When Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev in February, the Ukrainian leader left behind a spectacular Swiss chalet-style mansion, a golf course, dozens of antique cars and a private zoo boasting $10,000 nameplates for the animal pens. Even the Ukrainian public, painfully familiar with the corruption of its leaders, was shocked. Yanukovych had managed to keep the chalet hidden because it was owned not by him but by an anonymous shell company registered in Britain. Other corrupt leaders have used the same trick to hide billions of dollars offshore, including through companies registered in the United States.
The rise and fall of Ukraine’s top kleptocrat teaches us a couple of things about corruption.… Seguir leyendo »
Four days after the Tunisian people overthrew their dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the Swiss government ordered its banks to seize Ben Ali’s suspiciously acquired funds. A few days after that, the European Union froze Ben Ali’s assets in Europe.
This month, the same day that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was deposed, the Swiss government asked its banks to identify and block any assets belonging to Mubarak, who reportedly accumulated a multibillion-dollar fortune over his 30-year reign even though his presidential salary was about $800 a month. Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey said: “It cannot be that right at our door some people embezzle state funds and put them into their own pocket.”
Hooray for Switzerland!… Seguir leyendo »
“If you had to choose between saving a girl’s life or enabling her to go to school, which would you do first?” This was Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s reply when I asked him last month if the rights of Afghan women might be sacrificed for a peace settlement with the Taliban.
While real peace talks may not begin for a long time, it was clear to me on a recent trip to Kabul that the political and intellectual groundwork is being laid for “reconciliation” with insurgents. Karzai seems tired of the war’s carnage and uncertain of the international community’s staying power.… Seguir leyendo »