France Lets U.S. Lead in Corruption Fight
New York Times
France has been an early and eager supporter of international anticorruption initiatives. It was among the first to sign the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2000 Anti-Bribery Convention and the 2004 United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and, in 2009, it led an effort by the Group of 20 nations to bring the world’s tax havens to heel. But when it comes to putting words into action, France lags behind other Western countries. In October, a working group of the O.E.C.D. said it was “seriously concerned” by the “lackluster response” by the French authorities.
Mr. Putin has methodically targeted, through charm, cash, and the fanning of historical and ideological embers, the European Union’s weakest links in a campaign to assert influence in some of Europe’s most troubled corners. One clear goal is to break fragile Western unity over the conflict in Ukraine.
Poland will build six watchtowers to survey its 200-kilometre-long border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, border police have said. The six towers will be up to 50 metres (164 feet) high and ready in June for round-the-clock surveillance, the spokeswoman for Poland’s border police told the PAP news agency. Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea, support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and stepped-up military drills have caused unease in the Baltic states and Poland, which lay behind the Iron Curtain a quarter of a century ago.
Ukrainian Leader is Open to a Vote on Regional Power
New York Times
Referring obliquely to Russia and the Russian-backed separatists, he said: “They started an aggression, they went to war, trying to impose federalization with iron and blood. I will not allow this to happen. Ukrainian people will not allow it to happen.” He added: “For those who wish to put forward the thesis of federalization and cast it as a debate, we have the ultimate tool — a referendum. And as to me, I’m ready to hold a referendum on the state structure of Ukraine, if you find it necessary.”
Property Sales Spike Sparks Money Laundering Fears
Business in Vancouver
As affluent Chinese buyers – spurred by relaxed regulations and a lower Canadian dollar – flood into British Columbia’s real estate market, warnings are rising that some cash deals may contravene federal money laundering rules. “There is a significant problem with Chinese officials who are absconding with state funds, and there’s a massive international manhunt,” David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, told an audience at the University of British Columbia on March 31. “China is the No. 1 exporter of hot money in the world,” he added.
The former mayor of the Chinese city of Nanjing was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in jail for corruption, in the latest high-profile case under President Xi Jinping’s much-touted anti-graft drive. Ji Jianye was found guilty of taking 11.3 million yuan ($1.9 million) in bribes from 1999 to 2012, the Yantai Intermediate People’s Court said on its Sina Weibo microblog. Authorities have also confiscated property worth two million yuan ($325,000) from the former mayor, who was nicknamed “Bulldozer Ji” for his relentless promotion of construction projects in his city.
On a sunny morning last May, a member of Harvard’s graduating class received her diploma and prepared to depart from campus as quietly as she had arrived. Xi Mingze—the only child of Xi Jinping, the President of China, and his wife, the celebrity soprano Peng Liyuan—crossed the podium at Adams House, the dorm that housed Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger. She had studied psychology and English and lived under an assumed name, her identity known only to a limited number of faculty and close friends—“less than ten,” according to Kenji Minemura, a correspondent for the Asahi Shimbun, who attended the commencement and wrote about Xi’s experience in America.
In China, 28 officials have been disciplined and one awaits sentencing—all due to one man’s diaries. Authorities in the city of Dezhou, Shandong Province announced on April 2 that the efforts of Zhang Leida had helped them break the case wide open, according to Chinese state media. Zhang, the general manager of Dezhou Fuyuan Biological Starch Co., Ltd—an agricultural food production company—kept detailed records of officials who accepted cash, shopping gift cards, special local products, and other items from him as kickbacks. After Zhang’s 20-odd raw diary entries were published online in November last year, Dezhou’s anti-corruption investigators set up a taskforce to look into these allegations.
The New York Times’ English and Chinese-language websites have been blocked since an October 2012 article about the wealthy family of prime minister Wen Jiabao. But according to employees in the company, outside observers, and mainland Chinese readers, the Times is quietly pursuing a new, aggressive strategy to reach readers in China.
Jailed Rio Tinto Executive Stern Hu Wants Tony Abbott’s Help
Sydney Morning Herald
Stern Hu’s confession of bribery was made after a promise that co-operation with Chinese authorities would directly lead to freedom.