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UN anti-corruption conference opens in Bali

[JURIST] UN Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa [official profile] Monday opened a week-long UN anti-corruption conference in Bali with a plea [text; UN News Centre report] that nations take serious steps to enforce the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) [text]. Costa warned that efforts to recover stolen national assets are being hindered in many countries by politicians and bureaucrats who have an entrenched interest in maintaining the status quo. In addition, Costa called on private businesses to also take an active role in fighting institutionalized corruption [JURIST news archive], saying that in the past too many had encouraged or profited from government graft. Costa proposed a Corporate Integrity Charter to promote businesses' conformity to the UNCAC, as well as a body to review corporate compliance. The UNCAC was ratified by 107 nations, including the United States, and entered into force in 2005.

The conference is expected to take special interest in the case of former Indonesian President Haji Mohammed Suharto [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who was the subject of corruption investigations before his death [JURIST report] Sunday. Suharto, who ruled Indonesia as President from 1967 to 1998, was sued by the government on charges that he embezzled $440 million from the Yayasan Supersemar [official website], a state-funded scholarship fund, between 1974 and 1998. Prosecutors began proceedings [JURIST report] in September seeking to recover $440 million in diverted states funds and $1.1 billion in damages from Suharto. On Monday, a human rights lawyer was quoted as saying that Indonesian law permits recovery from a decedent's estate of funds that were illegally converted during the person's lifetime. The government dropped criminal corruption charges against Suharto when several strokes rendered him unable to speak or write [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.

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