Reports from the BBC and the Straits Times say the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying once again to get rid of secret accounts held by local officials. Known as “little coffers,” the money is skimmed from public funds. The CCP directed party and government officials to disclose the accounts or face severe punishment. China often imposes the death penalty in major corruption cases.
“The illegal phenomenon has resulted in inaccuracy in accounting, disturbance in market order, losses in state income and property and corruption,” the party said in a document titled “Directions on Deepening the Crackdown of Small Exchequers.”
The “little coffers” have become a big problem lately as government budgets at all levels have grown, increasing opportunities to skim funds. The BBC said “audit reports have often found money that has been spent on apartments, cars and trips abroad for staff, and sometimes disappeared in outright embezzlement.”
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Bourke’s Big Gun. Bloomberg’s David Glovin leads his latest dispatch from the federal courthouse in Manhattan with this: George Mitchell, the ex-Democratic Senate majority leader and President Barack Obama’s envoy to the Middle East, is set to testify [Friday] as part of Connecticut entrepreneur Frederic Bourke’s defense to charges that he helped bribe government leaders in Azerbaijan.
Glovin says Mitchell’s name has come up throughout the trial. He writes, “On the recommendation of Bourke, Mitchell put up $200,000 and became a director of a U.S. company formed by Kozeny. Mitchell, a Maine Democrat who left Congress in 1995, was friends with Bourke, who has a home in Maine.”
Read David Glovin’s reports on the trial for Bloomberg here.
Read all our posts about U.S. v. Kozeny and the prosecution of Frederic Bourke here.
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Jefferson’s #%@&!. The BLT’s Jordan Weissmann filed this report yesterday from William Jefferson’s trial in Alexandria, Virginia:
Jurors listened to a profanity-laced phone call in which Jefferson said he and iGate CEO Vernon Jackson would “end up in the goddamned pokey” if they angered one of the company’s chief investors. During the call, Jackson had suggested replacing Virginia businesswoman Lori Mody, with whom he had a strained relationship. Jackson said he had found a new backer willing to step into her place. Jefferson called the idea “crazy,” adding, “Lori’s going to be filing suits.”
Read all our posts about William Jefferson here.
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We never get tired of spending time with E.B. White. He’s so cheerful, without being chirpy and irritating. Like this passage from his 1971 essay, “The Winter of the Great Snows:”
“For a while, the barnyard fence was buried under a magnificent drift. This delighted the geese, who promptly walked to freedom on their orange-colored snowshoes. They then took off into the air, snowshoes and all, freedom having gone to their heads, and visited the trout pond, where they spent an enjoyable morning on the ice. On several occasions this winter, we had to shovel a path for the geese, to make it possible for them to get from their pen in the barn to their favorite loitering spot in the barn cellar. Imagine a man’s shoveling a path for a goose! So the goose can loiter!”
From the Essays of E.B. White.
You state: "China often imposes the death penalty in major corruption cases." It is true that China's criminal law (the source of authority for prosecuting criminal bribery cases ) allows for the death penalty to be imposed. The most well-known recent case involved Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of China's equivalent of the FDA, who was executed in 2007. Generally, however, even in cases where large sums are involved, the death penalty is not invoked. An example of this is the fate of Chen Liangyu, former Party Secretary for Shanghai, who was convicted of receiving bribes and who was involved in a major pension fund scandal (making improper loans). Chen was sentenced to 18 years in prison. A key factor in whether to seek the death penalty involves the type of harm that results from the criminal behavior. In Zheng Xiaoyu's case, numerous people died as a result of his falsifying approvals for untested drugs. Despite the range of corrupt and improper conduct engaged in by Chen (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Liangyu), which certainly rose to the level of 'major' corruption, he did not receive the ultimate penalty. Given that the death penalty is typically invoked in major corruption cases only where particularly egregious facts exist, rather than stating, "China often imposes the death penalty in major corruption cases", it would be more accurate in to state "The death penalty can be invoked in serious criminal corruption cases."
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