I have to start with all the media news about the FIFA, after more than 30 years of discussions about bribery, they finally are finding and getting proof of all the misuse of money called corruption. A non-profit organisation who takes bribes, kickbacks and more we will never know…..
Than the Spanish government where ministers accepted many bribes and there is a high corruption. Or just simple buying a famous soccer player from Brazil, whereby more shell companies were used than a corporate multinational. Or all the created Tax havens, whereby American companies keep their money abroad.
No discussion that all of the above is a huge discussion about corruption versus honesty.
The more interesting debate in this for me personally is culture and where is the ethical line of integrity and just doing business as usual. Don’t get me wrong I am anti bribery and pro honesty and integrity these are critical in my life.
But then customs…..
- Gift giving is very common in countries like India and China and shows friendship
- Inviting people including families for dinners in Latin America is critical else you do not do any business at all
- Giving financial gratitude for help in Africa is very common and often openly stated in the contract
And there are many more examples of the above in the world economy and yes also in western cultures as Europe and the United States, famous for lobbying.
So let’s take the UK-bribery act:
Bribing another person (section 1) – it is an offence to offer, promise or give a financial or other advantage to induce another person where (1) the briber intends the advantage to bring about an improper performance by another person of a relevant function or activity, or to reward improper performance of such a function or (2) the briber knows or believes that the acceptance of the advantage offered, promised or given in itself constitutes the improper performance of a relevant function or activity. The offence is not committed if it is permitted (or required) by the applicable written law. The advantage can be offered, promised or given by the briber directly or through someone else.
Well here we go, read the above and we know it is going to be a very thin line between local customs and bribery. That is the cultural debate and discussion where I do not have a direct solution for, except GUT-Feel. We know where we take the wrong path and I advise everyone to stay of that path. Don’t fool yourself by crossing a line that corruption becomes embedded in your system, because it is a local custom and realise that hosting an excellent dinner can be the best and most honest way to do business. My best advice is to really read about the country cultures, how transparent they are: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results and find your way through good customs, because we all know that adapting to the local culture will get you the business!