The New York governor’s office tampered with an anti-corruption commission that his office set up to root out corruption in state politics.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office created the anti-graft commission after the state capital in Albany was hit by numerous scandals involving lawmakers. The commission was able to subpoena state officials, lawmakers and agency records.
Cuomo had promised that the Moreland Commission, established in July 2013 to investigate violations of campaign finance laws and other corrupt practices, would remain independent. He also said the commission could investigate anyone, including him.
Cuomo initially said the commission would operate for 18 months but disbanded it in March, nine months early. The US Attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara criticized that decision and said it was prematurely disbanded.
The commission was compromised from the start because the governor and his aides worked to prevent it from investigating groups close to him.
One example involves a media-buying firm called Buying Time. Investigators subpoenaed the firm to investigate alleged violations of campaign-finance laws. At the time, investigators were not aware that Cuomo had bought airtime through Buying Time for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. When news of the subpoena reached the governor’s office, senior aide Lawrence S. Schwartz contacted one of the commission’s co-chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick, and ordered the subpoena retracted. Cuomo, who is up for re-election this fall, is now under investigation by federal prosecutors for thwarting commission activities.
Bruce Hall, the former chief executive of one of the world’s largest aluminum smelters, was sentenced to 16 months in prison after admitting he took nearly $5 million in bribes from a Bahraini sheikh.
The case involved an eight-year conspiracy involving Alba Aluminum, Canadian-British billionaire Victor Dahdaleh, and Bahraini minister Sheikh Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa.
Hall made a deal with Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) last year, agreeing to testify for the prosecution against Dahdaleh. The case centered on accusations that Dahdaleh paid nearly $65 million in bribes to Sheikh Isa in exchange for US$ 3 billion in contracts for businesses that Dahdaleh represented, including Alcoa, a major US aluminum company.
The jury acquitted Dahdaleh, though he admitted paying an additional $51 million to Sheikh Isa. His lawyer contended this was not corruption as Alba’s board allegedly approved the payments.
In sentencing Hall, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith emphasized the severity of the case due to the large amount of money and length of time involved. The judge said Hall fully supported Dahdaleh, accepting money from him and enthusiastically going along with the conspiracy.
Hall was ordered to pay $850,822 to Alba in compensation and was fined more than $ 5 million. Hall could have been sentenced to 20 months. Because of his cooperation, the judge reduced the sentence to 16 months.
Indian doctors are swindling patients by sending them to labs for unnecessary and exorbitantly priced tests because they receive commission for the referrals.
Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan denounced the practice before Parliament, a day after a Hindi news channel’s undercover sting showed doctors receiving 30 to 50 percent commissions on MRI tests, CT Scans, ultrasounds, and other pathology tests. Officials at one laboratory visited by undercover reporters said they had kickback deals with 10,000 doctors, some of who even established a monthly kickback system.
The health minister said his ministry is assembling a panel of medical practitioners and consumer law experts to better codify clinical examination laws. Vardhan called the country's drug approval agency a snake pit of vested interests.
The diagnostic market is the fastest growing sector in India's healthcare industry. It is also one largely controlled by private companies, while government hospitals remain overcrowded and lack the resources to cater to growing demand.
This imbalance has been blamed for some of the health care corruption that occurs in India, where doctors have been accused of receiving gifts from companies for prescribing their drugs, or sending patients to labs that overcharge them for medical tests.
According to MP Shantaram Naik, patients are being forced to pay double or triple the price for medical devices at hospitals. Vardhan said that the laissez faire spirit that dominates this business in India works to the disadvantage of the consumer and needs correction.
Two Mexican men have been sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to bribe the US District judge in Austin in a money laundering case involving the Los Zetas drug cartel.
Francisco Colorado Jr., 26, and Ramon Segura Flores, 52, had hoped to ensure a reduced sentence for Francisco Colorado Cessa, who was convicted in a complex scheme to launder millions of dollars of drug profits through the breeding, training, and racing of horses.
In addition to Colorado Cessa, ten other defendants were convicted in the scheme, including José Treviño Morales, who is the brother of Los Zetas leaders Miguel Treviño Morales and Omar Treviño Morales. Miguel Treviño Morales was captured by Mexican authorities last July.
After receiving a tip from an informant, federal agents monitored calls that Colorado Cessa, who is Colorado Jr.’s father and Segura’s business partner, made from jail where he discussed the plan with the others.
Colorado Jr. and Segura were arrested last September. They pleaded guilty in March and were sentenced on Tuesday. Prior to the plea bargain, they had been facing terms of up to five years in prison.
Court documents posted by Borderland Beat describe meetings between the two men and undercover law enforcement agents and their plans to bribe a judge with approximately $1 million. The judge, US District Judge Sam Sparks, did not know about the scheme.
ROBBING THE TREASURY
BRIBES AND KICKBACKS GALORE!
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