Destroying history is now being charged as a war crime

An Islamist fighter has pleaded guilty in the Hague for destroying parts of the fabled West African trading city of Timbuktu, in the International Criminal Court’s first case based on the destruction of cultural artifacts. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has admitted today (Aug 22) to razing all but two of the city’s 16 mausoleums as well…

via Destroying history is now being charged as a war crime — Quartz


YELLOW TOURISM CONFERENCE 2017, Corfu, Greece – Call for Papers


Call for Papers!
Yellow Tourism Conference 2017- Register Now!


Crime and Corruption do not merely constitute an intriguing holiday theme (and having common characteristics with the area of ͚Dark Tourism͛); but they also constitute a bitter reality counting many victims. Tourism is a globalised business sector impacting the livelihood of millions of people in all parts of the world. As any other ͚big business͛, where significant circuits of capital and information, and power imbalances exist, tourism is fertile ground for corruption and economic crime.Concurrently, the globalised scope of the tourism industry renders it into a very challenging field of action for national legislators and law enforcement agencies. Novel tourist experiences, interactions with unknown environments and places, and a sense of freedom from care, represent core elements of the holiday experience. For these very reasons, holidays inherently entail a number of dangers for tourists, rendering them vulnerable to crime. Conversely, the anonymity that is combined with the consumerist/hedonistic mindset of many tourists, may well lead to irresponsible and even criminal, behaviour towards locals and others. Although, the casualties of mainly politically-motivated terrorism are few worldwide, safety and security issues related to terror are extensively covered in tourism literature. In contrast, and despite of their quantitatively greater impact on the holiday experience, economic criminality and corruption have received relatively little attention in tourism scholarship. We seek to address this imbalance with this action.
The aim of this project “Yellow Tourism” is to place crime and corruption in the tourism-research agenda, expanding the interdisciplinary scope of tourism to include perspectives from law, business, economics, political science and the social and behavioural sciences. Contributing fields may include, but not be limited to the following:

Business ethics,
Behavioural and social psychology,
Critical tourism studies,
Information systems / Data

The project “Yellow Crime” is carried out by a research consortium consisting of the Ionian University of Corfu, Greece, the University of Bremerhafen Germany, the Ovidious University of Constanta, Rumania and Bournemouth University, U.K.

The two kick-off events of “Yellow-Tourism” project are planned for October/November 2016 and April 2017 in Corfu, Greece

Call for Papers!

Yellow Tourism Conference 2017- Register Now!

itBit’s Global Digital Currency Regulatory Roundup: March 2015

Exploring and understanding the uses of digital currency was a key theme around the globe in March. Finding ways to fit digital currency under the umbrella of existing laws and regulations, particularly with respect to anti-money laundering efforts, was also a major push seen in several countries.

Every month,  itBit, a global exchange offering institutional and retail investors a powerful platform to buy and sell bitcoin scours the globe to bring the latest in digital currency regulation news. Chief Compliance Officer, Erik Wilgenhof Plante, highlights key regulations and legislation impacting retail and institutional digital currency investors worldwide. You can read the latest March roundup below…

North America

California: Bill proposes license requirement for bitcoin businesses

A bill introduced in the California legislature would prevent digital currency businesses from operating in the state unless they have been licensed by the Department of Business Oversight and received an exemption.

The bill comes from Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, chairman of the California Banking and Finance Committee. A spokesman for the assemblyman told CoinDesk, “This bill is something that has been in the works in the state for a couple of years, and as the leader of that committee, Matt dedicated himself on the issue and thought it was the right move to make for the state of California at this time.”

Licensing requires businesses to pay a non-refundable $5,000 for registration and also ask companies to hold a certain portion of their funds in “investment-grade permissible investments.”


Hong Kong: Official says legislation not needed for bitcoin regulation

Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Prof KC Chan said that because bitcoins are not widely used in Hong Kong, legislation that would ban or regulate virtual commodities from trading remains unnecessary.

In his statements, Chan reiterated that such currencies were speculative, and thus posed a risk to users. He also noted that his office would keep a watchful eye on digital currencies and said that, should the need arise, regulators could utilize existing laws to deal with issues of fraud or crime related to digital currencies.


U.K.: Report on digital currency regulation released

treasuryThe U.K. Treasury Department released a report about digital currencies in March, which outlined current views on digital currency and noted potential regulatory actions. According to the report, “The government considers that digital currencies represent an interesting development in payments technology.” The report also goes on to say that such currencies could have advantages for micro-payments and cross-border transactions.

The document also relays plans to apply Anti-Money Laundering laws to digital currencies. The government would seek comment on the potential action, and its impact, later this year.

Isle of Man: Regulation for digital currency introduced

Starting on April 1st, 2015, digital currencies operating in the Isle of Man will be subject to the country’s AML laws after the government amended the 2008 Proceeds of Crime Act to cover bitcoin companies.

According to CoinDesk, that means that those operating in the digital currency business will have to adopt certain know-your-customer (KYC) practices. This includes collecting ID information, which would be given to the authorities if money-laundering activity is suspected.

The country is also set to amend the Designated Businesses (Registration and Oversight) Bill 2014, which would subject digital currencies to required registration and oversight by the Isle of Man Financial Services Commission.

Around the Globe…

FATF takes a pragmatic view on Bitcoin: The Financial Action Task Force has indicated that banks should take a risk-based approach when it comes to opening bank accounts for Bitcoin companies. The regulatory think tank has warned of the risk of virtual currency in the past.

The FATF has published a report that establishes a conceptual framework of key definitions to form the basis for further policy development.

First Regional AML/TF Conference of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force – First Regional Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Conference of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

So Much for Exporting Democracy: Afghanistan Is as Corrupt as North Korea

So Much for Exporting Democracy: Afghanistan Is as Corrupt as North Korea


DECEMBER 3, 2013 – 12:12 PM



After 12 years, nearly $700 billion, and more than 2,000 dead U.S. soldiers, here’s what the United States has to show for its efforts in Afghanistan: a government that’s perceived to be as corrupt as North Korea, according to a new report from the anti-corruption group Transparency International. File it away under things U.S. officials would probably rather ignore.

The Corruptions Perception Index culls expert opinions from groups like the World Bank, Freedom House, and the Economist Intelligence Unit on public sector corruption in 177 countries. Afghanistan has lingered near the bottom of the list for years, but since 2012 has shared last place with perennial losers North Korea and Somalia, countries where “corruption perceptions … indicate a near-total absence of an honest and functioning public sector,” according to Transparency International.

The report comes on the heels of a series of warnings by the Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction that U.S. programs in Afghanistan are vulnerable to corruption. According to an October report, the Pentagon can’t account for as much as $230 million in spare parts for the Afghan National Army. In September, the inspector general released a report highlighting the potential for waste and misuse of funds intended for public health programs. “The U.S. Agency for International Development continues to provide millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in direct assistance,” the report read, “with little assurance that the [Afghan Ministry of Public Health] is using these funds as intended.” In April, the inspector general warned that reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan may be funneling money to U.S. enemies in Afghanistan.

USAID programs are notoriously vulnerable to fraud and corruption, as USAID often gives development funds directly to governments rather than through U.S.-managed contracts, making it difficult to ensure adequate levels accountability and transparency. In settings like Afghanistan, where political corruption is endemic already, the flaws of this approach become particularly apparent. The United States has plowed a total of $96 billion in non-military aid into Afghanistan, according to the inspector general report, but at least $236 million of that aid is at risk of “waste, fraud and abuse.”

Iraq, for what it’s worth, ranks 171 of 177 countries — four spots ahead of Afghanistan. To get a sense of how they stacks up against other countries, check out the interactive map below.

But the report isn’t all bad news. Myanmar jumped from #172 in 2012 to #157 in the index, the largest single change in this year’s report. This leap in the rankings largely stems from positive perceptions of the country’s democratic reforms as it shifts away from its recent history of authoritarianism. But, as the report notes, those perceptions are not reflective of an actual decrease in corrupt practices, which is all but impossible to measure given the deliberately obscure nature of corruption. “The long journey has just begun,” the report explains. “The government still has much to do to bring its legal framework and regulations in line with acceptable standards, strengthen its anti-corruption institutions, and open up space for civil society and the media to monitor and tackle corruption culture at all levels.”

Lowered rankings for the Philippines, China, and India also suggest that perceptions of administrative and political corruption increase when economies grow, according to the report. Similarly, Libya and Syria’s slide on the index illustrates the effects of political conflict on public perception of corruption risk. With a six point decrease, Spain fell the furthest in this year’s ranking after what the report describes as “a summer blighted by political scandals indicating a lack of accountability and fading public trust.”

While, the index is by no means a comprehensive survey of corrupt activities around the world, it draws on assessments by 13 independent institutions specializing in business and governance. There are some problems with this approach (which Foreign Policyhas noted before), but the initiative nevertheless remains useful in raising awareness of factors that can deter corruption (such as public accountability mechanisms) and those that can facilitate it (such as an influx of foreign aid). The Philippines, for example, dropped two points in large part because of ongoing corruption scandals, including those surrounding Super Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the world fared:



Transparency International


The East African Bribery Index 2013

The East African Bribery Index, conducted since 2009, is a governance tool developed to measure bribery levels in the private and public sectors in the region. 2013’s report recorded responses on bribery from 10,491 respondents across the five East African countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania, comparing bribery tendencies across key public sectors including medical services, education, water, judiciary, the police and civil registration.

The need for the governments in the region to strengthen anti-corruption interventions as a precondition for sustainable development cannot be overstated. Though the East African Bribery Index captures cases of petty bribery, the same may be indicative of weaknesses in the systems likely to support and perpetuate other forms of corruption.