Blimey, this is a surprise, isn’t it?

An anti-corruption watchdog has found proof that a British company searching for oil in Africa’s oldest national park paid thousands of dollars to a Congolese military officer whose soldiers have been accused of bribing, intimidating and even killing the company’s opponents.
The watchdog, Global Witness, has obtained cheques and receipts for $42,250 (£27,475) that the company, Soco, paid the officer, Major Burimba Feruzi, over a fortnight in the spring of 2014. Opponents of drilling in Virunga national park, a Unesco World Heritage site in the Democratic Republic of Congo, were being violently silenced at that time.

Corrupt practices happen in corrupt parts of the world.

I am shocked, shocked. Of course, you never know whether it’s a shakedown (not exactly unknown among men with guns) or not.

But actually I am shocked. Who the hell pays a bribe with a cheque? That’s incompetent.

5 thoughts on “Blimey, this is a surprise, isn’t it?”

  1. But actually I am shocked. Who the hell pays a bribe with a cheque? That’s incompetent.

    Not really. If they paid in cash, then they would find it hard to deny it was a bribe. Pay by cheque for security services and get a receipt, that’s a legitimate business expense. It will all come down to whether Major Burimba Feruzi was a bloke wandering in off the street demanding a handout, or somebody who ran a company (of sorts) offering services (of sorts) and a bank account. That Soco paid by cheque would suggest it was the latter.

    And there’s not much in anti-corruption laws that says you can’t pay a local to protect you. The cheque and receipt will be their best defense against bribery, but will have meant they could never deny engaging this fellow in the first place when their ethics are questioned.

  2. Incidentally, on the one time I was instructed by my superior on how to conduct our business in Russia, it was I was *never* to hand out cash. If a transaction needed to be made, it was to be to a legitimate company on the basis of an invoice for an identified service which may or may not have been the one you actually got. “Temporary storage of empty shipping containers” was normally a good one.

  3. Plus if you pay by a cheque, you can threaten to report him to his superiors if he threatens any trouble later.

    Said superiors reaction will depend on whether he cut them in on the deal.

  4. Tim N

    Fascinating, thanks. “Temporary storage of empty shipping containers” – got to remember that one.

  5. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – ““Temporary storage of empty shipping containers” was normally a good one.”

    Not “Consultant on Administrative Best Practice”? Or the old stand by “Compliance Services”?

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