What works?

What works?

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January 17, 2009

What works?

This forum is for anyone interested in reducing bribery in international commercial transactions.  The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and similar laws worldwide have increased the cost of getting this issue wrong. 

Sign on to read case studies describing strategies to minimize the risk of doing business internationally, while remaining competitive. 

Post your own thoughts on common challenges and describe your proposed solutions.

Look here for news about developments in anti-bribery compliance.

Alexandra Wrage

Benchmarking Staffing Levels
What works?

Comments 6

  1. MVR

    Here is something that worked in a somewhat "butterfly-hurricane" sequence. I was a member of my government’s consular service, posted in a newly opened office in a country where corruption and bribes at all levels were the accepted and expected way of doing business with officials. My (European) country was a coveted destination for local citizens from all walks of life – from prospective economic immigrants to political refugees and rich criminals. At the same time, the visa regime I had to apply was so restrictive that only about 5% of all applicants had a chance to be granted entry visas. During my first week on the job, while I was interviewing an applicant, he handed me an envelope presumably containing some missing paperwork I had requested. When I opened the envelope, I saw that the paper was still missing, but there was a banknote instead, amounting to about half the yearly salary of a local mid-level government employee. The applicant was visibly not one of the criminally rich local elite, and the sum must have been far beyond his means. I did not want to embarrass the person, but at the same time did not want to leave any doubt about the policies of my office. I called a local staff member into the office (presumably to help with interpretation, but in fact to be a witness to the exchange), held the envelope in one hand and the note in the other, and told the applicant: “It seems that you have taken the wrong envelope to this meeting. I am sure this is an innocent mistake, but it may convey the wrong impression both about you and about my office. Please make sure to avoid such mistakes, and be assured, that your application will be adjudicated on its merits only, and you have to meet none other than the legal requirements…” The poor guy’s jaw dropped, he started gathering his paperwork from my desk, but I asked him to leave it there and assured him that his application will be reviewed as soon as the paperwork was complete. I was told a week later by my local staff that the word spread like fire among my prospective clients in the city of 3 million. I was both happy with and sobered by these developments – happy with the positive example set and reputation acquired, but sobered and a bit subdued by the fact that an official who takes no bribes was obviously a cultural shock. There was a long way to go.

  2. Bruce Horowitz

    It was refreshing to read MVR's response about "what works" for government officials when they are faced with a bribe payment or offer. In a bribing culture, MVR not only rejected the bribe, but provided a valuable anti-bribery lesson and face-saving withdrawal route for the briber. By including a witness to the return of the envelope, MVR also provided a measure of self-defense.

  3. MVR

    Here is something that worked in a somewhat "butterfly-hurricane" sequence. I was a member of my government’s consular service, posted in a newly opened office in a country where corruption and bribes at all levels were the accepted and expected way of doing business with officials. My (European) country was a coveted destination for local citizens from all walks of life – from prospective economic immigrants to political refugees and rich criminals. At the same time, the visa regime I had to apply was so restrictive that only about 5% of all applicants had a chance to be granted entry visas. During my first week on the job, while I was interviewing an applicant, he handed me an envelope presumably containing some missing paperwork I had requested. When I opened the envelope, I saw that the paper was still missing, but there was a banknote instead, amounting to about half the yearly salary of a local mid-level government employee. The applicant was visibly not one of the criminally rich local elite, and the sum must have been far beyond his means. I did not want to embarrass the person, but at the same time did not want to leave any doubt about the policies of my office. I called a local staff member into the office (presumably to help with interpretation, but in fact to be a witness to the exchange), held the envelope in one hand and the note in the other, and told the applicant: “It seems that you have taken the wrong envelope to this meeting. I am sure this is an innocent mistake, but it may convey the wrong impression both about you and about my office. Please make sure to avoid such mistakes, and be assured, that your application will be adjudicated on its merits only, and you have to meet none other than the legal requirements…” The poor guy’s jaw dropped, he started gathering his paperwork from my desk, but I asked him to leave it there and assured him that his application will be reviewed as soon as the paperwork was complete. I was told a week later by my local staff that the word spread like fire among my prospective clients in the city of 3 million. I was both happy with and sobered by these developments – happy with the positive example set and reputation acquired, but sobered and a bit subdued by the fact that an official who takes no bribes was obviously a cultural shock. There was a long way to go.

  4. Bruce Horowitz

    It was refreshing to read MVR's response about "what works" for government officials when they are faced with a bribe payment or offer. In a bribing culture, MVR not only rejected the bribe, but provided a valuable anti-bribery lesson and face-saving withdrawal route for the briber. By including a witness to the return of the envelope, MVR also provided a measure of self-defense.

  5. MVR

    Here is something that worked in a somewhat "butterfly-hurricane" sequence. I was a member of my government’s consular service, posted in a newly opened office in a country where corruption and bribes at all levels were the accepted and expected way of doing business with officials. My (European) country was a coveted destination for local citizens from all walks of life – from prospective economic immigrants to political refugees and rich criminals. At the same time, the visa regime I had to apply was so restrictive that only about 5% of all applicants had a chance to be granted entry visas. During my first week on the job, while I was interviewing an applicant, he handed me an envelope presumably containing some missing paperwork I had requested. When I opened the envelope, I saw that the paper was still missing, but there was a banknote instead, amounting to about half the yearly salary of a local mid-level government employee. The applicant was visibly not one of the criminally rich local elite, and the sum must have been far beyond his means. I did not want to embarrass the person, but at the same time did not want to leave any doubt about the policies of my office. I called a local staff member into the office (presumably to help with interpretation, but in fact to be a witness to the exchange), held the envelope in one hand and the note in the other, and told the applicant: “It seems that you have taken the wrong envelope to this meeting. I am sure this is an innocent mistake, but it may convey the wrong impression both about you and about my office. Please make sure to avoid such mistakes, and be assured, that your application will be adjudicated on its merits only, and you have to meet none other than the legal requirements…” The poor guy’s jaw dropped, he started gathering his paperwork from my desk, but I asked him to leave it there and assured him that his application will be reviewed as soon as the paperwork was complete. I was told a week later by my local staff that the word spread like fire among my prospective clients in the city of 3 million. I was both happy with and sobered by these developments – happy with the positive example set and reputation acquired, but sobered and a bit subdued by the fact that an official who takes no bribes was obviously a cultural shock. There was a long way to go.

  6. Bruce Horowitz

    It was refreshing to read MVR's response about "what works" for government officials when they are faced with a bribe payment or offer. In a bribing culture, MVR not only rejected the bribe, but provided a valuable anti-bribery lesson and face-saving withdrawal route for the briber. By including a witness to the return of the envelope, MVR also provided a measure of self-defense.

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