Kazakhstan: Evidence Emerges of Government Jobs For Sale
It has long been rumored that huge bribes change hands in Kazakhstan to secure public-service jobs and law-enforcement positions that come with small salaries but enormous potential to make a few bucks on the side.Now comes some indication of just how large the bribes may be: A human resources official in South Kazakhstan Region’s bureaucracy is under arrest after demanding a $50,000 backhander in a cash-for-job deal, Kazinform reports. The official offered her services to secure a lowly job as deputy head of the regional Entrepreneurship and Trade Directorate, begging the question of how much money might be changing hands for more senior (and potentially lucrative) positions.Graft is officially acknowledged to be rife throughout Kazakhstan’s bureaucracy, including the judiciary and law-enforcement system.Last month the financial police said that some tax officials were taking bribes ranging from 1,000 to 1 million tenge (approximately $6.60 to $6,600) to fix results on tax audits, Tengri News reported.In one high-profile case, Major-General Almaz Asenov, former head of the military’s armaments department, was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of taking a $200,000 kickback from two representatives of Ukrainian company Ukrspetzeksport in return for turning a blind eye to faulty repair work on An-72 aircraft. The fatal crash of an An-72 in southern Kazakhstan in December – which killed 27 people, including Border Guard Service Director Turganbek Stambekov – was blamed on equipment failure and human error. In another notorious case, 45 people – mainly customs officials from the Khorgos border crossing with China – will shortly be in the dock on corruption charges. In Kazakhstan’s oil-rich west former senior officials are under arrest accused of blowing a $100-million hole in the budget for personal enrichment. Astana points to these cases as evidence that it is taking a firm stance against corruption. A draft program on law-enforcement reforms published in March acknowledged graft’s corrosive effect and promised action. However, some observers say that the tentacles of corruption reach so high that it is difficult to stamp out, and that anti-graft campaigns sometimes assume a political hue. Kazakhstan ranks in the bottom 15 percent of international watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, at 133rd out of 176 countries.