Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Corruption to the fore

In the last few weeks, disturbing allegations of corruption have emanated from all sectors in Spain. Today, a major paper reported that directors of Caixa Penedes (which was absorbed by another bank and subsequently bailed out by the state) gave themselves pensions worth €20 million. Meanwhile, a member of the royal family is accused of siphoning public funds from a nonprofit in Palma de Mallorca, the chief-executive at construction conglomerate Sacyr was sent packing after betting against his own company, and a judge is investigating allegations of corruption among members of parliament.

Cronyism, bribery, and embezzlement has always been looked on with a sort of amusement in Spain. The classic example if the Marbella city council. One city councilwoman was ousted after using 800,000 euros of public funds to purchase champagne. This after two former mayors had accused each other of embezzlement on live TV - and both turned out to be completely correct. One went on to marry a famous singer; another later owned a football team.

Today, Spain is ranked 30th in the corruption perception index. This seems quite dire considering that the likes of the UAE and Qatar - which recently bribed its way to a World Cup - are ahead, but perhaps should be taken lightly since the United States is also ranked only 22nd.

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