A Park for India’s Lowest Caste, Swindled by Pols

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Waiting to vote in Uttar Pradesh, India, February 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
The idea was to develop a series of parks filled with statues and monuments to herald the contribution of daits, the lowest Hindu caste, in the poverty-stricken northern state of Uttar Pradesh in India.

Instead, it has turned into yet another symbol of the massive corruption scandals that have rocked India in the last few years. In this case, the corruption took place in one of India’s poorest states, where malnutrition, suffering and disease are rampant.

Associated Press reports that Indian authorities are looking into whether the billion-dollar project was just another plot to line the pockets of the elites. Authorities allege that millions of dollars that were supposed to pay for new statues and monuments to the contributions of the poor instead were misappropriated by the region’s former Chief Minister Mayawati, who goes by only one name.

Dozens of larger-than-life statues of elephants cost $15 million, or more than $115,000 each. Meanwhile, the artisans were only paid about one-tenth of that, according to police quoted by the Associated Press. Buildings and walls were repeatedly built, torn down and rebuilt. Trees were planted, uprooted and then thrown away. This all points to the possible misappropriation of funds.

Then there is the larger question:  Why, in such a poor region, where the human needs are so obvious, was such a project undertaken in the first place?

Sweep to India state to probe corruption in low-caste parks

It was a nice life while he had it.

The public has finally gotten a glimpse of the lavish life of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, who was convicted last large on 37 different corruption counts and is now being held in federal prison while he awaits sentencing.

A federal judge released more than 3,000 documents — some but not all of the evidence against Dimora. Photos show Dimora living large in Las Vegas casinos, including hanging out at the Mirage Hotel Bare Pool and dining at the Prime Steakhouse, courtesy of a local contractor.

Money that prosecutors said Dimora took in bribes paid for granite countertops, landscaping and an elaborate covered backyard patio at his home.

Let’s not also forget about a $1,100 refrigerator, a Rolex watch and multiple limousine trips that were all part of the released evidence.  Since he is headed to prison, Dimora will now be housed courtesy of the government — another form of using “other people’s money.” It’s hard to imagine, however, that his new housing will come with such lush amenities.

Sweep to Corruption Trial Evidence Shows Dimora’s Lavish Lifestyle

So what does Donald Trump, never one to mince words, say about American anti-bribery laws?

In a morning appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box this week, Trump called the law “crazy” and said the United States has no business being the “policeman of the world.”

Trump, colorful, opinionated and full of self-promotion, weighed in on the recent scandal involving alleged secret payments by Wal-Mart to Mexican officials and a subsequent cover-up.

While human rights watchers and corporate governance experts have been praising the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars companies doing business in the United States from bribing foreign officials, Trump came out with a full-throated attack. He said that the U.S. should not be prosecuting Americans doing business abroad who adopt the local practices, which can often include bribery and under-the-table payments.

“This country is absolutely crazy,” said Trump.  “They prosecute people for going over to China and Mexico and other countries and getting business and creating jobs in this country.”

“We are like the policeman for the world,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Trump even went so far as to call for the FCPA law to be repealed. “Let Mexico or let China or let these other countries prosecute. Why are we prosecuting to keep China honest?”

“Every other country goes to these places and they do what they have to do,” he added.

Sweep to Trump Slams FCPA Law

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.

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