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Public Corruption and Bribery

From the South China Morning Post of August 12, 2016:

“In papers filed in Manhattan federal court, lawyers for real estate developer Ng Lap Seng said the case appeared intended to silence his advocacy for a conference centre in Macau, which would have given developing nations a permanent meeting venue in China.”

Seng (aka David NG) has been accused of participating in a global bribery scheme. Notwithstanding another’s recent conviction, the NG case is pending. However, for an intriguing overview of the involvement of private, independent (NGOs), and public sector entities in the alleged commission of a global conspiracy to, among other things, launder financial resources see the this formerly sealed complaint.

Prosecutorial discretion is great and long been a topic of review among scholars and professionals. See this oldie but goodie from October 1975. See also this from January 2011, and finally this from December 2012. None of which bode well for the defense of NG based on abuse of the prosecutor’s discretion. Prosecutorial discretion is in a word formidable (by design and practice). The exercise of prosecutorial discretion in the public interest is hard to argue against, especially as investigations and prosecutions cannot be isolated from their political effects; i.e., they are political acts where directed by the police and/or public prosecutor.

The accountability of the prosecutor may be checked indirectly (e.g., the appointed may not be reappointed) or directly (e.g., the elected may not be reelected), but U.S. and its states’ courts do not commonly substitute their idea of the public interest in lieu of the prosecutor’s, at least not enough so to throw out indictments. Moreover, the accountability of courts may be more removed from the public than prosecutors (e.g., judicial impeachment of a U.S. judge is rare), so maybe this is the better of those two paths.

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