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Bribes and back doors

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Transparency Int'l

Good news is often unexpected.

Yesterday, the public prosecutor in Frankfurt, Germany announced that two members of Germany’s governing parties will finally be investigated for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for helping whitewash the reputation of Azerbaijan’s authoritarian government.

Karin Strenz and Eduard Lintner are being probed over their role in the Azerbaijani Laundromat scandal exposed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in September 2017. Investigative reporters found that Azerbaijan’s ruling elite used a slush fund of US$2.9 billion to bribe politicians across Europe.

Last year, Transparency Germany submitted a criminal complaint about the German politicians, which one of them dubbed a “PR comedy”. We don’t think this is funny but are curious to see who has the last laugh, and if authorities elsewhere in Europe will finally take action.

Sky-high fines

In another case of cross-border corruption, an investigation just ended with one of the highest corporate settlements related to bribery. European planemaker Airbus has agreed to pay close to US$4 billion to authorities in France, the UK and the US, after a years-long inquiry into (self-reported) corruption and bribery.

Block the revolving doors

In Malta, politicians who recently resigned over the shockingly mishandled investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia stepped straight into fresh scandals this week. Former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi received a lucrative public contract as a tourism consultant. After massive public outcry, it was retracted on Tuesday.

Ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat, however, has already met with his successor (and fellow party member) in his new role as lobbyist for a private healthcare company — just weeks after quitting office.

What do you think? Let us know @anticorruption.

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