The Disease of Corruption: How Distrust in Corrupt Governments Impacts Emergency Health Delivery

Corruption negatively impacts health outcomes. As noted in a previous post, corruption is associated with higher infant, child, and maternal mortality, overall poor health, the spread of antibiotic resistance, and many other problems. When we consider the reasons why corruption undermines health, the most obvious include things like theft or diversion of healthcare resources, or how demands for extra “informal” payments to healthcare providers can deprive poor communities of adequate care. There is, however, another important mechanism through which corruption undermines public health: corruption undermines trust in government and government-run services, which in turn can hinder effective health delivery and thereby escalate the spread of infectious diseases, especially in emergency situations like the recent Ebola crisis. Continue reading

“Charitable Giving” — A Way Around the FCPA? Part II

In a December post I asked readers how they would rule in an FCPA-related case recently before U.S. federal trial judge Melinda Harmon.  As judge Harmon was required to do when deciding the case, readers were asked to assume the following was true:  The chief executive of Hyperdynamics Corporation, a Houston-based oil exploration company, had established “American Friends of Guinea,” an NGO, in 2006 after the Guinean government had threatened to revoke the company’s oil concession, its sole asset; and shortly after “Friends” was created, the government approved a renegotiated concession.  In 2007, when the government again threatened its concession, “Friends” made a substantial contribution of medicines to care for Guineans stricken with cholera, and in 2009, after the government again reaffirmed the concession, Hyperdynamics donated company stock to “Friends.”  Finally, in 2011 the firm itself gave government ministries some $30,000 worth of computer equipment.

Well, readers, what do you think?  Do the above allegations, if true, state a plausible violation of the FCPA?  That is, could a reasonable jury, or judge sitting as a finder of facts, infer from them that one or more of the donations was actually a bribe Hyperdynamics paid to Guinean government officials in return for allowing it keep its oil concession? Continue reading

Guinean, American Anticorruption Investigators Tear Up the “Best Private Mining Deal of Our Generation”

The mining mogul Benny Steinmetz was once feted for the “best private mining deal of our generation,” after his company secured Africa’s richest iron ore deposit in Simandou, Guinea. Today, the deal “lies in ruins.” A two-year investigation by Guinea’s government has found that Steinmetz’s firm BSGR used corrupt practices to win its mining rights from Ahmed Sekou Touré, Guinea’s former dictator, . The company has now been stripped of these rights. Meanwhile, the FBI has Steinmetz on tape authorizing millions of dollars in payments to the wife of a former Guinean dictator. A BSGR associate, Frederic Cilins, has pled guilty to obstructing an FCPA inquiry into the mining deal in a Manhattan court; Swiss prosecutors are looking to question Steinmetz himself. Perhaps unbelievably for Benny Steinmetz, anticorruption authorities around the world have responded furiously to a clandestine deal in an overlooked, West African backwater.

Four takeaways from these incredible developments, after the jump.

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