviction expunged to 7 years (for a felony) and 3 years (for a misdemeanor).

THE chairman of the England and Wales parole board is urging the release of thousands of prisoners to ease pressure on the UK’s crowded prisons.


ANOTHER look at the concerns of Caribbean states that de-risking and the withdrawal of correspondent banking services is an over-reaction to the problems of money-laundering in the area.

IN A ruling (read it here) that could be important to bitcoin users and traders world-wide, a Florida court judge decided that bitcoin was not money and thus could not be treated as such under money laundering laws.

However, other jurisdictions and regulators have already held that bitcoin can be treated as a currency (for purposes of VAT exemption on bitcoin exchange transactions), commodity (for purposes of regulating trade in derivatives) or property (again for tax purposes). Given this history and precedent, it’s hard to agree with her that bitcoin could in anyway be exempted from AML laws given that in the case in question, it was simply an instrumentality (like exchanging cash for poker chips in casino-based money laundering) for laundering the proceeds of credit card fraud. As one digital currency expert put it– bitcoin is a computer protocol: if it is used as money, it should be regulated as money, if it is used as a commodity it should be regulated as such and if it is used as property (or a store of value) then the same rule applies.

Perhaps it’s the particular way that Floridian laws have been drafted that led the judge to her ruling. Perhaps, as the judge explained, the principle of strict construction of criminal laws and her doubts about the legal status of bitcoin lead to her giving the benefit of that doubt to the defendant. But no doubt the decision- and similar ones in other states and other countries- will soon find its way to an appellate court.

INDEED to illustrate the point that the central difficulty is not in classifying bitcoin but in gaining information about criminals who are using the crypto-currency, the EU is currently seeking to create a centralised database of bitcoin users and transactions.