Bribing for business: Russia and China score lowest in fighting corruption

According to a survey released on November 3, 2011, by Transparency International, a non-profit, corruption watchdog, Russia and China got the lowest scores in its 2011 Bribe Payers Index, which ranked the top 28 largest economies according to the probability of companies headquartered in these countries practicing bribery. The scores were calculated from responses of 3,016 executives in 30 countries who had business dealings in those economies.

Companies based in China and Russia scored below 7 on a scale of 10, at 6.5 and 6.1, respectively. Mexico, with a 7.0 score, was third from the bottom. Companies in the Netherlands and Switzerland tied for first place with scores of 8.8, with Belgium, Germany, and Japan rounding out the top five.
The survey also ranked the business sectors in which bribery was perceived to be prevalent. Public works and construction were reported as the most pullulated along with oil and gas. Agriculture and light manufacturing were ranked as the cleanest.

The report noted that “there is no country among the 28 major economics whose companies are perceived to be wholly clean and do not engage in bribery.” And the scores, on average, have not improved significantly from the 2008 Bribe Payers Index. The average score of 22 countries increased only 0.1 points to 7.9 in the latest edition.

The survey also found that “international business leaders reported the widespread practice of companies paying bribes to public officials in order to, for example, win public tenders, avoid regulation, speed up government processes or influence policy.” However, companies are almost as likely to pay bribes to other businesses, according to the survey, which looked at business-to-business bribery for the first time. This suggests that corruption is not only a concern for the public sector, but for many businesses, and carries major reputational and financial risks.

November 3rd, 2011|Criminal Activity|

FCPA enforcement milestone: corporate conviction handed down by jury

The Department of Justice announced on May 11, 2011 that Lindsey Manufacturing Company, a privately-held Azusa, CA emergency systems manufacturer, its executives Keith Lindsey and Steve Lee, and a Mexican intermediary were convicted by a federal jury on all counts for their roles in a scheme to pay bribes to Mexican government officials at the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), a state-owned utility, to win $19 million in contracts.

According to court documents, between February 2002 and March 2009, Lindsey Manufacturing, Keith Lindsey, Steve Lee and others used the company’s Mexican agent, Enrique Aguilar, to funnel bribe payments to officials of the CFE. (See for further details about the case.)

Although individuals have gone to trial and been convicted of violating the FCPA, this is a first such conviction for a company, as companies previously have opted to settle or plead guilty. The FCPA is expected to be an important enforcement tool under the new Dodd-Frank law as similar cases are likely to end up in court.

May 13th, 2011|Criminal Activity|
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