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Saturday , November 23 2019

Regimented fight on corruption vs fight in a pampered manner

Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli Former Minister of Oil

A FEW days ago, the French judiciary convicted the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde of negligence in handling public funds. It happened after a series of lengthy trial sessions over the financial case which dominated the French opinion poll.

The background of the case is that Bernard Tapie, a businessman and former minister, accused the largest bank in France in the ’90s “Credit Lyonnais” of defrauding him when the bank sold Adidas on his behalf to Robert Louis-Dreyfus in the same year. To settle the huge judicial dispute that followed, the then-finance minister Lagarde decided against the opinion of the advisory authority to resort to a “private court” for arbitration in 2007.

The panel of three judges in the case decided that Tapie should be given a sum of 404 million Euros from the public fund. However, this decision was later overturned by the civil court in 2015 in a verdict that obliged Tapie to return the money that he was awarded by the arbitration court.

The allegation later raised against Christine Lagarde was that she took this case lightly by allowing it to be handled by the arbitration court, which later resulted in damages for the taxpayers.

The lawyer representing Lagarde said, “In the end, the misdemeanor was discovered to be based on negligence in not appealing the decision taken by the arbitration panel, and that the court did not convict her of referring the case to the arbitration court. Instead, she was only supposed to appeal against the decision, something that she failed to do”.

When I went through the grounds for convicting the former French minister of finance with the suspended ruling, I became more impressed with the Western “infidel” countries where laws are applied more firmly on the elites than the common citizens.

On the other hand, I continue to criticize the “unregimented” countries we live in, such as Kuwait. I do not mean that I abase my beloved country Kuwait, but I abase the administration and its many authorities, which have never convicted or censured a single top official despite the corruption and losses they cause to the public fund.

I blame the new anti-corruption authority, as we have not seen it make any noteworthy step towards fighting corruption which is prevalent in every corner of this country.

The reason behind this could be the disputes and tyranny affecting its Board of Trustees such that its members are divided into a ratio of 5:2. In addition, its secretary general is facing surprise retirement before the end of his tenure.

If disputes can cripple that authority despite its noble objectives, then it should not come as a surprise that scores of “Christine Lagardes” living among us are not being convicted.

There is a clear difference between the fight against corruption in regimented countries and the pampered fight against corruption in our country.

By Ali Al-Baghli

Former Minister of Oil

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