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For the Love of the Game: Corruption & Sports NGOs

tennis-player-1246768_1280This article, written by GRC Solutions Expertise Panel member Jeremy Sandbrook and co-authored with Liz Burton,  examines some of the types of corruption that has taken place within sports NGOs, why they are so susceptible to it, and what some of the potential solutions are to solving the problem.

While sport is now the dominating source of entertainment worldwide, it has a darker, shadier under-belly it just can’t seem to shake-off – Corruption.  Sports NGOs are particularly vulnerable with bribery, match-fixing, extortion, doping and money laundering now common place.

 

Sports NGOs and ‘Corruption as usual’

It seems that barely a month passes without yet another report of corruption in sports being splashed across newspaper headlines.  These include members of FIFA’s executive committee accepting bribes, a former president of CONCACAF charged with fraud and money laundering, hosting nations paying bribes to win Olympic hosting rights, match-fixing, and the IAAF’s involvement in corruption and cover ups.

This phenomenon isn’t just limited to football and athletics however, with the following examples showing just how wide spread the issue is:

  • Cricket has witnessed allegations of both spot-fixing and match-fixing involving players from Pakistan, England, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Sir Lanka and Kenya.  There have also been on-going match-fixing allegations made in relation to the Indian Premier League (the most lucrative cricket event in the world), with two of the league’s eight teams recently suspended for two years over a corruption scandal;
  • Tennis is also currently undergoing a crisis as allegations of match fixing engulf the sport;
  • Cycling has for many years been dogged with allegations of illegal doping, with the issue only coming to a head when the International Cycling Union was accused of knowingly protecting Lance Armstrong – cycling’s long time poster boy – against doping allegations; and
  • Badminton, boxing, handball and other sports, including US collegiate sports, have all suffered from similar credibility gaps.

It is clear from this that there are serious underlying issues that sports NGOs need to address in order to clean up their respective sports.

First charges under the UK Bribery Act

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has secured its first charges under the UK Bribery Act. The SFO’s criminal investigation revealed Gary West, 52, James Whale 38, and Stuart Stone, 28, of Sustainable AgroEnergy (‘SAE’) masterminded a 23 million pound biofuel investment scam.

The three men falsely and deliberately misled investors between 2011 and 2012 into thinking that SAE owned property in Cambodia. Investors were told Jatropha trees, once considered a promising plant in the quest for oil, were planted on the land and that an insurance policy in place protected the investors from loss in case the crops failed.

David Green, Director of the SFO, was reported as saying, “These three individuals preyed on investors, many of whom were duped into investing life savings and pension funds”.

While Whale was charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and fraudulent trading, West and Stone were convicted of bribery offences, in addition to other charges such as conspiracy to furnish false information, making it the first time the SFO secured convictions under UK’s Bribery Act. Specifically, West and Stone were both found guilty of offences of bribing another person and being bribed under the legislation.

London’s Southwark Crown Court sentenced West, Whale and Stone to prison for 13, 9 and 6 years respectively.

The UK Bribery Act is considered one of the world’s toughest laws against bribery and corruption. Individuals can face up to 10 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine and have their assets confiscated. The legislation also grants the SFO with extraterritorial jurisdiction that is the power to prosecute any company or individual, even if the alleged bribery took place outside of the UK, provided there is still a sufficient link to the UK.

Contact GRC Solutions today for more information about our anti-bribery and corruption training courses.

Also find out more about our UK Bribery Act training course.

Source: Yahoo News UK and the Serious Fraud Office

World Bank ban damages Chinese suitor’s chances

fraud
The recent signing of a free-trade agreement between China and Australia has made investing in Australian companies more attractive to Chinese buyers. But one Chinese construction company faces significant challenges as it tries to purchase one of Australia’s largest contracting businesses.

China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) is believed to be the front runner to purchase Leighton Holding’s John Holland Group. But CCCC is the successor to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which was debarred by the World Bank in 2009 after an investigation suggested it had engaged in fraudulent conduct concerning road tenders in the Philippines. CCCC was itself banned in 2011 due to its relationship with CRBC.

CCCC’s ban from World Bank projects raises concerns for Australian government bodies seeking to award infrastructure projects. Amar Flora, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Sydney’s John Grill Centre for Project Leadership, has argued that Australian governments should be wary of foreign investors with chequered pasts in the industry.

According to the Financial Review, Mr Flora has asked, “Is the Australian government willing and capable of providing quality assurance on Chinese investment, and in ensuring that the Chinese investment complies with Australian regulatory frameworks?”

If CCCC wins its bid for John Holland, it is unlikely that the scrutiny of its past will stop any time soon. The case highlights the significant financial and reputational damage that can result from allegations of bribery and corruption, even if unproven.

Talk to us today about our Fraud AwarenessAnti-bribery and Corruption and Anti-money Laundering courses.

Source: Australian Financial Review