America Talks Tough About US Companies That Use Bribery In Foreign Countries

Several of our readers sent us a Financial Times article on the US Government crackdown upon American companies who use bribery in foreign countries. If there is a new US standard against bribery, no doubt Barbadian politicians who had anything to do with VECO and the oil terminal & prison, or 3S with the flyovers will be a little worried…

Bribery is too much like hard work

By Patti Waldmeir

Bribery is not what it used to be: these days it is too much like hard work. The man in the safari suit can no longer just hand over a bagful of cash; corruption has had to get creative.

Paying for prostitutes is obviously outré, and Swiss bank accounts are so 1970s. For most even half-reputable US multinationals, paying a bribe these days means evading armies of accountants and auditors, deceiving dozens of lawyers and compliance officers, and fooling the born-again anti-bribery fundamentalists who enforce America’s dreaded Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (not to mention the Chinese or Nigerian fraud squads).

For oil companies in some countries, there may be no reasonable alternative to bakshish; but other companies in other countries must ask themselves: is corruption worth the cost? This is not a moral question – on a strict calculus of risks and rewards, bribery may be too high a cost of doing business.

That, at least, was the message earlier this month when the top US anti-bribery police met senior US businesspeople at a forum hosted by the Directors Roundtable in Washington, DC: just say No to bribery, in all its many-splendoured forms.

When that African official asks for help getting the son of his second cousin twice removed into an elite American private school, just say No – who cares if he is paying the tuition; the cost of admission is priceless. When a rogue provincial official tries to shake you down for protection money, refuse – try to get the US embassy or powerful officials in the capital to help; but the answer must still be negative. And do not think you can hide behind the corrupt misdeeds of a joint venture or minority local partner: American companies, or those with even the most tenuous links to the US, will pay for what their local agents or contractors or subcontractors do to guarantee them business. The top cops on the foreign corruption beat made it amply clear: when it comes to foreign bribery, they are taking no prisoners.

The consternation in the room was palpable, as Mark Mendelsohn, the top FCPA enforcement official at the US justice department, and Cheryl Scarboro, who holds the same position at the Securities and Exchange Commission, outlined the new rules for companies operating in the world’s corruption hot-spots. One plaintive questioner asked: what is a company to do if it operates in a country where corruption is a way of doing business? “Maybe that’s a place you shouldn’t be doing business,” said Ms Scarboro, provoking an aggrieved splutter about naive bureaucrats with no experience of commercial realpolitik from the businessman sitting next to me.

… continue reading this article link here


Filed under Barbados, Business, Crime & Law, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption

12 responses to “America Talks Tough About US Companies That Use Bribery In Foreign Countries

  1. Straight talk

    It’s not just Barbados who give out multi-million dollar contracts to VECO for work of which they have no prior experience.

    “The FBI wants to know why oil services company Veco Corp. won federal contracts worth $170 million to provide the National Science Foundation with polar and arctic research support, despite having no experience in the field, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

    Veco won the federal awards right around the time CEO Bill Allen oversaw the remodeling of Stevens’ Girdwood home, another field in which Veco had no prior experience.

    Stevens, who has long supported NSF arctic research, would have had authority over NSF funding as a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, though no evidence has surfaced holding Stevens responsible for directly securing the contracts for Veco.”

  2. farce

    this is fluff. the highest levels of government in the us depend on bribery, kick backs and pay offs to get elected and stay in power so this is superficial stuff to keep people thinking something is being done. do you really think that the president, his cabinet, senators and congressmen and all such people who have links with oil companies, arm companies, contracting companies, food industry and all the other multinationals would really do something that is not beneficial to their pockets and elction prospects. corruption happens everywhere not just barbados. it takes two hands to clap. this does not mean i condone it though. i despise corruption but i am so disillusioned i am resigned to the fact that nothing will change.

  3. Bush tea

    “…but i am so disillusioned i am resigned to the fact that nothing will change.”

    It takes people just like you to allow this kind of corruption to flourish farce.
    Ever heard of righteous indignation farce?
    Ever heard of standing up for RIGHT?
    How about principles?

    only sheep and ‘No Name’ resign themselves to the fact that ‘nothing will change’

  4. Straight talk

    Far from winding down their investgation into the VECO corruption scandal, after the high profile court cases, the FBI are stepping up their enquiries.

    The Justice Dept. have ordered the Alaskan Attorney General to cease the state’s investigation, so it does not obstruct their own ever widening Federal probe.

    There has been an increase to 178 FBI agents now working in Alaska on the corruption case and more revelations and arrests are imminent.

  5. Thistle

    Bush Tea:
    No Name cannot resign himself to the fact that “nothing will change” because he is a dogmatic bully. If he refuses to acknowledge that bloggers and blog moderators will not stand for his obscenity and abuse of others, and continues to insult people and resort to vulgarity, how could he possibly accept that change can be brought about? One thing I am noticing may never change though, and that is Bajan tolerance! How else can we describe the way many bloggers have put up with the madman’s insults?

  6. Hants

    a Blackwater subsidiary in Barbados that positions its services outside U.S. jurisdiction and control.

    Anyone care to comment on this.

  7. Anonymous

    Hard to believe, but Bush Tea says one thing on BFP and the opposite on BU. Why the flipflop?


    Whereas i disagree with ‘farce ‘that things will never change i most wholeheartedly agree about the ‘fluffiness’ about these so-called strict regulations. We are talking about country whose vice-president was the head of a company (Halliburton)who is making money hand over fist in a war in which he played a large part in pushing through. A country whose President’s family are oil people and whose Father is a principal in a large weapons contractor concern (the Carlylse Group ) both benefiting tremendously by the prevailing World situation of which his administration’s policies had a very large part in creating.

    Do we really believe this tripe . Come on now . I think the strict regulations are there for those who are not part of the ‘inner’ groups is probably more accurate . A local example would be something mentioned on this blog about audited statements being strictly required by Government for companies but Gems going unaudited for a number of years . We are not peculiar , this stuff is happening all over. Remember , a large number of laws always benefit the law makers and so-called law enforcers.
    We have a so-called ‘war on drugs’ propagated and endorsed by the US but opium production is at its highest ever in Afghanistan under their watch , hmmm … now thats a funny thing. Black Ops missions have to be funded from somewhere i guess.


    BFP Comments

    Failing our government having a need for covertly funding “black ops”, perhaps they could tell us how much of our money has been transferred through government contracts to private companies that are owned by government members or their family?

  9. Maat

    The Sunday Sun of October 21st, published a letter to the editor from a former American diplomat who now resides in Barbados. This diplomat, Peggy S. Zabriskie, resigned from her state department job on a point of conscience regarding the foreign policy of a US government that has moved away from the principles that many believe America is founded upon.

    Our governing M.P’s do not exhibit this level of integrity and conscience. Rather than attempt to disclose the records, reports, studies and processes that have led to the current perception of corruption and ineptitude, we see the ruling party paying for a full page ad in the Sunday Sun that seeks to make fun of the allegations.

    At least some members of parliament from the last DLP administration showed that they would not sit quietly in the house and see their Prime Minister (Sandiford) follow a poor choice of policy.
    They had the guts to be involved in a no confidence motion that is the hall mark of representatives who have the ability and integrity to think and act on matters of conscience.


  10. Wishing in Vain

    Maat, Sadly they choose to make a mockery of these same things that are haunting our nation the Crime and Violence, the HARDWOOD HOLDINGS, THE 3S , ABC CONSTRUCTION, DANOS, VECO all examples of what not to get involved in as a gov’t but yet they still do these things and then when asked to account the head of the crime ignores the plea from the Leader of the Opposition is this a true free and fair country is sounds very corrupt to me!!!

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