Shapira, Lindenstrauss tell MKs of efforts to improve country’s record on money-laundering, other corruption.
|State Comptroller Joseph Shapira confers with his predecessor, Micha Lindenstrauss, at the Knesset, January 8, 2014.. (photo credit:Yonah Jeremy Bob)
The meeting of the Lobby for the Struggle Against Corruption in the Public Sector was attended by Joseph Shapira (current comptroller), Micha Lindenstrauss (former comptroller), Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, opposition leader (Labor) Isaac Herzog, Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich and other top officials.
The two reports, which came out last month, were from a monitoring body of the Council of Europe, Moneyval, which harshly criticized Israel for being its only member country failing on certain obligations in fighting both money-laundering and terrorism financing, and a report by the Israeli chapter of the International Transparency NGO (run by Lindenstrauss) placing Israel 23rd out of 34 OECD countries in fighting corruption.
During the hearing, Shapira announced that he had “decided to start a new beginning in checking the claims of Rafi Rotem,” a former top tax official who has been claiming for years that he was fired improperly for trying to serve as a whistle-blower regarding illegalities by the Israel Tax Authority.
Rotem has had supporters from many corners calling for some time for the state to grant him a special whistle- blower status and to compensate him for alleged retaliation against him that reportedly was a factor leading to him being ruined financially.
Shapira also cited a number of his efforts to fight corruption and ensure ethical conduct, including an initiative for the state to finance legal defense costs for whistle-blowers when those whom they blow the whistle on try to sue and silence them.
Another initiative was to obtain protective court orders to prevent firings and other retaliation against whistle-blowers, he said.
Channel 10 journalist Raviv Drucker briefly had a spat with Shapira in which he implied that Shapira had been weaker in hunting down corruption by top officials than Lindenstrauss had been.
Shapira took exception to Drucker’s comments and, sitting next to Lindenstrauss, emphasized that “Lindenstrauss and I are together [in fighting corruption], and if the press or someone says we disagree, they are wrong.”
Turning to Lindenstrauss he said, “What you are doing is very important.”
Lindenstrauss said the work of organizations attending the meeting against corruption was “further praise of Israeli democracy” and sounded a positive note in fighting corruption despite the problems described in his report.
Livni said that the reports showing problems with Israel’s efforts against corruption were valuable, but that whether the data is not ignored, but is used to fix the problem, is important.
“Not everyone is ready to fully” address corruption, she warned. “We need to do more things in the open and not behind closed doors.”
Livni further noted that those who were corrupt were “very strong, and it is hard to get to them and to deal with the real issues.”
Shapira had sounded a similar theme, saying, “Corruption now wears different clothes, and evolves, becoming more sophisticated all the time.”
Other actions Shapira said he was pushing for to fight corruption, particularly surrounding elections, were heavy fines for election-related violations, publicizing the names of guarantors of contributions for candidates and not only their donors, and calling on the state to finance primaries to even the playing field between richer and poorer potential candidates.
It spurns the UN Charter, major treaties, and other international law. It violates its own. It gets away with murder because world leaders mattering most do nothing.
It's contemptuous of anyone not Jewish. Arabs are considered subhuman. Militancy, belligerence, and institutionalized racism reflect official policies.
Israel is also a failed state. Separate and unequal is official policy. One-fifth of its population is considered a fifth column threat.
Neoliberal harshness harms most Jews. Arab citizens fare worst of all. Wealthy and powerful elites run Israel for their own benefit. Most others lose out.
International laws and standards are spurned. Israel does what it pleases with impunity. World opinion is ignored. Democracy exists in name only. Hypocrisy reflects official policy.
Israel is unfit to live in. Many Jews vote with their feet and leave. Others consider doing it. One day perhaps most Israelis no longer will want any part a nation threatening humanity.
Corruption reflects Israeli society. On October 26, 2010, Haaretz headlined "Israel ranks among Western world's most corrupt countries."
Transparency International's (TI) assessment was cited. It rated Israel number 30 on its 178-nation list. Number one ranking reflects least corrupt.
Compared to OECD countries, Israel fared much worse. Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore scored best. TI's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) rated Israel 6.1 out of 10.
It ranks countries according to perceived public sector corruption. Israel placed 22nd out of 33 OECD members.
TI calls itself "the global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption, brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world."
Its own transparency is lacking. Its reports are predictably politicized. They consistently understate Western corruption. Other parts of the world score worse. Independent nations are unfairly targeted.
Washington and other Western governments provide most funding. They get what they pay for. Suspect information is used. Countries like Venezuela are grossly mistreated.
In 2008, TI falsified information about PDVSA. It claimed the state-owned oil company failed to disclose important financial information relating to revenues and royalties paid. It also said proper audits weren't conducted.
It rated PDVSA lowest among oil companies in 42 countries. Data TI said was withheld was publicly available. Proper audits were conducted. Claiming otherwise was false.
Anti-Chavista information was used. The Cundacion Momento de la Gente group provided it. Washington's National Endowment for Democracy (NEW) funds the organization. It gets what it pays for.
In May 2010, the OECD accepted Israel as a member. It did so despite its deplorable human rights record, gross wealth disparity, eroding social justice, and extreme belligerence.
Haaretz said Israeli corruption hadn't improved since 2007. Compared to other countries, its position is deteriorating. TI CEO Galia Sagy said:
"As opposed to Israel, other countries are improving, and that is a problem."
"Even though corruption is discussed and condemned, politicians are not doing enough to deal with it. If the political leadership does not prioritize this issue, nothing will change."
On December 1, 2011, Haaretz headlined "Corruption in Israel drops to record depths, new survey shows," saying:
TI's Sagy said Israel's ranking was affected by the number of high officials indicted. "The accrual of corruption allegations filters down and affects perception," she said.
TI first ranked Israel in 1997. At 5.8, it scored lowest last year. It ranked 36th out of 183 nations surveyed. The higher the number, the greater the corruption.
Israel ranked 25th out of 34 OECD states. Its score either replicated or slightly bettered St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bhutan, Malta, and Puerto Rico.
New Zealand, Denmark and Finland scored best. Somalia was worst. Sagy wasn't optimistic about Israel improving. "We don't see actions designed to halt the downward slide," she said.
"The ties between wealth and government need to be severed, as corruption is one of the main causes of inequality."
It's true throughout Western societies. America by far is most corrupt. Funding Washington provides TI gets what it pays for.
Its reports downplay US corruption, extreme wealth disparity, eroding social justice, deplorable human rights record, and war it wages on humanity.
Israel goes all out to replicate the worst of its paymaster partner. On December 22, 2011, Haaretz headlined "Corruption in Israel must be uprooted," saying:
An end of year State Comptroller's report raised concerns. It said rules applying to central governance with respect to money and power ties also affect local authorities.
Israel's cabinet and Knesset decisions affect all Israelis. At the same time, their main contact with government is local. "Everyday life is determined by the decisions made by the local authority or municipality council, and especially by its head."
The State Comptroller's report raised red flags. Corrupt mayors were named. They're "good to those who have been good to them, at the expense of the public and public funds."
Conduct reflecting criminality, approaching it, or skirting it was suggested. Security issues were raised. Local authorities have flawed measures in place to handle them.
Corruption and negligence issues were discussed. Ordinary Israelis lose out. The comptrollers report discussed what's ongoing. Little is being done nationwide to change things.
On December 5, Haaretz headlined "Israel ranks 39 on list of most corrupt countries," saying:
Its score keeps falling. Year-over-year, it dropped from 36 to 39.
TI said malfeasance forced several leaders from office last year. Little changed. Corruption and abuse of power persist globally.
Two-thirds of the countries ranked reflect extreme corruption. Distorted measures excluded America, Israel, and other Western states among the world's worst.
Independent states Washington targets scored poorly. Rankings were grossly distorted. Somalia ranked 174, North Korea 174, Afghanistan 174, Sudan 173, Venezuela 165, Syria 144, Russia 133, Iran 133, Lebanon 128, Belarus 123, Ecuador 118, Bolivia 105, China 80, and Cuba 58.
Most major Western countries got undeserved high rankings. EU states affected by financial crisis ranked poorly. Greece was 94. Italy scored 72.
Israel scored lower than Slovenia, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Estonia, Botswana, UAE, and Qatar. It should have ranked much lower on TI's list.
Its managing director, Corbus de Swardt, called corruption "the world's most talked about problem. The world's leading economies should lead by example."
They should "mak(e) sure that their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable."
He didn't explain their involvement in massive corruption. As a result, their high rankings distort reality. America is the world's largest economy by far. US corruption is worst of all.
London may be the world's most corrupt city. It's an international financial center. It's the world's largest. Over 20% of all international bank lending occurs there and more than 30% of all foreign exchange transactions.
Over 240 of the world's largest banks operate key parts of their international business there. Economist Jack Rasmus calls it the world's "cowboy finance capital."
It's the epicenter of libor rigging. Binary Economics Professor Rodney Shakespeare told Progressive Radio News listeners that amounts involved exceed global GDP 15 or 20-fold.
Multi-trillions of dollars are manipulated. Liborgate reflects massive fraud. It persists because nothing is done to stop it.
Government and business collude. Doing so facilitates massive corruption. It reflects business as usual on Wall Street and in other financial capitals.
Israel is mired in corruption. So are other Western states. TI rankings exclude reality. They downplay extreme corruption where it most needs exposing.
Money buys influence. Washington, major Western states, and Israel get the best rankings money can buy.