And a minister has been named as allegedly implicated in the two billion US$ corruption case while in charge of ALBA over a period of 15 years or so.
This is highly intriguing and I’ll tell you why:
Although this is not the first corruption case in Bahrain, and I would venture to say that it won’t be the last either; but for decades we’ve known of corrupt government officials so much so that people didn’t bother calling them by their given names, but by an acquired alias: “Mr. 5%”, “Mr. 10%”, “Mr. 50%” and “Mr. Did They Do the Needful”.
Corruption has become the norm. Businessmen are said to actually factor in the funds they need to pay to oil the wheels of industry as a normal cost of doing business. It is no wonder that Bahrain’s reputation is less than stellar in the world community. It is this particular fact that chased and continues to chase foreign investment much more than the weekly nuisance skirmishes we too have gotten used to. Not that I condone those brain-sparks who think that they can resolve our problems by lighting fires to rubbish bins and throwing blazing tyres in the path of oncoming cars.
So what’s new in the ALBA corruption case then?
To me, it is the planting of the stake in the ground not only such a public manner, but loudly announcing that no one is going to be beyond the law – even if that someone is a minister, a member of the ruling family, or both, as is in this case. It is the willingness of the “defacto-government” to go all out and lodge a case in the United States’ courts utilising their own Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
If you are wondering what is the significance of this step, then you are not alone.
To me, it is manifold but chief amongst them would fit squarely into making bold and unequivocal political statements on which the future of this country rests.
Unlike Bahrain, cases such as this one illicits the right of full discovery by the plaintiff in the States. That is, ALCOA can not only put the Bahraini dirty laundry out for all to see, but is completely within its legal rights to ask for present and past associates of those lodging the case against it for full questioning, and they won’t care much for our dear parliamentary ways of doing things; to them, Parliamentary articles 145 and 146 – had they had them – would be quite plain and straightforward: bring out not only the minister to be questioned, but his whole known and invisible bank records and every other documentary evidence and associates to be scrutinised in full public view.
This of course will unearth a lot more muck. These corrupt practices do not happen in a vacuum, they have their own support infrastructure, which – if the case is left to take its own natural course – I would not be at all surprised if this whole government comes tumbling down due to the proceedings.
And you know what? No one can just ignore this and just keep things under the lid either; well, not unless the case is withdrawn and an out of court settlement is reached, now its not just a case of corruption brought on by a foreign company against an American company, that situation has been stopped as the US Department of Justice has launched its own investigation into the matter in a criminal case against Alcoa. If my understanding is correct, the case has taken a more serious turn now that not even the Bahraini government nor ALBA can stop it.
So we’re in for a wild ride which could result in a completely different government, new faces and not only a much better CPI rating, but much more importantly, it will go a long way into restoring the normal Bahraini citizen’s trust in his country and the new, young, fearless and vibrant leadership which is taking the bull by the horns.
This case has far more reaching repercussions than even the Bandargate scandal. This one promises a much more intensive overhaul to the machinery, and its about time too.