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India

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials at all levels of government. Officials frequently engaged, however, in corrupt practices with impunity. There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year.

Corruption: Corruption was present at all levels of government. According to Crime in India 2016 data, the CBI registered 673 corruption-related cases. NGOs reported the payment of bribes to expedite services, such as police protection, school admission, water supply, or government assistance. Civil society organizations drew public attention to corruption throughout the year, including through demonstrations and websites that featured stories of corruption.

Media reports, NGOs, and activists reported links between contractors, militant groups, and security forces in infrastructure projects, narcotics trafficking, and timber smuggling in the northeastern states. These reports alleged ties among politicians, bureaucrats, security personnel, and insurgent groups. In Manipur and Nagaland, allegations of bribes paid to secure state government jobs were prevalent, especially in police and education departments.

Corruption sometimes hampered government programs to investigate allegations of government corruption. On February 14, V. K. Sasikala, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu ruling party, All India Anna Dravida Munntra Kazhagam-Amma, was convicted of corruption after the Supreme Court restored the trial court verdict in a 21-year-old case. Additionally, by law Sasikala was barred from contesting any election for six years following her prison term.

In 2015 the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to take over a Madhya Pradesh state government investigation of fraud within the Professional Examination Board, a state government body that conducts school entrance and government service exams. Arrests in the case since the investigation began in 2013 included more than 2,000 individuals. In August 2016 the CBI filed formal complaints against 60 individuals and filed charges against a student candidate and an impersonator. The Madhya Pradesh High Court granted bail to some of the accused. The CBI was also investigating the deaths of 48 individuals over the span of five years, including a journalist who reported on the alleged fraud. On February 13, the Supreme Court cancelled the admission of more than 600 Madhya Pradesh medical students who they believed used examination malpractice to pass.

On April 10, the Anticorruption Bureau (ACB) registered a complaint against Eknath Khadse, the former Maharashtra agriculture and revenue minister, his wife, son-in-law, and an aide in Pune for alleged corruption in a land deal. On March 8, the state government informed the court that the ACB would take over investigations from the local police. Khadse had resigned as a minister in June 2016 when the allegations surfaced. There was no update on the case by year’s end.

Financial Disclosure: The law mandates asset declarations for all officers in the Indian Administrative Services. Both the Election Commission and the Supreme Court upheld mandatory disclosure of criminal and financial records for election candidates.

Mexico

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, but the government did not enforce the law effectively. There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year. Corruption at the most basic level involved paying bribes for routine services or in lieu of fines to administrative officials or security forces. More sophisticated and less apparent forms of corruption included funneling funds to elected officials and political parties by overpaying for goods and services.

Although by law elected officials enjoy immunity from prosecution while holding public office, state and federal legislatures have the authority to waive an official’s immunity. As of August more than one-half of the 32 states followed this legal procedure to strip immunity, and almost all other states were taking similar steps.

By law all applicants for federal law enforcement jobs (and other sensitive positions) must pass an initial vetting process and be recleared every two years. According to the Interior Ministry and the National Center of Certification and Accreditation, most active police officers at the national, state, and municipal levels underwent at least initial vetting. The press and NGOs reported that some police officers who failed vetting remained on duty. The CNDH reported that some police officers, particularly at the state and local level, were involved in kidnapping, extortion, and providing protection for, or acting directly on behalf of, organized crime and drug traffickers.

On July 19, the National Anticorruption System, signed into law by the president in 2016, entered into force. The law gives autonomy to federal administrative courts to investigate and sanction administrative acts of corruption, establishes harsher penalties for government officials convicted of corruption, provides the Superior Audit Office (ASF) with real-time auditing authority, and establishes an oversight commission with civil society participation. Observers hailed the legislation as a major achievement in the fight against corruption but criticized a provision that allows public servants an option not to declare their assets. A key feature of the system is the creation of an independent anticorruption prosecutor and court. The Senate had yet to appoint the special prosecutor at year’s end.

Corruption: In July the Attorney General’s Office took custody of former governor of Veracruz Javier Duarte, who had gone into hiding in Guatemala and was facing corruption charges. The government was also seeking the extradition from Panama of former governor of Quintana Roo Roberto Borge and issued an arrest warrant for former governor of Chihuahua Cesar Duarte. The ASF filed criminal charges with the Attorney General’s Office against 14 state governments for misappropriating billions of dollars in federal funds. The ASF was also investigating several state governors, including former governors of Sonora (Guillermo Padres) and Nuevo Leon (Rodrigo Medina), both of whom faced criminal charges for corruption. The Attorney General’s Office also opened an investigation against Nayarit Governor Sandoval for illicit enrichment as a result of charges brought against him by a citizens group, which also included some opposing political parties.

The NGO Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity and media outlet Animal Politico published a report accusing Attorney General Raul Cervantes of involvement in fraud, revealing that he had registered a Ferrari vehicle valued at more than $200,000 to an unoccupied house in an apparent effort to avoid taxes. Cervantes’ attorney attributed improper registration to administrative error. On October 16, Cervantes resigned, stating the reason for his resignation was to preserve the political independence of the new prosecutor’s office that was to replace the current Attorney General’s Office as part of a constitutional reform.

Financial Disclosure: In 2016 the Congress passed a law requiring all federal and state-level appointed or elected officials to provide income and asset disclosure, statements of any potential conflicts of interests, and tax returns, but the law includes a provision that allows officials an option to withhold the information from the public. The Ministry of Public Administration monitors disclosures with support from each agency. Regulations require disclosures at the beginning and end of employment, as well as annual updates. The law requires declarations be made publicly available unless an official petitions for a waiver to keep his or her file private. Criminal or administrative sanctions apply for abuses. In June the Supreme Court declined a petition by opposition political parties to overturn the provision for a privacy waiver.

Thailand

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for conviction of corruption by officials. Government implementation of the law increased under the NCPO, although officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There were reports of government corruption during the year.

Corruption: Corruption remained widespread among police. Authorities arrested police officers and convicted them of corruption, drug trafficking, and smuggling; police reportedly also committed intellectual property rights violations.

In 2015 the attorney general filed criminal charges against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and 28 other officials in her administration related to alleged malfeasance in her government’s handling of a rice-pledging program. In August the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found 20 defendants guilty of crimes related to corruption, sentencing former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom to 42 years in prison for malfeasance in administering government-to-government deals involving Chinese companies as part of the rice-pledging program. In September the same court found Yingluck Shinawatra guilty of dereliction of duty in absentia for failing to address the corruption of Boonsong and other officials in her government and sentenced her to five years in prison. Prior to the verdict, Yingluck reportedly departed the country. Following the conviction, the court issued a warrant for her immediate arrest.

The government continued to enforce the 2009 arrest warrant against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who faced two and one-half years in prison after being convicted of malfeasance by the Supreme Court of Justice for Persons Holding Political Positions for his involvement with a government bank loan to Burma. He continued to reside outside the country.

Financial Disclosure: Financial disclosure laws and regulations require elected and appointed public officials to disclose assets and income according to standardized forms. The law penalizes officials who fail to submit declarations, submit inaccurate declarations, or conceal assets. Penalties include a five-year political activity ban, asset seizure, and discharge from position, as well as a maximum imprisonment of six months, a maximum fine of 10,000 baht ($306), or both.

The NACC financial disclosure rules do not apply to NCPO members, although NCPO members who serve in cabinet positions must comply with the rules. Likewise authorities also exempted members of the NCPO-appointed 200-member National Reform Steering Assembly, which was dissolved in July.

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