TIME Cambodia

This Country Just Made It Legal for Cops to Keep 70% of All the Traffic Fines They Collect

A Cambodian traffic police drives a car
Tang Chhin Sothy—AFP/Getty Images A Cambodian traffic police officer drives a car during a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Feb. 14, 2012

Officials do not foresee a rash of spurious fines being handed out as a consequence

Drivers in Cambodia have a lot to contend with: cavernous potholes, weaving motorcycles kicking up clouds of choking dust and noodle hawkers trundling down the “fast” lane. Now motorists may find their pockets as ravaged as their nerves, after officials announced a fivefold bump in traffic fines and gave permission for issuing officers to keep 70% of all cash collected.

The new rules, coming into force in January, are an attempt to curb corruption, reports the Phnom Penh Post. Currently, traffic cops keep half of much smaller penalties, meaning that many supplement their meager salaries by soliciting bribes.

The current $1.25 official penalty for not wearing a car seat belt, for example, will rise to $6.25, with the officer allowed to keep $4.38. Of the remaining 30%, some 25% will go to the station where the officer is based, with the final 5% sent to the Ministry of Finance.

“We plan to issue an edict in the future to encourage and promote this measure,” Ti Long, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Public Order Department, said at a press conference on Monday.

Local road-safety analyst Chariya Ear, for one, applauded the move. “It will be a good idea to give more incentives to the officers who are doing their jobs,” he told the Post.

However, not all drivers agree, fearing that, in a nation ranked 156 out of 175 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, officers will hand out spurious punishments to feather their nests.

Phnom Penh resident Gary Morrison, 49, says he already pays traffic fines on a regular basis, ostensibly for “being a foreigner,” even though he has all the correct documentation for his vehicle. “So,” he says sardonically, “it’s nice to know they are encouraging the police to fine me even more.”

TIME Malaysia

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Just Fired His Deputy and Attorney General

Najib Razak
Joshua Paul—AP Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses delegates during his speech at the Malaysia's ruling party United Malays National Organization's anniversary celebration in Kuala Lumpur on May 11, 2015

Najib is under increasing pressure over leaked confidential documents

(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, stung by allegations that he received some $700 million in government money, on Tuesday fired the attorney general who had been investigating him and a deputy who has been among his most prominent critics.

Najib is under increasing pressure over leaked confidential documents that allegedly show that the money, from state investment fund 1MDB, went into his personal accounts.

Najib announced over national television Tuesday that his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin will be replaced by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the former home minister. He also dropped four other ministers to strengthen his administration and ensure they can “work as a team.”

“The decision to replace Muhyiddin was a very difficult one, but I had to do it so a strong team can move forward,” Najib said.

Muhyiddin has been critical of the government’s handling of 1MDB’s massive debt and has called on Najib to explain the alleged funds transfer.

Earlier Tuesday, the government announced it had terminated the services of Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail due to health reasons. Gani, when contacted by Malay Mail Online, said he had not been aware of the decision.

Gani confirmed earlier this month that he had received documents from investigators that linked Najib and 1MDB. The existence of the documents, which allegedly show $700 million was wired from entities linked to 1MDB into Najib’s accounts, were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Najib has not disputed the existence of the accounts or the receipt of the funds. He has only said that he has never used government funds for personal gains, and called the allegations a political sabotage.

The documents sent to the attorney general pave the way for possible criminal charges, which would be a first for a Malaysian prime minister.

Najib’s ruling National Front coalition has been in power since independence from Britain in 1957. However, support for the coalition has eroded in the last two general elections. In 2013, it won the polls but lost the popular vote for the first time.

TIME Kenya

Obama Electrifies Kenyan Youth With a Speech From the Heart

Obama offered a prescription for the country's future, one that puts and end to corruption and to traditions that are holding the country back

Despite longstanding family ties to Kenya, U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Nairobi—the first by a serving U.S. President—has been largely an official affair, defined by bilateral meetings and entrepreneurship conferences.

That all changed on Sunday, when he addressed Kenyan youth at a sports stadium and spoke from the heart. As his convoy turned into Nairobi’s SafariCom Arena, he finally received the exuberant welcome that security precautions had all but denied him since his arrival two nights prior.

Crowds of men, women and children, some waving flags and banners welcoming him back to his father’s homeland, thronged the highway. Inside the arena, some 4,500 students, government officials and civil society leaders jumped to their feet as Obama’s half sister, Auma Obama, introduced a man who really had no need for introduction. By the time Obama took the podium, the crowd was ecstatic. “I love you!” shouted a member of the audience. “I love you too,” Obama said to the crowd.

Part state address, part commencement speech, Obama’s 40-minute talk started with a personal reminiscence of his first trip to Kenya in 1998, when he was a young law student seeking to learn more about his roots.

On that trip, he said, the airline lost his bags. “That doesn’t happen on Air Force One,” he joked.

He spoke of Kenya’s turbulent history, and of his grandfather’s job as a domestic servant for a colonial family, who, even as a grown man, was called “boy.” He referenced his father’s disappointment upon returning to Kenya after an education in the United States “in part because he couldn’t reconcile the ideas that he had for his young country with the hard realities that had confronted him. ” Those stories “show the enormous barriers that so many Kenyans faced just one or two generations ago.”

Kenya had changed, Obama noted. “A young, ambitious Kenyan today should not have to do what my grandfather did, and serve a foreign master. You don’t need to do what my father did, and leave your home in order to get a good education and access to opportunity. Because of Kenya’s progress, because of your potential, you can build your future right here, right now,” he said, to an explosion of applause.

But it is still up to Kenyans to make sure that the trajectory of history continues to moved towards progress and opportunity, so that this new generation would not be disappointed like his father’s. Kenya, Obama said, “is at a crossroads, a moment filled with peril, but also enormous promise.”

To achieve that promise, Obama offered some hard-hitting prescriptions. Outdated traditions, the oppression of women, child marriages, ethnic tensions and the “cancer of corruption” must be done away with, he said. Ending corruption doesn’t start and end with tough laws, he added. “It requires a commitment by the entire nation—leaders and citizens—to change habits and to change culture.

To the surprise and delight of many in the audience, Obama spent several minutes speaking on women’s equality, girls’ right to an education, and even female genital mutilation, which is still practiced in some parts of Kenya. “Treating women and girls as second-class citizens, those are bad traditions,” he said. “They need to change. They’re holding you back.”

To drive home his point, he repeated himself. “These traditions may date back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.”

Sandra Chebet, a 16-year-old student in the red and green trimmed blazer of Nairobi’s Maryhill Girls High School, said Obama’s stance on tradition was her favorite part. “For a long time people have said that women could not be successful in business and in government because of their traditional roles. Now I know that even though I am a girl, I can also be the best pediatrician. Actually, I knew that already, but after Obama’s speech, now everyone in Kenya knows that too.”

Obama also emphasized a need for inclusivity, referencing some of the government’s ham-fisted attempts to curb terrorism by isolating and alienating minority Muslim groups in Kenya.

The Somali terror group al Shabaab, which has killed hundreds of Kenyans in terror attacks over the past several years, is a real threat, said Obama. But “it is important to remember that violent extremists want us to turn against one another… Extremists who prey on distrust must be defeated by communities who stand together and stand for something different.”

He cited the American experience with its own Muslim minority, saying “those minorities make enormous contributions to our countries. These are our brothers; they are our sisters. And so in both our countries, we have to reject calls that allow us to be divided.”

Fifteen year-old Hamdi Ibrahim, draped in a white headcovering that went down to her waist, was delighted. “To see him standing and defending Muslims makes me feel empowered, and makes me feel that I have a support system.”

Upon departing the stage at the conclusion of his speech, Obama was thronged with fans waving camera phones and seeking selfies with the president.

Twenty-one year old medical student James Mugo managed to shake Obama’s hand, something he says he will remember for the rest of his life. “He held my hand for, like, five seconds. It was electrifying.”

Mugo, like many Africans, is no stranger to well-meaning lectures from Western leaders who say they know what Africa needs to progress. But this time it was different. “We heard some hard truths about Kenya’s problems, but it was not with chastisement or from a position of superiority,” says Mugo. “The fact that this time the advice was coming from someone who knows Kenya, who is of Kenya, that means it will have a much stronger impact.”

He has no doubt that Kenyan youth will take the messages to heart. “Obama’s speech has given us all great encouragement to be better as a nation,” he said, before melting back into a crowd of young Kenyans already starting to compare their selfies with the American president.

Read next: Watch Obama Steal the Show by Dancing the Lipala During His Visit to Kenya

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TIME Soccer

Paraguay Asked to Extradite South American Soccer Official Over FIFA Corruption Charges

CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz speaks during a press conference in Luque, Paraguay, on April 23, 2013.
Norberto Duarte —AFP/Getty Images CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz speaks during a press conference in Luque, Paraguay, on April 23, 2013.

Nicolás Leoz was indicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering and bribery

The U.S. has asked Paraguay to extradite Nicolás Leoz, the former president of South America’s soccer confederation, Conmebol, and a suspect in a huge corruption scandal at the heart of the world soccer’s governing body FIFA.

Leoz, 86, has been under house arrest in the Paraguayan capital, Asunción, since June 1, reports Reuters.

“We have received the documentation from the U.S. embassy and have forwarded it to the Supreme Court,” Juana Núñez, the ministry’s liaison with Paraguay’s justice system, told Reuters. Núñez added that there was no deadline for when authorities must decide on the extradition request.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted 14 soccer officials, including Leoz, as well as businessmen and marketing executives on charges of bribery, racketeering and money laundering.

Leoz was president of Conmebol from 1986 to 2013 and was a former member of FIFA’s executive committee. He was not in Geneva in May when seven FIFA executives were arrested by Swiss police, although he was later detained by Paraguayan authorities.

Leoz has maintained his innocence.

[Reuters]

TIME Soccer

FIFA’s Former VP Pays Most of His $10 Million Police Bond in Luxury Goods

65th FIFA Congress Previews
Alexander Hassenstein — FIFA via Getty Images Jeffrey Webb, FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President looks on during the CONCACAF confederation meeting at Renaissance Hotel on May 26, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland

Diamonds are clearly a former FIFA official's best friend

What can 11 luxury watches, a diamond wedding ring, a 401(k) account, three high-performance cars and 10 properties buy? In the case of Jeffrey Webb, an ex-FIFA executive, it’ll secure a $10 million bond releasing him from police custody.

Webb, a former vice president of soccer’s scandal-hit world governing body, was one of seven officials extradited from Switzerland in May for corruption. He secured the bond by putting up many of his most prized luxury items, according to the AP. The 50-year-old has also been asked to pay for electronic monitoring while he is under home detention.

On Saturday, he had pleaded not guilty in a New York court to charges of bribery and racketeering. Originally from the Cayman Islands, Webb is the first of nine soccer officials and five marketing executives to be indicted for a $150 million bribery scandal that has brought FIFA to its knees.

The AP reports that the watches included five Rolexes and a Breitling, while the cars included a 2015 Ferrari and a 2014 Range Rover. His wife’s jewelry box is probably much depleted by now as well — a diamond bracelet, a diamond and pearl necklace, one pair of pearl earrings, and one pair of long-hanging diamond earrings have also been handed over as a part of the bond.

[AP]

TIME Soccer

France’s Michel Platini Is Hot Favorite to Become the Next President of FIFA

UEFA President Michel Platini holds a news conference a year before the start of Euro 2016, in Paris
Charles Platiau—Reuters UEFA President Michel Platini holds a news conference a year before the start of Euro 2016, in Paris, France, June 10, 2015.

Four of six world soccer confederations would reportedly support the current UEFA chief's candidacy

Amid widespread speculation over who will be the next president of soccer’s scandal-hit world governing body FIFA, France’s Michel Platini has emerged as an immensely popular contender among more than half of the organization’s constituent bodies — should he decide to stand for the election next year.

Four out of six continental confederations under FIFA would back Platini — who currently heads the European confederation UEFA — in the election, a source close to UEFA told Reuters.

The confederations representing Asia (AFC), North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF), and South America (CONMEBOL) have reportedly declared their support for the legendary midfielder, although none of them were available to confirm. Africa (CAF) and Oceania (OCF) comprise the rest of FIFA’s immediate subdivisions.

The 60-year-old Frenchman, known as one of the world’s best during his playing career in the ’70s and ’80s, has not yet decided whether he will stand for the election to replace FIFA’s disgraced former president Sepp Blatter. Blatter announced his resignation last month as a corruption scandal engulfed world soccer’s apex body, and FIFA has set Feb. 26 for fresh elections.

Read next: Reform Will Top the Agenda at FIFA’s Executive Committee Meeting

TIME Soccer

Reform Will Top the Agenda at FIFA’s Executive-Committee Meeting

Morocco FIFA WCup Probe
Christophe Ena—AP Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, attends a press conference in Marrakech, Morocco, on Dec. 19, 2014

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is hoping to avoid the appointment of an external party to oversee change

FIFA’s executive committee will meet Monday to discuss reforms, including term limits, checks on integrity and greater financial transparency, after a series of scandals revealed extensive corruption in the global soccer governing body.

The process will be led by Domenico Scala, a FIFA official and board member for a pharmaceutical company, who will also supervise the election for current FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s successor, the Guardian says.

The fallout from the corruption scandal continues to mire the organization. Most recently, the BBC reported that former CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, who was the first of seven FIFA officials to be extradited from Switzerland to the U.S., pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of racketeering, wire fraud and accepting millions of dollars in bribes. He has been placed under house arrest with his bail set at $10 million.

Blatter is trying to avoid an outside review process for FIFA, even though corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola and anticorruption agencies alike have publicly demanded independent oversight of the organization’s reforms, the Guardian says.

For now, Scala will be largely responsible for the review procedures. According to the Guardian, Monday’s executive meeting will also start the process to find Blatter’s replacement, after the president agreed to step down from his position between December and March.

[Guardian]

TIME Soccer

Switzerland Extradites FIFA Official to U.S.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter Announces Resignation
Philipp Schmidli—Getty Images A FIFA logo sits on the rooftop at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich on June 3, 2015

He was handed over to three U.S. police officers who accompanied him on the flight to New York

(GENEVA) — One of the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich as part of a corruption probe has been extradited to the United States, the Swiss Justice Ministry said Thursday.

The Federal Office of Justice said the man, whom it did not identify, was extradited on Wednesday.

“He was handed over to a three-man U.S. police escort in Zurich who accompanied him on the flight to New York,” the ministry said in a statement.

The official agreed last week to be extradited, unlike six others who are fighting extradition.

The extradited man is accused of “accepting bribes totaling millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights to various sports marketing firms and keeping the money for himself,” the Swiss justice office said last week.

All seven men were arrested on May 27 in dawn raids on a luxury hotel in Zurich by Swiss federal police at the request of American federal agencies.

They include FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay. Both have been suspended from football duty by FIFA’s ethics committee.

A total of 14 men — nine football officials and five marketing executives — were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in May, and a further four had their guilty pleas unsealed.

They are alleged to have taken part in a racketeering conspiracy paying bribes of more than $150 million over a 24-year period. The payments were tied to the award of broadcast and hosting rights for the World Cup, continental championships in North and South America, and regional club tournaments.

U.S. authorities have said more indictments should follow, and FIFA President Sepp Blatter is a target of the widening case.

Under pressure from the investigation, and a separate Swiss federal probe of money laundering linked to FIFA’s award of 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights, Blatter announced on June 2 that he would leave office within months.

TIME Courts

Appeals Court Upholds Former Virginia Governor’s Convictions

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. on May 12, 2015.
Steve Helber—AP Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. on May 12, 2015.

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was convicted of bribery

(RICHMOND, Va.) — A federal appeals court upheld former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s public corruption convictions Friday.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was unanimous.

“Appellant received a fair trial and was duly convicted by a jury of his fellow Virginians,” Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote in the 89-page opinion. “We have no cause to undo what has been done.”

A jury in September found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of doing favors for former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. Williams was seeking state-backed research for his company’s nutritional supplements.

“I am greatly disappointed with the court’s decision today,” McDonnell said in written statement. “During my nearly 40 years of public service, I have never violated my oath of office nor disregarded the law. I remain highly confident in the justice system and the grace of our God that full vindication will come in time.”

The former governor, once widely considered a possible running mate to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was sentenced in January to two years in prison. His wife was sentenced in February to one year and one day in prison. Both are free on bond while they pursue appeals.

McDonnell could appeal the panel’s ruling to the full appeals court or to the U.S. Supreme Court. His attorneys said in a written statement that they are examining their options.

“The fight for justice for our client is far from over,” the attorneys said.

The appeals court has not yet scheduled oral arguments in Maureen McDonnell’s case.

McDonnell claimed in his appeal that his convictions on 11 counts were based on an overly broad definition of what amounts to an “official act” under federal bribery law. His lawyers argued that McDonnell provided only routine “ingratiation and access” that courts have upheld as legal.

Federal prosecutors described the case as one of clear-cut bribery.

TIME Soccer

Chuck Blazer Expelled From FIFA for Life

FIFA Blazer Soccer
Wilfredo Lee—AP CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, left, and president Jack Warner chat during a news conference in Miami on Jan. 28, 2008

Blazer served on FIFA's executive panel for 16 years until 2013

(ZURICH) — FIFA’s ethics committee says it has expelled former executive committee member Chuck Blazer from football for bribery and other corruption.

FIFA’s ethics panel says American Blazer “was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, payment and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes and kickbacks as well as other money-making schemes.”

Blazer’s guilty pleas on widespread corruption charges were unsealed by the U.S. Department of Justice in May.

Blazer was a cooperating witness with United States federal agencies since 2011 after his tax affairs were investigated.

FIFA’s ethics committee says its case used “the latest facts presented by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.”

Blazer served on FIFA’s executive panel for 16 years until 2013.

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