The Feds are on it now…

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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.

  • hass
    23 March 2008

    Crown prince promised a transparent court in order to clean up the government from such corruption, the question is that is he serious, and are we going to see this minister behind bars even if he is a member of rulling family
    i doubt it very much

  • bahraini4eva
    23 March 2008

    Oh and this ex minister is a close associate and advisor to.. Let Alba reveal the truth!

  • Solomon2
    24 March 2008

    As the Alcoa spokesman says, there may indeed be a very speedy conclusion to all this. Because the people Alcoa had doing the bribing were neither Alcoa employees nor American citizens, but an “independent” partner. I’m afraid the most one can hope for is further exposure, not a successful prosecution.

  • Sos
    24 March 2008

    The U.S. does not spare anyone face, not even the president when it comes to scandals 😳 . Those involved will be named and shamed.

  • Concerned
    24 March 2008

    Excellent piece Mahmood. I am disappointed at the quality of the Bahraini business environment and the image of corruption associated with the nation. It is high time that people are brought to justice to pay for their crimes against the Bahraini nation. As we have all been robbed of what is the public wealth. Does anyone want to guess what is the punishment for corruption in China?

  • isa
    24 March 2008

    Did any of our local media even report this development?

  • I
    24 March 2008

    “Does anyone want to guess what is the punishment for corruption in China?”

    If I recall, don’t they send them for trial, find them guilty, then take them out and shoot them?

    Like the government minister who was in charge of the ship when the health scandals came to light last year that involved sub-standard goods being shipped overseas and poisoning people . . .

    I may be wrong. . . but I don’t think so.

  • Durazi
    24 March 2008

    Crown prince promised a transparent court in order to clean up the government from such corruption

    Yes, that court is in Pittsburgh!

  • Sadek
    24 March 2008

    and if its in Pittsburgh, so? You are likely to get the truth, and there’s little to stop it.

  • loki
    25 March 2008

    Wouldn’t any minister be covered by diplomatic immunity and thus protected from answering to a US court???

  • exclamation mark
    25 March 2008

    It would be easier if they started from Top…

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