corruption

Zandre Campos: To Fight Corruption Change the Rules of the Game

In this article, ABO Capital CEO, Zandre Eudenio De Campos Finda talks about the short-sightedness of corruption in government and raising corruption awareness through education of the youth.

Source:angolabusinessdaily.com

The world is full of problems that are in desperate need of solving. Climate change, poverty, healthcare and hate speech; there is no shortage of work to be done. Wherever we are, our mission is to put our best foot forward and contribute whatever we can to building a better future.

We have all experienced the feeling of doing what is right, whether it is organizing a local park clean up, developing a new medication that will save lives or even just helping an elderly citizen cross the street. The capacity to do good is in all of us. We are living proof of it.

However, there are those who fight against us. They do not care about the collective and see the world as their own personal playground. They have power, money, and resources, many times most of which they did not even earn themselves. Yet they still feel like they are entitled to everything around them, no matter the social, political, economic or environmental costs.

Corruption is a worldwide problem. While some nations feel its effects more than others, no country is immune from its cancerous impact. It has inserted itself everywhere; politics, business, international affairs, etc. It seems as if every week a story breaks about a politician or business tycoon being investigated or indicted for fraud, bribery or corruption. Just recently, Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani real estate mogul, paid a $248 million fine to the United Kingdom to settle a corruption investigation.

But corruption is not just a flaw of the high and mighty. Every echelon of society faces this issue. Have you ever heard of Flagler County? Me neither until a few days ago, when I read that Belle Terre Elementary School in Palm Coast, Florida is under investigation for misappropriation and/or embezzlement of funds, sexual harassment, race and gender discrimination, libel and defamation, gross mismanagement and repeated violation of whistleblower laws.

Source:flaglercounty.org

I understand what the residents of Flagler County are going through. For years, my home continent has been a breeding ground for corruption and abuse of power, with politicians stealing from government funds to fill their already full pockets. Bribery is rampant across the continent, stifling economic growth and hurting the market. Officials use money that should be going to infrastructure, welfare and healthcare and use it to buy luxury homes or Swiss sports cars.

This can all be very disheartening. If even a public school is not free from the tentacles of corruption, what is? And, more importantly, what can we do to stop it?

Corruption always has and always will exist. This is a reality we must accept. There will always be people putting themselves above, as opposed to besides, others. And some of those people will end up with money and power, making it easy for them to take advantage of the system.

Thankfully, there are a host of journalists, NGOs and government agencies who do their best to prevent and stop corruption. Belle Terre Elementary School’s crimes were exposed because of those groups and individuals who, day in and day out, work to ensure that justice prevails. And in my hometown of Angola, much has been done by the new government to help lessen corruption. Including termination, freezing of assets and even prosecution of those who have abused their power.

But journalists and government agents cannot be the only answer. Not all journalists are as reputable and credible as others.  In fact, some journalists take advantage of corrupt environments and make false accusations that damage the image and name of good people. So, what can we – the shopkeepers, the entrepreneurs, the drivers, the farmers – do to help stop corruption?

While we might not be able to fight corruption directly, we can fight it indirectly by simply being the best we can be. We must stand our ground and not let our worst instincts get the best of us. We must be better than those who call themselves our leaders and be an example for those that come after us.

Source:ua.usembassy.gov

This means that we must be honest in business. Prices must be reasonable and fair, and we must not cheat our neighbor. Taxes should be paid, no matter how much we may dislike it. We are all part of larger communities. If we skimp our share, everyone around us suffers.

But it does not stop at business. Our character expands beyond the walls of our shops and offices. Volunteering and participating in civic projects takes the power out of the hands of the corrupt and into ours. Don’t like how your neighborhood looks and can’t get the government to clean it up? Create a coalition of supportive neighbors and act. The action gets things done.

Beyond our own actions, one of the most critical steps we can take in the fight against corruption is the education of our youth. Worldwide, and in Africa specifically, educating children and teens on what corruption is, and how they can do their part to both avoid and fight it, will be key to the success of the continent. In order to stem the flow of corruption, the next generation needs to not only be aware of the corruption they will face in their everyday lives but how to make a difference.

Corruption, with its promises of wealth and power, can be tempting and difficult to resist. But that is only the case because we, as a society, have created an environment that allows corruption to thrive. We must do more than refuse to play the game; we must change the rules entirely. We must set up a new board, one where corruption is viewed as a parasite, not as a saving grace.

It all comes down to integrity. How do you hold yourself up? How do people see you? If we can stand our ground, we can show the next generation what it means to be a citizen of the world. We can show them that they are a part of something greater, and their needs work hand in hand with their neighbors.

Source:news.europawire.eu

About Zandre Eugenio De Campos Finda

Zandre Eugenio De Campos Finda is one of the great, innovative business leaders and global entrepreneurs emerging out of Africa. Currently, he is chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, an international investment firm headquartered in Angola with holdings throughout the globe. His career has been dedicated to fighting corruption and bettering the country of Angola as well as advancing the likes of other African nations. A big believer in the power of the youth in Africa, Zandre Finda has a commitment to education including investing in Complexo Escolar Privado Internacional (CEPI) school in Angola and sponsoring a scholarship program that paid for a semester of college tuition for a student based in the united states.

Foreigners warned against investing in Greek property

Every summer, hundreds of non-suspecting foreigners, arriving with the best intentions, are caught by the illusion that there is a real investment opportunity in Greek property. This could not be further from the truth as more and more reports emerge of a highly corrupt system that leaves foreigners open to extortion, dynamic pricing by gangs of people who are largely a law unto themselves – and a situation where they are trapped after investing sums of money. As reported by Newstrail, Greece does not behave according to European norms when it gets to consumer rights and the enforcement of professional codes of ethics – as these are literally non-existent when dealing with property lawyers and civil engineering/construction companies. Corfu and Mykonos have been tipped as two of the worst locations to deal with lawyers and civil engineers, with Athens being slightly better.

Problems with the Greek property market include foreigners being extorted with additional building charges, lawyers attempting to sneak additional fees that were never agreed to – and situations where professionals want to act with total impunity to change prices as they see fit. As one buyer said:

“The moment I queried the additional sneak charges, they wanted to walk away with me losing everything I paid up to that point – so clearly the only language they understand, is that of duress and extortion”.

Systemic corruption and white-collar crimes:

source: folio.ng

In small islands like Corfu and Mykonos you have close circles of friends: where the civil engineer, lawyer and building inspectors from local authorities operate as packs. Beyond that, there is also price fixing between construction companies, civil engineering firms, lawyers and notaries, who thrive on the highly illegal practices of price fixing. Corfu is largely seen as a hotbed for mafia-style construction management where extortion is rife.

As one British buyer recently said:

“Once I paid my deposit, people changed from being sweet to showing their teeth: first the lawyer attempted to rinse with an additional nine thousand euros in newly discovered fees, then later, after paying the civil engineer his deposit, he changed his tune that the house that he thought was in a fantastic condition, was actually not maintained for years and abruptly changed the prices and scope of the project. When I questioned the engineer, he said that they can simply pack up and leave.

They caused severe damage to the property, but wanted total impunity without claiming responsibility for any losses we suffered as a result of their misconduct. The worse feeling in the world is when you realise that both lawyers and civil engineers – the very people who are supposed to look out for your interest, do exactly the opposite. They are causing irreversible damage to the reputation of their country, thinking that they can continue getting away with sneaky, unethical behaviour”.

Other buyers from Israel, Germany and China were equally irate at the poor levels of ethics demonstrated by property and legal professionals in Greece. The Chinese government and Costco are facing a huge loss after it trusted Greece with investments – only to learn that the terms that were promised, got changed later on, effectively leaving them in the classic Greek extortion trap.

An Israeli buyer in Mykonos said:

“I refused an extortionate quote to paint my house and did it myself. The construction company owners who littered the entire hill with illegal buildings, sent their friend from the local planning department to come and harass me for working without a building license. Did that person also visit them when they constructed huge mansions illegally on the hill? This is shameful behaviour that one would never expect in Europe these days”.

Black money and total tax avoidance – EU crackdown necessary?

source: dhakatribune.com

Both civil engineers and lawyers openly avoid paying taxes and issuing any receipts. They insist to be paid in cash – especially in Corfu and Mykonos. According to one client:

“They are not so smart: by writing specifically how much they want each time in an email, sending statements of what was paid by email, facebook and SMS – and then saying they will walk away without contractual responsibility as the dealings occurred without VAT receipts. These people are seriously harming the economy of Greece – and seriously harming the reputation of Greece as a destination for investment”.

The same buyer also said:

“If a lawyer or civil engineering firm does not have AT LEAST 10 positive reviews on Google maps, from verifiable foreigners – forget it. Don’t touch them”.

Thousands foreclosures to hit the market, causing oversupply:

source: torontorealtyblog.com

There is also a huge number of foreclosures about to hit the market, as banks were previously blocked by corrupt notary associations who refused to participate in sales of distressed properties. In the Ionian islands, notaries boycotted the government’s pledge to Europe: which was to get rid of toxic loans. Now, finally, these properties are expected to be listed on the market, creating an additional oversupply in a country with an aging, declining population.

Conclusion:

Foreigners should be rather cautious when dealing with any form of property investment in Greece. Fake news platforms based in Greece are quick to float stories of a recovering property market that is “red hot” – which could not be further from the truth. Prices are still falling across Greece, with Athens being the only exception thus far. If the legal system in a country fails foreigners and local contractors refuse to sign proper binding contracts while engaging in dynamic pricing tactics, backed by systemic corruption and tax avoidance that is quite normal, how can the property market ever recover without the trust of the international community? There is always a reason for everything in the world – all this explains why every other European country recovered fully from the recession, except Greece.

6 US Presidents With Most Corrupt Cabinets (Compared To Donald Trump’s)

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Politics has always been a nasty piece of business and throughout the history of America, the presidential cabinets were corrupt to one degree or another. However, some presidents were not so lucky with the people who surrounded them and here are six US presidents with most corrupt cabinets. Also, we will draw parallels to see how this compares to the current situation and incumbent president Donald Trump.

Img source: cnn.com

James Buchanan

At the onset of the Civil War, James Buchanan failed to act which only helped his corrupt cabinet. One of the most important people at the time was Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb who “abandoned his faith in the Union.” He assisted in the formation of the Confederate States of America and went against the US.

However, there was another member of Buchanan’s cabinet who weakened the military and he was called John B. Floyd. In the meantime, Secretary of the Interior Jacob Thompson conspired to set fire to New York. Buchanan’s cabinet was quite harmful to the US.

Img source: history.com

Andrew Jackson

Under Jackson, the spoils system was established. It meant that government officials got jobs based on what they had done for the incoming administration. “It took decades to dismantle the spoils system that started under Jackson,” the publication explains. “And it can be argued that it’s never gone away completely.”

Img source: talkingpointsmemo.com

Ulysses S. Grant

Despite Grant was honest and honorable, his Cabinet was quite shady. The publication reports: “A near-ceaseless flow of money from speculation and western expansion led to an epidemic of corruption.” But Grant didn’t acknowledge the problem. Instead, he “responded by stubbornly protecting those accused of graft.”
Over 100 officials that were under grant were stealing tax revenue from whiskey sales and most of the Secretaries were easily bribed.

Img source: wikipedia.com

Warren G. Harding

Despite having a short presidency, Harding will remain remembered for a corrupt Cabinet and a large number of scandals. His Secretary of Interior Albert Fell was in prison due to the Teapot Dome scandal, which also claimed the Secretary of the Navy. Also the attorney general resigned over a “bootlegging kickback scheme.”

Img source: publicbroadcasting.net

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon may as well be the most corrupt US president of all time and everybody knows that he faced impeachment after the Watergate scandal. However, his vice president Spiro Agnew was implicated in a tax evasion scheme.

But that was not all. Nixon’s CIA director conducted illegal surveillance on US journalists and plotted assassinations in Chile. And these are just the bigger ones.

Img source: wikipedia.com

Ronald Raegan

The Raegan’s administration was quite notorious with 138 members faced investigations, indictments and convictions. People are familiar with Iran-Contra Affair. The US government led by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger illegally sold arms to Iran. With the money gained from weapon sell, they funded Contra rebels to overthrow Nicaragua’s socialist regime.

Img source: nbcnews.com

Donald Trump

The Washington Post says that Trump spent decades “not only manipulating the economic, legal and political systems to increase his wealth but publicly bragging about his ability to do so.” Furthermore, Trump is believed to be using his position to promote his private businesses, according to Huffington Post.

Trump promised to drain the swamp and chase away people who are not working for the benefit of the country. However, is that really the case?

Time explains, “While his Cabinet-level picks have been less traditional — a lot more billionaires and retired military officers than usual, for one thing — it’s clear that they are much more swampy as a whole than Trump pledged.”

Trump’s first mandate is not even over yet and already his administration has been plagued with scandals. After everything that has happened, will Trump get another chance to run the country?