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GLOBAL-L  May 2010

GLOBAL-L May 2010

Subject:

Re: New project from OCCRP

From:

Drew Sullivan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 13 May 2010 23:36:39 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (274 lines)

Blaz, 

You all did a fine piece of journalism (for those who did not see the presentation in Geneva) and I agree that journalism is part of the solution. And cross border journalism and the cooperation you demonstrated with your Finnish colleagues is also part of the solution. 

And you are also right about the importance of our stories running abroad for precisely the reason you mention.  If the story shows up in Western media, it will create more pressure at home for change. We saw that when we did a story about corruption at a bank owned by the family of the President of Montenegro as part of a team led by David Kaplan at ICIJ.  The story got great play locally but it was the fact that ICIJ published it in the US that made it impossible for Montenegrin media to ignore.  We also did a story on corruption in football that ran for a week in Bosnian media before it  died down. But when Der Speigel wrote a story about our story, the issue stayed in the news for another two weeks and got much more play.   

I am not negative.  Change can come.  But I don't expect it to happen fast. We must reach a tipping point before things really change and to reach that point requires us to keep doing what we do. 

And for the record, the reporters on the security project were Catalin Prisacariu (Romania), Stevan Dojcinovic (Serbia), Stanimir Vaglenov (Bulgaria) and Dimitru Lazaru (Moldova) with help from Djordje Padejski and John Holland. Two more stories are coming from Macedonia and Bosnia. 


******************************************************
Drew Sullivan
Advising Editor
Center for Investigative Reporting (www.cin.ba)
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (www.reportingproject.net) 
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
[log in to unmask]
+387 33 560 042 (office)
+387 61 139 403 (mobile) 

-----Original Message-----
From: Blaz Zgaga [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:54 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [GLOBAL-L] New project from OCCRP

I like to show one positive example which brings some hope to the region or to Slovenia at least -  the Patria case.

Finnish police is investigating a serious bribery in arms deal in Slovenia since 2007. In 278 million EUR worth purchase of armoured vehicles from Finnish defence company, 21 million euros or 7,5% has been allocated for kickbacks. 

Moreover, from February 2007 when Interpol Vienna issued first urgent notice to five polices in three continents for alleged money laundering, the Slovene police "lost" at least five Interpol notices for 15 months. 

This was an obvious sign that something gets very wrong in this country. 
"Political organization" (according to Drew) - a Slovene political party led by then Prime Minister Janez Jansa "captured" almost all state justice institutions. Beside this Jansa was holding even EU presidency in first half of
2008 and therefore represented EU to the world.

But between dozens of suspects in a huge criminal investigation of bribery and industrial espionage, where Finnish, Austrian and since May 2008 also Slovene police cooperates, is also former Prime Minister Jansa himself.

I would like to stress that police and prosecutors from less corrupt countries could do a lot of good if they prosecute powerful politicians from more corrupt countries, when they commit a crime on their soil or launder money gained from corruption.

Nothing would be probably changed in Slovenia without Finnish police investigation. 

I agree with Drew about somehow hopeless situation in transition Eastern European countries. But such cross-border police investigations, started and led by less corrupt countries could bring some positive changes.

Also we, journalists can add some additional pressure. I am adding a link to GIJC presentation about cooperation with the Finnish colleague in the Patria
case:

http://gijc2010.ch/media/site/documents/berglund-zgaga-
patriacase_presentation.pdf


Blaz Zgaga
free-lance journalist
Slovenia

On Thursday 13 May 2010 19:15:08 Drew Sullivan wrote:
> That's because, sadly, there are no real efforts. Powerful people like 
> having their own private army of centurions to protect themselves or 
> their turf.  People in power are satisfied with the status quo. This 
> is tied to anti-corruption efforts.
>
> Anti corruption efforts are failing. There is talk. There is posturing. 
> But it will be years and maybe decades before there are real arrests 
> and losses of power or influence.  The countries are not yet ready to 
> deal with confronting corruption.  They might arrest some politically 
> unconnected drug dealers but if there are arrests of truly influential 
> people, they will not be prosecuted. If they are prosecuted, they will 
> not be found guilty and they will not serve time.  In Bosnia, which is 
> all but CONTROLLED by the EU and has international prosecutors, there 
> has not been a single successful prosecution and jailing of an influential politician.
> Not one. Not one politician has served a jail sentence. And they've 
> been caught completely red handed.
>
> This is because of a fundamental difference in perspective.  What you 
> call corruption, many here would call political organization. It is a 
> way of life -- a patronage system that controls all aspects of life -- 
> and I see very little pressure for fundamental change.  People, 
> including many civil society organizations, don't seek to change the 
> political situation.  They seek to join it to gain power and money.
>
> The EU will keep making demands and the Eastern European countries 
> will keep saying what the EU wants to hear and doing nothing.  But we 
> all know the EU will let everyone in.  They showed that with Romania and Bulgaria.
> If they let Bulgaria in, they'll let anyone in. Obviously they don't 
> care enough about corruption.
>
> But I am not depressed about this.  I see organized crime and 
> corruption as a high growth industry --- Eastern Europe's own capitalistic export.
> Hell, Eastern European organized crime has been quickly running your 
> native criminals out of business in most of your big cities and most 
> of you haven't noticed it yet.  Want drugs or hookers in London? Chances are you
> are buying from an Albanian group. That's good for us who cover it.       
> ;-)))
>
> ******************************************************
> Drew Sullivan
> Advising Editor
> Center for Investigative Reporting (www.cin.ba) Organized Crime and 
> Corruption Reporting Project (www.reportingproject.net) Sarajevo, 
> Bosnia and Herzegovina [log in to unmask]
> +387 33 560 042 (office)
> +387 61 139 403 (mobile)
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: James M. Dorsey [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2010 5:30 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [GLOBAL-L] New project from OCCRP
>
> This is indeed great reporting. Congtaulations. I would have however 
> liked to have seen a bit more on efforts to counter the phenomena, 
> both domestic as well as on the part of the EU. Perhaps, that is 
> something you could elaborate on.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: HUNTER Mark [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 13 May 2010 18:52
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [GLOBAL-L] New project from OCCRP
>
> What a great story.  Not surprising, either.  As Drew knows, the 
> extraction wars in the ex-USSR were fought to a large extent by former 
> state security forces who joined the private sector. To me these 
> trends are the core governance and security issue of the century, 
> beyond terrorism.  Nice work, Drew and the OCCRP.
>
> Best to all
>
> Mark Lee Hunter
> Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow, INSEAD Docteur en 
> Sciences de l'Information de l'Université de Paris 2 Portable: (+33) 
> [0]6 27 81 00 87
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Drew Sullivan [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thu 13/05/2010 13:55
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [GLOBAL-L] New project from OCCRP
>
>
> You can see our new project on security companies at:
>
> http://www.reportingproject.net/security/
>
>
> They began to rise when the old political systems started crumbling.
> Trained professional soldiers simply switched to private security 
> companies, protecting banks, schools, money transfers and important people.
> The work fed their families and gave newly formed governments much 
> needed jobs and security, at least in theory. In reality, the private 
> security sector became its own political, criminal and social force.
>
> By OCCRP
>
> Reporters from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project 
> investigation spread out across South East Europe to find out who 
> really controls the industry. Researching court records, tax rolls, 
> business registers and government contracts, the reporters found that 
> some of the most powerful figures in organized crime hide behind 
> security companies to arm thugs and intimidate their foes.
>
> Killers, drug dealers and racketeers operate with impunity across the 
> region, often with the aid of political figures and police officers 
> who are supposed to protect the public. Laws are weak, allowing gang 
> leaders to hire and arm convicted felons who otherwise couldn't carry 
> a weapon. In Serbia, there are no laws at all regulating the security sector.
>
> The investigation also uncovered chilling material showing the 
> influence security firms exert over everyday life.
>
> In Moldova, a minister was caught on tape rallying heads of security 
> companies to pressure and intimidate the population to back the 
> communist party government. If not, they would lose lucrative government contracts.
> In Macedonia political parties directly control some security firms.
>
> Bulgaria's prime minister made his fortune operating private security 
> companies. Two of his early business partners cast a shadow on this 
> past: a government agent now accused of operating an organized crime 
> ring for the past decade, and the head of a private security company 
> whose managers await trial for drug trafficking and racketeering.
>
> Security agencies are Bulgaria's largest private employer -- 130,000 
> people, one in 11 adult males in the country, work in security-related 
> jobs. It's also a haven for racketeers and enforcers who records show 
> force their way into the very companies they are hired to protect, 
> taking shares and money from owners by threatening their families and 
> handing out beatings.
>
> See the whole story at:  http://www.reportingproject.net/security/
>
>
>
> ******************************************************
> Drew Sullivan
> Advising Editor
> Center for Investigative Reporting (www.cin.ba <http://www.cin.ba/> ) 
> Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project 
> (www.reportingproject.net <http://www.reportingproject.net/> ) 
> Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina [log in to unmask] +387 33 560 042 (office)
> +387 61 139 403 (mobile)
>
>
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