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Law­suit seeks more data in Seth Rich case

An Arlington-based le­gal in­ves­tiga­tive unit filed a law­suit Wed­nes­day seek­ing to force D.C. po­lice to turn over in­for­ma­tion gath­ered in last year’s fa­tal shoot­ing of Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee staffer Seth Rich. The Pro­fil­ing Project, headed by lobbyist and lawyer Jack Burk­man, along with law stu­dents at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity, filed the suit in D.C. Su­pe­rior Court in the hope that it can gain ac­cess to sur­veil­lance video from a cam­era at the Fla­gler Mar­ket, near where Rich was killed; the D.C. med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s re­port on the death; and the foren­sic bal­lis­tic re­port. As part of the law­suit, Burk­man is ask­ing that D.C. po­lice re­lease the in­for­ma­tion within 10 days. Named as de­fen­dants in the law­suit are Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Karl A. Racine. Rich, 27, was shot July 10, 2016, in the Dis­trict’s Bloom­ing­dale neigh­bor­hood. D.C. po­lice have re­peat­edly said that they think Rich was killed in a ran­dom rob­bery at­tempt, but sev­eral con­spir­acy the­o­ries have emerged about his death. No ar­rests have been made. Brad Bau­man, a spokesman for the Rich fam­ily, said in an email Wed­nes­day that the fam­ily was not af­fil­i­ated with Burk­man or his law­suit. “The fam­ily re­mains com­pletely con­fi­dent in the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Depart­ment’s han­dling of the case,” Bau­man said in a state­ment.

Get ready for ‘Trump shocks’

As Cana­di­ans, we’ve ac­tu­ally seen this trou­bling pic­ture be­fore. It was back in the sum­mer of 1971, when the Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion of Richard Nixon im­posed a 10 per cent spe­cial “sur­charge” on all (non­re­source) im­ports en­ter­ing the United States. It be­came known in Canada as the “Nixon shocks.” Not sur­pris­ingly, this de­vel­op­ment sent enor­mous shock­waves through­out of­fi­cial Ot­tawa. Many in the Pierre El­liott Trudeau gov­ern­ment as­sumed it must have been an over­sight or a mis­take by an illinformed Nixon White House. There was talk of mas­sive job losses in Canada, the need for gov­ern­ment pro­grams to as­sist the un­em­ployed and it stood as a stark re­minder that Ot­tawa’s “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” with Wash­ing­ton had run its course. Cana­dian of­fi­cials were sub­se­quently dis­patched to Wash­ing­ton to set their U.S. coun­ter­parts straight. There was a gen­eral con­sen­sus amongst the del­e­ga­tion that once the Amer­i­cans were briefed on the im­por­tance and in­te­gra­tive na­ture of the two economies, the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion would come to its senses and swiftly ex­empt Canada (as it had done in the past) from this puni­tive mea­sure. What they dis­cov­ered to their hor­ror was that Canada was specif­i­cally tar­geted by of­fi­cial Wash­ing­ton. U.S. of­fi­cials were ap­par­ently an­gry with a onesided Canada-U.S. Auto Pact, un­wel­come noises about plac­ing re­stric­tions on U.S. in­vest­ment in Canada and a grow­ing bi­lat­eral trade deficit. The big brains in the Trudeau gov­ern­ment were at a loss as to how to get the Amer­i­cans to can­cel the sur­charge. Any thoughts of re­tal­i­a­tion against the U.S. were seen as dan­ger­ously coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and promptly dis­pensed with. Diplo­macy (at both the bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral lev­els) would be the or­der of the day — and es­pe­cially work­ing closely with our Euro­pean friends to plead our col­lec­tive case. As it turned out, Pres­i­dent Nixon re­lented, largely be­cause of Ja­panese cur­rency align­ment, Euro­pean pres­sure and an im­prov­ing U.S. bal­ance of pay­ments sit­u­a­tion, and scrapped the mea­sure in De­cem­ber of 1971. To­day, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau faces the omi­nous prospect of an­other Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent, Don­ald Trump, em­brac­ing “Buy Amer­ica” pro­vi­sions, dis­man­tling the NAFTA and im­pos­ing a 20 per cent “border ad­just­ment tax” on Cana­dian im­ports. The ful­fil­ment of any one of th­ese moves would spell very bad news in­deed for Canada. Of course, Cana­di­ans are well aware of the stakes here: we ex­port roughly 75 per cent of ev­ery­thing that we pro­duce to the U.S. mar­ket­place. It is the largest bi­lat­eral trad­ing re­la­tion­ship in the world. In­deed, the U.S. mar­ket com­prises some­thing like 16 per cent of Canada’s over­all GDP and Canada-U.S. trade amounts to $2.5 bil­lion a day. More­over, mil­lions of Cana­dian jobs de­pend on com­mer­cial ac­cess to the United States. And as the automotive sec­tor am­ply demon­strates, the two economies are highly in­te­grated. (It is of­ten said that car parts move across the border seven times be­fore the ve­hi­cle is fi­nally as­sem­bled.) Be­cause of this eco­nomic de­pen­dence, though, a Trump border tax would in­flict se­ri­ous harm on the Cana­dian econ­omy. And we should not kid our­selves this time around that an ex­emp­tion or quick fix for Canada is some­how in the cards. It won’t be. So if Pres­i­dent Trump does move to im­ple­ment a border tax, the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will need to say firmly to our U.S. friends that re­strict­ing Cana­dian im­ports hurts U.S. sub­sidiaries op­er­at­ing in Canada, makes it more dif­fi­cult for strug­gling Cana­dian com­pa­nies to pur­chase U.S. prod­ucts, and that we have only a small trade sur­plus with the U.S. We should also not be shy about re­mind­ing U.S. of­fi­cials that Canada is the top trad­ing part­ner for some 37 U.S. states — a num­ber of which voted for Trump in Novem­ber. Diplo­mat­i­cally speak­ing, Canada will have to work in con­cert with other like-minded coun­tries within mul­ti­lat­eral fora to push back against the border mea­sure. More im­por­tant, Ot­tawa will have to uti­lize our em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton to lobby stren­u­ously se­nior of­fi­cials in the Trump White House, mem­bers of Congress (and par­tic­u­larly key com­mit­tee chairs), state gov­er­nors and friendly U.S. busi­ness in­ter­ests (such as those in the auto parts sec­tor). Sim­ply put, we will have to in­form the Trump team that the scope of con­ver­gence be­tween the two economies means that pun­ish­ing Canada with a border tax is tan­ta­mount to cut­ting off your nose to spite your face. But we all need to re­al­ize that we’re now in a much dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal uni­verse than the one in the early 1970s. And I have to ad­mit, it’s hard to know what strat­egy, if any, would work with such a blink­ered and un­pre­dictable Trump pres­i­dency.

Non-bank lenders left reel­ing by new fed­eral mort­gage rules

Canada’s non-bank lenders are reel­ing from Ot­tawa’s lat­est moves to cool Canada’s hous­ing mar­ket, with many forced to im­me­di­ately hike their mort­gage rates or scale back their busi­nesses. First Na­tional Fi­nan­cial, the coun­try’s largest non-bank mort­gage lender, sent a note to its mort­gage-bro­ker clients last week an­nounc­ing that it had tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended mort­gages for rental prop­er­ties. It did the same for “stated-in­come” loans to bor­row­ers who can’t ver­ify their em­ploy­ment us­ing tra­di­tional means, such as self­em­ployed and con­tract work­ers. The com­pany’s shares fell nearly 20 per cent last week. Other lenders re­acted sim­i­larly in re­sponse to changes in mort­gage-lend­ing rules that fed­eral Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau an­nounced last week in or­der to limit Ot­tawa’s ex­po­sure to risks in the hous­ing mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly in the over­heated Van­cou­ver and Toronto ar­eas. Those changes in­clude tight­en­ing rules around qual­i­fy­ing rates for bor­row­ers with down pay­ments of less than 20 per cent and clos­ing loop­holes that have al­lowed some for­eign in­vestors to avoid pay­ing cap­i­tal-gains taxes when they sell prop­erty. Non-bank lenders now con­trol about a third of the mar­ket for new mort­gages in Canada, roughly $100-bil­lion to $140-bil­lion per year. Most com­pete di­rectly for the same clients that are at­trac­tive to banks – bor­row­ers with good credit scores and sta­ble in­comes – but have been able to of­fer lower rates or more flex­i­ble terms than the ma­jor banks. “This has es­sen­tially crip­pled the non-banks,” said Ron Butler of Butler Mort­gage, an on­line bro­ker­age. “It’s like you took one of their legs and broke it in a com­pound frac­ture.” Mr. Butler pre­dicted many non­bank lenders would see their mar­ket share shrink sig­nif­i­cantly over the next year, with some do­ing 50 to 60 per cent fewer mort­gages in the wake of the new rules. “It re­ally is a mas­sive, mas­sive change,” he said. Another lender, Merix Fi­nan­cial, told bro­kers it would no longer of­fer mort­gages on rental prop­er­ties and re­fi­nanc­ing af­ter Nov. 15. Home­own­ers re­fi­nance their mort­gage by break­ing their ex­ist­ing con­tracts early and tak­ing a new mort­gage, ei­ther to take ad­van­tage of a lower in­ter­est rate or take eq­uity out of their home to pay other ex­penses. MCAP Fi­nan­cial told bro­kers it will in­crease in­ter­est rates for new mort­gage ap­pli­ca­tions by 10 ba­sis points. (A ba­sis point is 1/100th of a per­cent­age point.) Start­ing in De­cem­ber, MCAP said it will also limit amor­ti­za­tion pe­ri­ods on new re­fi­nanc­ing ap­pli­ca­tions to 25 years and in­crease in­ter­est rates on those loans by 15 ba­sis points. RMG Mort­gages, which is owned by MCAP, said it was end­ing 35-year mort­gage amor­ti­za­tions start­ing next month and would hike rates on “stated-in­come” mort­gages by 15 ba­sis points. It is Ot­tawa’s new rules for port­fo­lio in­sur­ance that have dealt the big­gest blow to the coun­try’s “mono­line” lenders, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that have only one line of busi­ness – mort­gages – and op­er­ate pre­dom­i­nantly through net­works of in­de­pen­dent mort­gage bro­kers, rather than through bricks and mor­tar re­tail branches. Bor­row­ers with down pay­ments of less than 20 per cent are re­quired to take mort­gage in­sur­ance. But lenders will of­ten sep­a­rately take out port­fo­lio in­sur­ance on pools of their unin­sured mort­gages, those with down pay­ments of 20 per cent or more, so that they can sell the loans to in­vestors through CMHC’s mort­gage-backed se­cu­ri­ties pro­grams. Un­til now, port­fo­lio in­sur­ance has given non-bank lenders ac­cess to a cheap source of fi­nanc­ing, al­low­ing them to of­fer mort­gages at in­ter­est rates that are com­pet­i­tive with the ma­jor banks, which have other ways to fund their mort­gage busi­nesses, such as de­posits. Un­der the new port­fo­lio in­sur­ance rules that kick in Nov. 30, lenders will no longer be able to in­sure mort­gages with amor­ti­za­tion pe­ri­ods beyond 25 years, those on homes worth more than $1-mil­lion, rental prop­er­ties, or mort­gage re­fi­nanc­ing. That is forc­ing lenders who have re­lied heav­ily on gov­ern­ment-backed port­fo­lio in­sur­ance to scram­ble to find other ways to fi­nance these por­tions of their mort­gage busi­ness or scrap them en­tirely. Sev­eral in­dus­try players say the new rules will make it far more dif­fi­cult for al­ter­na­tive lenders to com­pete with the ma­jor banks, who rely less on port­fo­lio in­sur­ance to fund their mort­gage busi­ness and who will likely be able to ab­sorb the in­creased costs of stricter mort­gage-in­sur­ance reg­u­la­tions with­out hiking rates on their mort­gage prod­ucts. “Tight­en­ing of mort­gage reg­u­la­tions gen­er­ally, peo­ple are gen­er­ally on board with that,” said James Laird, pres­i­dent of mort­gage bro­ker­age CanWise Fi­nan­cial. “What we’re not on board with is sys­tem­atic changes that ben­e­fit the banks at the cost of the mort­gage bro­kers backed by mono­line lenders.” If Ot­tawa goes ahead with plans to force lenders to share in the cost of de­faulted mort­gages that are cov­ered by its gov­ern­ment­backed mort­gage in­sur­ance, that may push some smaller lenders to shut down en­tirely, while oth­ers may have to scale back their op­er­a­tions and lay off staff, Mr. Butler said. “The banks are the only com­pa­nies in Canada who could im­me­di­ately ab­sorb risk-shar­ing and not have to raise their rates im­me­di­ately,” he said. “They could sit back and watch their com­peti­tors just dry up and blow away.”

BREED­ING OF OKRA FOR A $100M JA­PAN MAR­KET EYED BY IPB, PCCI

THE PHILIP­PINE CHAM­BER of Com­merce and In­dus­tries (PCCI) is team­ing up with the In­sti­tute of Plant Breed­ing (IPB) on a tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance (TA) pro­gram that may in­clude the breed­ing of okra, for which there is a pro­jected mar­ket worth US$ 100 mil­lion in Ja­pan. The planned breed­ing of high value crops— par­tic­u­larly okra and soy­bean veg­eta­bles for the pop­u­lar side dish “edamame” for the Ja­pan mar­ket—may be the top pri­or­ity of the IPB-PCCI part­ner­ship, ac­cord­ing to PCCI Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee Chief Roberto C. Amores. An ini­tial dis­cus­sion on the TA pro­gram was con­ducted last June 2 at the IPB-Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Los Banos. “For me the breed­ing of okra and soy­bean for the Ja­pan mar­ket should be a pri­or­ity for this part­ner­ship with IPB,” said Amores. “Ge­netic im­prove­ment in our fresh veg­eta­bles for Ja­pan will be the key to in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity of farm­ers.” PCCI and Filipino agribusi­ness ex­port­ing firm Hi Las Mar­ket­ing Corp., which Amores heads, may look for fund­ing for the re­search. IPB’s re­search on the dis­ease re­sis­tant Bt egg­plant was fi­nanced through a United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (US­AID) grant and a coun­ter­part fund from the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Los Baños (UPLB) and the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA). The PCCI-IPB pro­gram will also in­volve a com­pre­hen­sive col­lab­o­ra­tion aimed at pro­vid­ing eas­ier, faster ac­cess for small farm­ers to fi­nanc­ing; mar­ket­ing of farm­ers’ pro­duce di­rect to mar­kets in­clud­ing ho­tels and restau­rants; and de­vel­op­ment of con­tract grow­ing busi­ness mod­els. “PCCI knows how im­por­tant agri­cul­ture is. We want to have a na­tional con­sul­ta­tion for agri­cul­ture. We’re push­ing for govern­ment’s fi­nanc­ing of agri­cul­ture es­pe­cially for the small ones,” said PCCI pres­i­dent Ge­orge T. Barcelon. “For in­fra­struc­ture, there should be ir­ri­ga­tion, power fa­cil­i­ties, and roads. There should be in­for­ma­tion on prices of agri­cul­tural sup­plies like fer­til­iz­ers.” IPB co-founder Dr. Emil Q. Javier said IPB’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with PCCI must zero in on en­abling farm­ers to be part of the value chain. This way, Filipino farm­ers do not just be­come sup­pli­ers of cheap raw ma­te­ri­als to big man­u­fac­tur­ers or re­tail­ers, they also be­come part­ners for agri-busi­nesses. Glenn N. Bat­i­ca­dos, UPLB Tech­nol­ogy Trans­fer di­rec­tor, said IPB-UPLB may also part­ner with the pri­vate sec­tor through the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of its tech­nolo­gies. “Jol­libee is in­ter­ested in get­ting 11 tech­nolo­gies that we de­vel­oped,” said Bat­i­ca­dos.

Sil­ver Top set to hit auc­tion block Out-of-com­mis­sion diner will be avail­able for pur­chase on Oct. 5

PAWTUCKET – With the le­gal bat­tle hav­ing come to an end, the his­toric Sil­ver Top Diner will hit the auc­tion block next month, as mem­bers of the Pawtucket Re­de­vel­op­ment Agency and con­sul­tants for the city hope to bring it back to its pre­vi­ous glory, pos­si­bly in Pawtucket. The auc­tion will take place at 10 a. m. on Wed­nes­day, Oct. 5 at the site of the diner, which cur­rently sits on a va­cant plot of land on Mid­dle Street in Pawtucket. “The next step in the diner saga is about to take place,” Mike Cas­sidy, a plan­ning con­sul­tant for the city and the city’s for­mer Plan­ning Di­rec­tor, said. “It’s nice af­ter start­ing this project, to see it look­ing like it’s com­ing to some res­o­lu­tion, get­ting it back some­where and maybe even up and oper­at­ing.” Cas­sidy said his long-term goal is to see the diner re­turned to its for­mer lore – as a fully-func­tion­ing diner in which to serve hun­gry pa­trons. He said he would “hate to lose that valu­able piece of Amer­i­cana.” Su­san Mara, the city’s act­ing di­rec­tor of Plan­ning and Re­de­vel­op­ment and the act­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Pawtucket Re­de­vel­op­ment Agency, said that the Sil­ver Top hit­ting the auc­tion block is “a good thing all around.” “I think it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for the diner it­self to be reused, it’s re­ally a neat piece,” Mara said. “It’s an op­por­tu­nity to be reused. I think it’s a good op­por­tu­nity, it frees up lots for po­ten­tial re­de­vel­op­ment on those sites, it’s a good op­por­tu­nity over­all.” Mara agreed that the ideal sit­u­a­tion would be that the diner is sold to some­one who in­tends to keep it in Pawtucket. “It would be great if it was pur­chased with the idea to reuse in Pawtucket. We’d ab­so­lutely be will­ing to work with them,” Mara said. “In gen­eral, the din­ers were real pop­u­lar, but there are not that many left of them. We’re lucky we have the Mod­ern Diner in Pawtucket, it’s an awe­some ex­am­ple of how it can be pre­served and reused.” How­ever, Mara said that the city will be will­ing to work with who­ever pur­chases it, as the city is now par­tic­i­pat­ing as a sup­porter in the af­ter­math of the le­gal bat­tle over the diner’s fu­ture. In Novem­ber 2015, a Su­pe­rior Court jury re­jected diner owner Pa­tri­cia To­masso-Brown’s claims that the PRA was neg­li­gent be­cause it failed to prop­erly man­age the funds loaned to her by the agency to res­ur­rect the idle res­tau­rant as a go­ing busi­ness. She was seek­ing mone­tary dam­ages from the PRA, but the jury ruled in fa­vor of the de­fen­dants and she re­ceived no award. The le­gal feud in­volved a $100,000 loan the PRA made to To­masso-Brown some 14 years ago af­ter she bought the land­mark din­ing car and moved it to Pawtucket from its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion in Prov­i­dence. From the mid-1930s, the clas­sic din­ing car was lo­cated on a par­cel off Prom­e­nade Street near the Prov­i­dence Place Mall, but it was forced to re­lo­cate in 2001 af­ter the land be­neath it was sold to de­velop apart­ments. De­spite its cur­rent con­di­tion, wrapped in a tarp for years, the Sil­ver Top has a sto­ried past. Man­u­fac­tured by the New Jersey- based Kull­man Din­ing Car Com­pany, the his­toric din­ing car op­er­ated in Prov­i­dence for 60 years and was a main­stay for hun­gry work­ers from the fac­to­ries perched along­side the Moshas­suck River and, closer to the end of its life in the cap­i­tal city, as a pop­u­lar af­ter-hours eatery for rev­el­ers leav­ing the city’s bars and night­clubs.

CJI op­poses panel to vet can­di­dates for judge­ship

New Delhi: The higher ju­di­ciary is not in favour of any mech­a­nism that puts out­side in­ter­fer­ence in the pro­ce­dure of ap­point­ment of judges by the Supreme Court col­legium. At last week’s in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the Chief Justice of In­dia and two se­nior Cab­i­net min­is­ters, the former is be­lieved to have re­jected the pro­posal to put in place a com­mit­tee of re­tired judges to eval­u­ate the ap­pli­ca­tions of can­di­dates for ap­point­ment as judges to the SC and high courts. On Wed­nes­day, for­eign minister Sushma Swaraj and law minister Sadananda Gowda had met CJI T S Thakur at the lat­ter’s res­i­dence to con­vince him on the draft mem­o­ran­dum of pro­ce­dure (MoP) fi­nalised by the Cen­tre, over which the SC col­legium, headed by the CJI, had ex­pressed reser­va­tions over all key sug­ges­tions. Swaraj, who headed the group of min­is­ters which drafted the MoP, con­vinced the CJI on other is­sues that in­cluded set­ting up of sec­re­tar­iats at the SC and HCs to mon­i­tor and co­or­di­nate all ap­point­ment re­lated work. The MoP is a doc­u­ment which guides the ap­point­ment of judges to the SC and the 24 high courts. At present, there are two MoPs — one for the apex court and the other for high courts. The gov­ern­ment had sent the draft MoP to the SC col­legium in March. The CJI had re­turned the doc­u­ment in May rais­ing ob­jec­tions to var­i­ous clauses. Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing was aimed at nar­row­ing the dif­fer­ences be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive and the ju­di­ciary. At the meet­ing, Justice Thakur said the com­mit­tee of re­tired judges to eval­u­ate ap­pli­ca­tions was un­ac­cept­able, a source said. The gov­ern­ment wants the pro­posed panel to eval­u­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence of as­pi­rants in de­tail be­fore mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to the col­legium for a fi­nal call. One com­mit­tee was pro­posed at the SC level and 24 oth­ers for each high court.

COR­RUPT REGIMES GET OUR AID CASH AD­MITS CAMERON

TWO ma­jor re­cip­i­ents of Bri­tish aid are ‘fan­tas­ti­cally cor­rupt’, David Cameron ad­mit­ted yes­ter­day. The Prime Min­is­ter was caught on cam­era mak­ing the can­did re­mark to the Queen at a Buck­ing­ham Palace event mark­ing her 90th birth­day. He told her a sum­mit in Lon­don to­mor­row would see ‘the lead­ers of some fan­tas­ti­cally cor­rupt coun­tries com­ing to Bri­tain’. Sin­gling out Nige­ria and Afghanistan for crit­i­cism, he told the monarch they were ‘pos­si­bly the two most cor­rupt coun­tries in the world’. Down­ing Street stood by the com­ments – which ap­peared to leave the Queen vis­i­bly shocked – say­ing the lead­ers of both coun­tries ac­knowl­edged that they had a prob­lem. But Tory MP Philip Davies called for Nige­ria and Afghanistan to be stripped of aid un­til they clean up their acts. ‘It is com­pletely un­jus­ti­fi­able for the Prime Min­is­ter to pour tax­pay­ers’ money into Nige­ria and Afghanistan even though he knows they are fan­tas­ti­cally cor­rupt, it is an ab­so­lute scan­dal,’ he said. The two coun­tries pock­eted £435mil­lion of Bri­tish cash last year – de­spite deep cuts to pub­lic ser­vices here. Their pay­ments have soared 35 per cent since Mr Cameron took of­fice in 2010. Peter Bone, an­other Con­ser­va­tive MP, said the PM’s pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of Bri­tain’s in­come on aid meant more cash would in­evitably be lost to cor­rup­tion. He added: ‘We have got tied to this ridicu­lous tar­get which means we are more in­ter­ested in spend­ing money than in where it ends up. It is per­verse. ‘Why else are we giv­ing mil­lions of pounds to coun­tries that we know are fan­tas­ti­cally cor­rupt? We just end up lin­ing the pock­ets of cor­rupt lead­ers, bent of­fi­cials, crim­i­nal gangs and, in the worst cases, ter­ror­ists.’ Steve Hil­ton, Mr Cameron’s former Down­ing Street guru, also crit­i­cised his in­ter­ven­tion, high­light­ing a sur­vey by the Econ­o­mist sug­gest­ing the UK has a big­ger prob­lem with cor­rup­tion than coun­tries such as Brazil, France and the United States. In a mes­sage on Twit­ter, Mr Hil­ton said: ‘Be­fore any­one gets too com­pla­cent, the UK is fan­tas­ti­cally cor­rupt too.’ Mr Cameron’s slip came dur­ing an ap­par­ent ef­fort to make small talk about prepa­ra­tions for to­mor­row’s anti-cor­rup­tion sum­mit. He said: ‘We’ve got the Nige­ri­ans, ac­tu­ally we’ve got some lead­ers of some fan­tas­ti­cally cor­rupt coun­tries com­ing to Bri­tain. Nige­ria and Afghanistan, pos­si­bly the two most cor­rupt coun­tries in the world.’ The Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury, who used to work in Nige­ria, ap­peared to cor­rect the Prime Min­is­ter, telling him: ‘But this par­tic­u­lar pres­i­dent [Muham­madu Buhari] is ac­tu­ally not cor­rupt.’ The Queen then asked the arch­bishop: ‘He’s try­ing?’ He re­sponded: ‘Oh yes, he’s try­ing very hard.’ Com­mons speaker John Ber­cow, who was also present, then at­tempted a joke, say­ing: ‘They are com­ing at their own ex­pense one as­sumes?’ Mr Cam- eron replied: ‘Yes, be­cause it’s an an­ti­cor­rup­tion sum­mit every­thing has to be open, you see. So there are no closed door ses­sions. It’s all in front of the press. It could be quite, um, in­ter­est­ing. But there you go.’ Garba Shehu, a spokesman for the Nige­rian pres­i­dent, said: ‘It is dis­turb­ing that de­spite all the efforts made by Pres­i­dent Buhari in fight­ing cor­rup­tion in Nige­ria, his efforts have gone un­no­ticed. It is pos­si­ble the Prime Min­is­ter was caught un­awares and was re­fer­ring to how things were done in the past.’ The Afghan em­bassy main­tained a diplo­matic si­lence last night. But Lib Dem leader Tim Far­ron said: ‘Muham­madu Buhari won elec­tions last year promis­ing to fight wide­spread cor­rup­tion. ‘So to see our Prime Min­is­ter talk about him like this is dis­grace­ful. The rea­son this sum­mit is be­ing held is to help bol­ster newly elected lead­ers like Buhari and not to cut them down. The Prime Min­is­ter has gaffed, yet again.’ Mr Cameron also drew a re­buke from anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign­ers, who said he should look closer to home and deal with tax avoid­ance in Bri­tish overseas ter­ri­to­ries, which are blamed for hid­ing dirty money. The se­cre­tive na­ture of the tax regimes in some de­pen­den­cies, such as the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, was high­lighted in the re­cent Panama Pa­pers scan­dal. Mr Cameron is no stranger to the danger of un­guarded com­ments in the pres­ence of TV mi­cro­phones. In 2014, the Prime Min­is­ter was forced to is­sue a pub­lic apol­ogy to the Queen af­ter he in­ad­ver­tently re­vealed that she had ‘purred’ with plea­sure when he told her Scot­land had re­jected in­de­pen­dence. And last year he was recorded talk­ing about York­shire peo­ple ‘hat­ing each other’. Com­ment – Page 14 GLOBAL rank­ings show Nige­ria and Afghanistan re­ally are among the world’s most cor­rupt coun­tries – yet we give them mil­lions of pounds in aid which could ac­tu­ally fuel cor­rup­tion. Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional, an in­ter­na­tional non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, ranks wartorn Afghanistan as the third worst coun­try in the world for cor­rup­tion, only bet­ter than North Korea and So­ma­lia, while Nige­ria is 32nd from bot­tom. De­spite this, Bri­tain gives £237mil­lion a year in aid to Nige­ria and £198mil­lion to Afghanistan, the lat­est fig­ures show. The to­tal aid spend­ing on the two coun­tries is 35 per cent higher than when David Cameron came to power in 2010. Two years ago, a re­port from an aid watch­dog found that UK aid fu­els cor­rup­tion in Nige­ria, with one scheme in­creas­ing the like­li­hood that lo­cals would have to pay back­han­ders to the po­lice. The In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion For Aid Im­pact said the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (DfID) was not ‘up to the chal­lenge’ of tack­ling cor­rup­tion, of­ten be­cause it was con­cerned about of­fend­ing lo­cal politi­cians. NIGE­RIA: COR­RUP­TION ÷ Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional’s cor­rup­tion per­cep­tion index puts Nige­ria at 136 out of 168 coun­tries. ÷ Cor­rup­tion is en­demic in Nige­ria, with es­ti­mates as high as 400bil­lion US dol­lars lost since it won in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1960. ÷ A 2014 study by the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion For Aid Im­pact found: ‘Petty cor­rup­tion touches vir­tu­ally ev­ery as­pect of life and is ac­cepted through­out so­ci­ety as nor­mal and nec­es­sary. We heard sto­ries of par­ents pay­ing bribes to teach­ers to ed­u­cate their chil­dren, work­ers pay­ing bribes to get jobs and re­ceive their salaries, and pen­sion­ers pay­ing bribes to re­ceive pen­sions.’ ÷ It is be­lieved that up to 20bil­lion US dol­lars have gone miss­ing from the books of the state oil com­pany, the Nige­rian Na­tional Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion. ÷ Mil­lions of dol­lars meant to be spent on vac­ci­na­tions and on the fight against ebola have been il­le­gally di­verted. ÷ Sur­veys show that the Nige­rian po­lice is seen as the most cor­rupt in­sti­tu­tion in the coun­try, with peo­ple hav­ing to pay bribes be­fore of­fi­cers will agree to help them. BUT HERE ARE THEIR AID GRANTS ÷ The UK gave £237mil­lion in aid to Nige­ria in 2014. More than £1bil­lion has been given to the coun­try since 2010 – de­spite the fact that it is rich enough to af­ford a space pro­gramme. ÷ The DfID says the money goes to­wards pro­vid­ing clean wa­ter, food, health and education to mil­lions of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and does not go to government of­fi­cials. It also claims there are ro­bust checks to en­sure the money is safe from cor­rup­tion. ÷ A study into a multi-mil­lion­pound aid pro­gramme to boost schools found that it had pro­duced ‘no ma­jor im­prove­ment in pupil learn­ing’. Re­searchers found teach­ers at sub­sidised schools fre­quently failed to turn up and chil­dren were left to play foot­ball all day. ÷ The In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion For Aid Im­pact found that af­ter the UK spent mil­lions on a scheme to tackle po­lice bribery in Nige­ria, lo­cals said they were even more likely to have to pay back­han­ders. AFGHANISTAN: COR­RUP­TION ÷ Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional’s cor­rup­tion index puts Afghanistan at 166 out of 168 coun­tries. ÷ The New York Times once wrote: ‘ Cor­rup­tion can no longer be de­scribed as a cancer on the sys­tem: it is the sys­tem.’ ÷ Cor­rup­tion takes the form of bribes, nepo­tism, po­si­tion buy­ing and il­le­gal land trans­fers. ÷ Po­lice­men are ac­cused of turn­ing a blind eye to or even col­lud­ing with crim­i­nals and in­sur­gents in smug­gling or kid­nap­ping for ran­som. ÷ A United Na­tions sur­vey in 2012 found 50 per cent of Afghans were forced to pay bribes for government ser­vices. Money was de­manded by teach­ers, cus­toms of­fi­cials, judges and pros­e­cu­tors. ÷ Cor­rup­tion in Afghanistan goes right the way to the top – with former pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai him­self ap­par­ently im­pli­cated. The Kabul Bank cor­rup­tion scan­dal in 2010 saw mem­bers of his fam­ily and oth­ers ac­cused of spend­ing the bank’s money to fuel their lav­ish life­styles. AND HERE’S THEIR AID ÷ In 2014, the UK gave £198mil­lion in aid to the coun­try de­spite its record. The DfID says none of the money goes to the government and is only handed to lo­cal char­i­ties, with ro­bust checks in place. ÷ Mil­lions have been spent on try­ing to crack down on the opium and heroin trade, but de­spite all the efforts the coun­try’s poppy har­vest is now at its high­est ever level. ÷ Last month it was re­ported that two schools in Hel­mand prov­ince, which were re­fur­bished us­ing Bri­tish aid money, are now be­ing used as bases for the Afghan army. ÷ Bil­lions of dol­lars of aid have been si­phoned off by po­lit­i­cal elites linked to Mr Karzai. Ex­perts be­lieve that much may also have ended up in the hands of the Tal­iban. ÷ The DfID said our fund­ing sup­ports ba­sic ser­vices such as health­care and education, eco­nomic devel­op­ment, and anti-cor­rup­tion mea­sures.

THE LES­SON OF THE PANAMA PAPERS

Lon­don, April 10: Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron took the un­usual steponSun­dayof pub­lish­ing his tax records to try to end days of ques­tions about his per­sonal wealth caused by the men­tion of his late fa­ther’s off­shore fund in the Panama Papers. Cameron’s ini­tial re­luc­tance to ad­mit that he had ben­e­fited from the fund caused a furore, com­pound­ing his prob­lems at a tough time­forhisCon­ser­va­tive­g­ov­ern­ment. His party is badly split ahead of a June 23 ref­er­en­dum over whether Bri­tain should stay in the Euro­pean Union, and the gov­ern­ment has been forced to back­track on wel­fare cuts and is fac­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of fail­ing to pro­tect the steel in­dus­try. Af­ter say­ing on Satur­day that he could have han­dled the fall­out from the Panama dis­clo­sures bet­ter, Cameron re­leased nor­mally con­fi­den­tial de­tails of his tax records for the past six years. But any hope that this would draw a line un­der the is­sue was short-lived, as the mainSun­daynews­pa­per­sze­roed in on a gift of £200,000 Cameron re­ceived from his mother in 2011, sug­gest­ing it may be a way of avoid­ing in­her­i­tance tax. A source at Down­ing Street said the sug­ges­tion was in­ac­cu­rate, the gift had been de­clared and this was about a mother makingagift­to­her­son­inthe­same le­gal way that hun­dreds of thou­sands of Bri­tons do ev­ery year. Op­po­si­tion Labour Party leader Jeremy Cor­byn has ac­cused Cameron of mis­lead­ing the pub­lic by is­su­ing what he de­scribed as four “weasel-worded” state­ments in as many days be­fore fi­nally ad­mit­ting that he had ben­e­fited from his fa­ther’s fund. Af­ter the tax records were dis­closed, Cor­byn told the BBC the prime min­is­ter still had ques­tions to an­swer about what prof­its he had made from the off­shore in­vest­ment prior to 2010, when he sold a share worth about 30,000 pounds. Cameron is not ac­cused of hav­ing done any­thing il­le­gal, and the fact that he is a wealthy man who en­joyed a very priv­i­leged up­bring­ing is noth­ing new. But the past week has been dam­ag­ing be­cause the drip-drip of care­fully worded state­ments be­fore the fuller dis­clo­sure cre­ated the im­pres­sion he may have had some­thing to hide. ‘Morally wrong’ In ad­di­tion, Cameron stands ac­cused of hypocrisy af­ter por­tray­ing his gov­ern­ment as be­ing in the fore­front of global ef­forts to crack down on off­shore tax havens. A com­ment he made in 2012 about a fa­mous co­me­dian’s le­gal tax avoid­ance scheme be­ing “morally wrong” has been­wide­lyquot­ed­by­media. Scores of politi­cians and busi­ness fig­ures have been im­pli­cate­dinthePana­maPapers, in­clud­ing the prime min­is­ter of Ice­land who has since stepped down. The 11.5 mil­lion doc­u­ments leaked from the Pana­ma­nian law firm Mos­sack Fon­seca de­tail the cre­ation of more than 200,000 com­pa­nies in off­shore tax havens. Cameron said on Thurs­day his fa­ther’s in­vest­ment trust was not set up to avoid tax but to in­vest in dol­lar-de­nom­i­nat­ed­shares.He­saidhe had paid all taxes due on his own in­vest­ment. The doc­u­ments dis­closed by Down­ing Street on Sun­day, from RNS Char­tered Ac­coun­tants, show Cameron paid tax of £75,898 on in­come of £200,307 in the 2014-2015 fi­nan­cial year, the most re­cent one in­cluded. Seek­ing to fur­ther re­gain the ini­tia­tive, Cameron also an­nounced on Sun­day a new task­force, jointly led by Bri­tain’s tax author­ity and Na­tional Crime Agency, to buil­don­the­workBri­tain­has done to tackle money laun­der­ing and tax eva­sion. But Labour’s fi­nance pol­icy chief, John McDon­nell, said this was in­ad­e­quate and rather than a task­force there should­bea­fullpub­licin­quiry. He also said Cameron’s gov­ern­ment had cut re­sources at the tax author­ity as part of its fis­calaus­ter­i­ty­drive,andthat hadleft­the­bodyunequal­toits task. Reuters

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