Arroyo v. Aquino

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo upon her arrival at court to face charges of corruption. / REUTERS

Her voice was soft and yet her defiance staunch.

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, president from 2001 to 2010, told a court that she was not guilty of charges that could put her in prison for life.  Arroyo is accused of rigging elections in the country’s notoriously corrupt southern region, along with a number of other charges.

They are two of the country’s most storied dynasties. President Benigno Aquino III has made “no corruption, no poverty” his rallying cry.  An acquittal for Arroyo would undercut that effort, prove her claims that the charges against her are politically motivated and point to Aquino’s failure to lift the country from a poverty that keeps a third of the nation living on $1 a day.

“Despite the continuous and massive vilification campaign against me and my family, I have always said that I will dispute all charges in the proper forum,” Arroyo said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

Aquino has made anti-corruption a centerpiece of his tenure, which makes this court case a test of his efforts.  In a speech, the president continued on that theme: “It shouldn’t matter if you are a former president or in the lower ranks of public service,” he said. “If you are dishonest, then you must be held to account.”

Sweep to Philippines Arroyo pleads guilty to fraud

Wojchiech Chodan, a dual British-Polish national, got off lightly after pleading in December 2010 of helping his company, KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root), and its partners of paying $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials.

Chodan was sentenced by a federal judge in Houston to one year of unsupervised probation and a $20,000 fine.  His plea bargain will also allow the 74 year-old Chodan to return to the U.K.  Two other KBR officials will also face sentencing later this week. Chodan could have faced up to five years in prison on the charges, and had already agreed to forfeit $726,885 as part of his plea.

So far, five companies have paid the U.S. government a total of $1.7 billion to settle charges stemming from the bribery scheme, according to The Guardian in London.

Next up in the case is KBR’s former CEO, Jack Stanley, who pleaded guilty in 2008 and received a preliminary sentence of 84 months in prison and a restitution payment of $10.8 million.  He has not gone to jail yet and, based on his cooperation in the case, his final sentence is subject to review.

Sweep to British man sentenced in US over bribes to Nigerian government

It’s not quite YouTube. But in Cuba, it is what passes for viral.

Cuban President Raul Castro has been showing videos of bribery confessions by foreign and Cuban businessmen at screenings to senior staff and party officials.  It’s all part of Castro’s drive to cut down on corruption in the Communist outpost in the Caribbean.

So that the videos do not appear in YouTube or on Miami television, the screenings are strictly private and security is tight. Everyone must leave personal belongings at the door, according to Reuters.

Castro’s anti-corruption campaign has resulted in a handful of foreign businessmen and hundreds of government officials ending up in prison. Cuban bagmen and foreign businessmen are seen on the videos confessing their sins and explaining how their corrupt schemes worked. In some instances, they passed cash-stuffed envelopes to government officials. In another, they fabricated phony sales of onions and garlic to the government.

One video, entitled “Metastasis,” shows Castro saying that that corruption must be kept at one’s ankles and never be allowed to rise above one’s nose.

Sweep to Cuban video warns Communists off corruption

Leslie Wayne

Leslie Wayne

Leslie Wayne, former senior editor at 100Reporters, is an award-winning business reporter, formerly at The New York Times. Ms. Wayne joined The Times in 1981 and has covered Wall Street, banking industry regulatory reform, municipal finance scandals and, most recently, the aerospace and military industries. Ms. Wayne has an M.B.A. in finance from Columbia Business School and was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economic Journalism.