Skip to main content

Investigating magistrate in France and coalition that impeached city mayor in Brazil win anti-corruption prize

Transparency International announces the winners of the second annual TI Integrity Awards and honours four individuals who lost their lives fighting graft

"The Transparency International Integrity Award 2001 has been won by investigating magistrate Eva Joly of France, and by the Public Prosecutor's Office and the people of the city of Londrina in Brazil," announced Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International, the global non-governmental organisation fighting corruption. The awards were presented this evening in a ceremony at Prague Castle to mark the opening of the 10th International Anti-Corruption Conference, which takes place in Prague Congress Centre on 8-11 October.

Investigating magistrate Eva Joly of France has played a vital leadership role in corruption probes that have led to the trial and successful prosecution of former high-ranking politicians as well as major French corporations. Eva Joly, a Norwegian by birth, has been subjected to death threats in the course of her work, including during her seven-year probe in the Elf Aquitaine case, which included investigation of top politicians such as former Foreign Minister Roland Dumas.

In southern Brazil, public prosecutors Bruno Galatti, Cláudio Esteves and Solange Vicentin undertook ground-breaking actions as they led the Public Prosecutor's Office in Londrina, a city of 450,000 in the State of Paraná, in investigating mayor Antonio Belinati. Exceptional public support was mobilised and the mayor was eventually impeached by the City Council on charges of corruption. It is estimated that a total of USD 45 million disappeared during Belinati's term of office. The prosecutors' investigations uncovered irregularities affecting more than 200 procurement procedures, including contracts with non-existent firms that were paid for services that were never performed.

"Through her investigations Eva Joly has taken on a powerful segment of the French elite and is a model to judges at home and abroad. And the city of Londrina has given us an example of how civil society can work effectively with public prosecutors to fight corruption. This is exactly the kind of coalition that Transparency International is promoting around the world," said Eigen.

"Today we are honouring people of extraordinary valour," said Virginia Tsouderous, chair of TI's national chapter in Greece, who has presided over TI's Integrity Awards Committee. "We received nominations from many countries, but our 2001 winners stood out for their exceptional determination to use the public offices entrusted to them to fight corruption, even when they found bribery taking place at the highest levels in government."

Virginia Tsouderous added: "The TI Awards Committee also agreed to honour four individuals who have lost their lives as a result of their tenacious efforts to root out corruption. They are Carlos Alberto Cardoso, an investigative journalist in Mozambique; Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento, a Colombian politician and anti-corruption advocate; Georgy Gongadze, an outspoken Ukrainian journalist and government critic; and Norbert Zongo, an investigative journalist from Burkina Faso."

Transparency International launched the annual global prize last year, when the winners came from Argentina, Morocco, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Peter Eigen said: "The winners each year highlight the great efforts by so many people across the world to make governments publicly accountable and to expose the crime of corruption. We need to understand the courage of so many people, from determined prosecutors and investigative journalists, to whistleblowers who risks their lives and their jobs, to civil society organisations working at the grassroots level.

Integrity Award 2001 winner

Eva Joly (France)

Eva Joly has been an investigating magistrate for seven years. A Norwegian by birth, she came to France three decades ago. Her legal career started in relative obscurity as an assistant to the public prosecutor in the provincial town of Orléans. After working for a time in the ministry of finance where she handled bankruptcies. Joly rejoined the magistrature, focusing on financial crime. Although her office was severely under-resourced, she started investigating high-profile cases such as the state-owned Crédit Lyonnais, which had incurred staggering losses of billions of dollars through mismanagement.

Eva Joly was propelled into the limelight by her seven-year investigation of the Elf Aquitaine oil company scandal, which involved corruption at the highest levels of business and political life in France. In the course of this and other high-profiled investigations, Joly has been subjected to intimidation and death threats and remains under constant police protection.

Joly is seen as the leader of a new breed of judges who have not been afraid of calling to account crooked businessmen and the French political elite. In a country where the lines between the judiciary and the executive have been traditionally blurred, her investigations into the affairs of highly influential politicians such as Roland Dumas and Bernard Tapie, have made her the champion of determined efforts to uphold judicial independence and uncover a system of pervasive corruption.

The belief that lack of transparency can destroy democracy has been a strong motivation in her investigative work. "If the citizens of this country are convinced that government contracts are not being awarded with the public interest in mind but rather to fill the secret bank accounts of the political elites or to maintain their networks, the confidence of voters will be destroyed for decades to come," she says.

Joly has investigated financial crime in France with unprecedented zeal, ending a tradition of not treating high-class financial wrongdoing as crimes at all. "The great fiscal frauds involved very powerful and respectable people who were convinced - and still are - that they are entitled to be above the law. Someone robs a petrol station and he is pursued methodically," says Joly. "The culprit is caught, his home searched and he is sentenced to 10 years. But when the head of an organisation steals 100 million, justice surrounds itself with precautionary luxuries…prolonged preliminary inquiries, interviews and interminable strings of experts." Joly has been committed to speeding up the process. In the past five years, she has dealt with 200 separate cases.

Transparency International presents its Integrity Award to Eva Joly in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the fight against corruption in France and the example she has set for other members of the judiciary in her country and elsewhere, as well as her courage in the face of personal danger.

Integrity Award 2001 winner

The Public Prosecution Office and the People of the City of Londrina (Brazil)

In June 2000, Antonio Belinati, the mayor of Londrina, a city of 450,000 in the State of Paraná in southern Brazil, was impeached by the City Council on charges of corruption. The mayor's removal from office was the result of a unique combined effort of the local Public Prosecutor's Office and a special coalition of civil society organisations created in support of the Londrina prosecutors. Belinati was a powerful politician with significant influence throughout the state who served three terms as Mayor of Londrina. It is estimated that a total of USD 45 million disappeared during Belinati's term in office, plus millions more during the privatisation of the municipal telephone utility.

The case against the mayor began when public prosecutor Bruno Galatti was appointed to investigate charges of overpricing in contracts for municipal outdoor maintenance services. It soon became apparent that irregularities were widespread. Joined by fellow prosecutor Cláudio Esteves, Galatti began collecting information, taking evidence from hundreds of witnesses. They later gained authorisation to search and seize documents held by the municipal agency responsible for urban affairs and public works. They discovered irregularities affecting more than 200 procurement procedures, including contracts with non-existent firms that were paid for services that were never performed.

From February 1999 to early 2001, Galatti, Esteves and their colleague, Solange Vicentin, initiated 29 legal proceedings against Mayor Belinati and 116 others. They persisted in their efforts despite the intensification of threats made against them and the characterisation of their work by Belinati's cronies as "political persecution".

To gain support for their work, the prosecutors sought the help of representatives of Londrina's civil society organisations. Many local leaders began to follow the investigations closely, spurred on by Londrina's Catholic archbishop. With the continuing investigations by the prosecutors and growing support from the community, the Movement for the Moralisation of Londrina's Public Administration was born. It adopted as its campaign slogan "Pé Vermelho! Mãos Limpas! (Red Foot! Clean Hands!), a reference to the red soil of this predominantly agricultural region and to the clean hands campaign conducted against corruption in Italy in the 1990s.

A coalition of civil society organisations, numbering 80 at the height of the campaign, began holding weekly meetings to support the investigations and put pressure on the administration. Weekly demonstrations brought the campaign crucial media attention. Never before in the region had so many disparate organisations rallied around a common cause.

Transparency International presents its Integrity Award to public prosecutors Bruno Galatti, Cláudio Esteves and Solange Vicentin in recognition of their dogged pursuit of administrative corruption and waste, and for their determination to bring a dishonest politician to justice despite personal threats. The people of Londrina, represented by their community organisations, are being honoured together with the prosecutors for the crucial support they collectively mobilised and which ultimately led to the mayor's impeachment.

Posthumous Tributes

Transparency International has paid posthumous tributes to four individuals in 2001:

Carlos Alberto Cardoso (Mozambique)
Exposing corruption through words and deeds

Carlos Alberto Cardoso fought tirelessly for a free and open press in Mozambique and dedicated his career as a journalist to investigative reporting. When he was assassinated on 22 November 2000, Cardoso was in the midst of investigating the largest banking fraud in the country's history. A man of integrity and honesty, Cardoso waged his struggle on several fronts: for freedom of expression and freedom of the press; against apartheid and all forms of discrimination; against colonialism and against injustice. He did this through his work as a journalist and as a local politician. In Mozambique and around the world, Cardoso is a symbol of tenacity and integrity in the battle against corruption.

Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento (Colombia)
A Latin American symbol of political activism

Dr Luis Carlos Galán is a role model for those fighting against corruption in Latin America and throughout the world. A gifted and dedicated politician, he was fearless in exploring links between organised crime, drug trafficking and government. For this, he was killed on 18 August 1989 outside Bogota, while on the campaign trail. He was running for President. Dr Galán's legacy remains, and many of the reforms he advocated have become reality, including new electoral procedures designed to reduce rampant vote-buying and important changes to the constitution. Dr Galán remains a hero to Colombians and Latin Americans, and the principles for which he lived and died are still being pursued.

Georgy Gongadze (Ukraine)
The murder of a journalist ignites civil society in Ukraine

In September 2000, Ukraine was shaken by the disappearance of the young outspoken journalist and government critic, Georgy Gongadze. On 2 November, Gongadze's headless body, burnt with acid to obscure his identity, was found near Kiev. He was 31. Gongadze's brutal murder came after he had openly and repeatedly criticised the Ukrainian government and President Leonid Kuchma. There is evidence that his murder was organised at the highest levels of government by those who feared the exposure of Gongadze's investigative reporting and his calls for transparency. Allegations of government involvement in his death, the failure of the authorities to engage in a transparency investigation and the suppression of peaceful protests in support of Gongadze prompted an unprecedented campaign that has united civil society and the opposition in Ukraine. From his death, a resistance movement was born. This movement has adopted the ideals of Gongadze as its own: freedom of speech, transparency and accountability of government and the rule of law.

Norbert Zongo (Burkina Faso)
A symbol of freedom and expression

Journalist Norbert Zongo paid with his life for speaking out against the government of Burkina Faso. Zongo, who dedicated his professional career to uncovering the truth, was the Editor of the weekly newspaper L'Indépendant. He was assassinated on 13 December 1998, at the age of 49, as he was investigating allegations linking the brother of Burkina Faso's President, Blaise Compaoré, to a high-profile unsolved murder. In 1993, he established L'Indépendant, which distinguished itself from the start through its fierce determination to maintain its integrity and report the truth. Zongo's popularity grew with his newspaper's exposure of a series of scandals, including the uncovering of a vast swindle involving the state gold mining company, a monopoly on leather exports granted to relatives of the president and illegal land deals benefiting leaders of the ruling party. Citizens in Burkina Faso have long demanded an explanation for the assassination of Zongo and an end to prevailing impunity. Although a commission was appointed to investigate his death, no one has been charged with the crime.


For any press enquiries please contact

London:
Susan Côté-Freeman
Tel: +44 207 610 1400
freeman@transparency.org