Great words from Ellen Podgor at the White Collar Crime Prof Blog (here). They’re about Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision this week to drop the prosecution of former Senator Ted Stevens: This dismissal is monumental in terms of sending a message that this justice department will be very different. Many years ago a group of AGs signed an amicus brief in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright advocating for the defendant. They wanted a fair fight in court, and recognized the importance of the right to counsel to achieving justice. What happened today is on par with what happened back then. It is a recognition that prosecutors are not merely advocates, but rather “ministers of justice.” Today an Attorney General took the side of justice.
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When a Chinese provincial official was asked earlier this year if he would support an anti-graft law encouraging office-holders to disclose their wealth, he answered, “No. If that’s the case, why don’t citizens declare their assets.” Well, that’s what they’re doing. The first was a high school teacher in Zhejiang Province. Chen Yong’s disclosure appeared on two of China’s most popular online forums.
Chen listed his assets as a small farmhouse built by his parents worth $25,00, his life savings of about $10,000, and stocks worth about $500 that he said had lost 60% of their value. Taking a shot at philandering corrupt officials, Chen said he only had “one girlfriend, no mistresses or lovers.” Now others are following his lead all over Chinese cyberspace. A comment on one site said, “We’ve taken up the challenge and disclosed our assets, now it’s your turn.” (Source: The Straits Times, Singapore, March 28, 2009).
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In a February post here, we wondered if evidence might emerge that Allen Stanford violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He hasn’t been charged by U.S. authorities with any criminal offenses, but his cosy relationships with Antigua’s rulers at least created some blatant conflicts of interest for the regulation of his offshore banks.
Now comes news that the number 2 executive in Stanford’s commercial empire is cooperating in the federal criminal investigation. As the law blog’s Ashby Jones perfectly put it, “Could this be an uh-oh moment for R. Allen Stanford?” The executive, James Davis, is “fully cooperating with the federal investigations,” according to his lawyer. He was a director and chief financial officer of both Stanford Financial and Stanford International Bank, based in Antigua.
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And staying in the Caribbean, this April 1, 2009 report from the U.K.’s Times :
“Michael Misick, the previous Premier of the Turks and Caicos, announced his intention to step down just hours after reports last month that London might seize control of the islands over concern at the allegations of corruption. He is alleged to have built up a multi-million dollar fortune since he was elected in 2003, with a series of loans from banks based in the tax haven and from deals with property developers for land owned by the Crown. Mr. Misick, 43, who condemned the plan to strip the territory of its independence, is at the center of allegations that he and his now estranged wife, the American actress LisaRaye McCoy Misick, lived a celebrity lifestyle far beyond his salary as premier.”
As we said in a post here, whether past violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption laws might be found by investigators after the British take direct control of the government is an open question.