The Bribery Act

This is going to be amusing folks:

The Serious Fraud Office will pursue UK-listed, foreign companies if they engage in bribery despite their apparent exemption from the Bribery Act.

I can think, immediately, of one FTSE 100 company that is entirely screwed then. Entirely notorious in the industry they are…..

This is even more fun:

The guidance on the Act also appeared to soften the treatment of facilitation payments – bribes to facilitate routine Government action. The guidance recognises such payments are endemic in certain parts of the world and remain a long term problem.

Something of a gaping loophole really. For bribery to get a government or government officer to do what they wouldn\’t normally do is rarer than you might think. Not non-existent of course, but not the majority of bribery attempts, certainly.

Paying them to do what they\’re already supposed to do: issue the permit, grant the export licence, them charging the firm a rent really, that\’s what most of it is.

As to \”endemic in certain parts of the world\”. My own experience is that there are places (no names, no pack drill) where the very first question I would ask is \”who do I have to pay?\” and the second \” how much?\”. There are other places (the UK among them) where the idea of paying a bribe, doucer, sweetner, wouldn\’t even cross my mind and I\’d be outraged if it were ever even intimated that one might be welcomed.

6 thoughts on “The Bribery Act”

  1. I’m shocked, amazed and astounded* that there are people who aren’t in favour of this. I mean, what happened to respecting and accommodating other cultures?

    I mean, it’s almost like we’re judging them, isn’t it? And that will never do…

    * Not really

  2. 1) Hmm. Is that a company that shares its principal place of business with a fictional mankini-wearing TV presenter, by any chance?

    2) I’m not sure facilitation payments are as gaping a loophole as all that. The court can consider whether the company simply got what it would have been able to get legally but for corrupt officialdom, or whether it was granted grossly disproportionate favours. There’s plenty of precedent for courts to decide that sort of thing.

    Tim adds: 1) could be, could be. And what’s even worse when you try to deal with them is that they are hopelessly, farcically, incompetent with it as well. One of the metals they produce ends up in Rolls Royce jet engines. Everyone (well, you know what I mean) knows this. Yet they still have some gobshite or other, a different one each time, popping up every three months seeing if any brokers want to buy the stuff. For envelopes of course. Damn, why not (with plausible deniability) just set up a separate company and rent an office next door to RR’s factory? Control the whole process and the skims?

    I really do know a guy who buys from these randomly replaced knobheads then sells to RR. Makes £1 million a year doing it. How damn stupid do you need to be to be both dishonest and let the other guy make a million a year?

  3. Yes, in some places it’s more or less “pro forma.”

    Almost 50 years ago, I brought back a load of animals (snakes, lizards) from southern (Colima)
    Mexico. Entering the US through the Matamoros, Mexico (Brownsville, TX) port of entry, my load (all illegal for export from Mexico as well as for import), I presented various letters presumably authorizing my load (from the Houston Zoo and UT Dental branch) to the head guy and, while he was perusing those, I proferred $100 in $20s. He handed the letters back to me and, seeing the cash, said, in a very friendly manner, “No, thank you, sir–all the necessary bribes have already been paid by your friends on the other side.” Nor did I even get a second look from U.S. Customs.

    But my best “bribe” story, I’ll detail following.

  4. I had a contract with the Defense Dept. to furnish porro prism clusters (for WW II 7 X 50 binoculars) back about 40 years ago. They were gov’t. surplus–still in their original packages. A team of 3 inspectors from the Frankford Arsenal(then in Philadelphia and no longer extant) came to my home to perform “source inspection” (as required for purchase of former surplus). The “goods” were laid out on my dining-room table. The three picked some up to examined more closely, remarking on their age (mostly ’42 and ’43) and fine condition. But one guy had a very sour disposition, it seemed, several times calling the material “garbage.”

    I asked him what he found wrong with any of the items. He replied, “Oh, well, I can’t actually put them to some of the tests that they would have originally have had to pass–but I can tell you, a lot of hanky-panky–bribe-taking–went on at the Arsenal in those days. I was there and saw it myself.”

    At that point, I said, “If you guys’ll take seats at the kitchen table, I’ve got donuts and pastries out and coffee will be ready in seconds.” As they sat, I poured coffee and then excused myself for a few minutes. And, while they were busy with the coffee, I went to the closet in my son’s bedroom and began sorting through packaged prism I had stored there–replacing all of those on the dining-room table with those I’d collected from my son’s room.

    Then, when they finished their coffee, etc., they returned to the inspection. But this time, there wasn’t a single negative word from the grouch and, shortly, everything had been “okayed.”

    Why? Because, noting the grouch’s name from his lapel-tag, I’d replaced the entire layout on the table with others–all bearing HIS name on their individual inspection tags. Nary a word!

  5. I got onboarded into Sun Microsystems when they aquired MySQL Inc. All employees were required to take various legal “training” courses, such as sexual harrassment policy training, etc. One of the required classes was on business corruption. Up to that point, I was blissfully unaware of the detains and mechanics of corporate business corruption. But after taking it, I knew how to recognize, demand, pay, and cover up kickbacks. I was also amused to learn that small scale facilitation payments were specifically allowed. If one was demanded, and there appeared to be no good way around it, I was to pay the bribe, and then expense it, while also sending a note to a special office at Legal, so they could track it.

  6. American companies have had this problem for years, trying to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. All they’ll do is get a sponsor to take care of it all (as they do in the Middle East), run it through a subcontractor, or ensure the bloke wanting the bribe has a genuine business offering a genuine service which can be charged for with an authentic invoice but not verified. In Sakahlin, container storage services was a favourite.

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