Bribery on the Books

Monday, April 06, 2009

According to the World Bank, some multinational corporations have used bribery to get what they want for years. But all of that might be changing, thanks to a new investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. PBS’s Frontline, examines the world of corporate bribery in the new documentary "Black Money," which airs April 7th. We’ll be joined by Frontline correspondent Lowell Bergman.


Lowell Bergman

Comments [15]


It is interesting information, showing how corrupt the concept of a corporation is. But I am not so impressed by pursuing a U.S. business for what they do outside the U.S. It would be much more impressive if investigators were investigating our politicians for contacts with businesses outside the U.S. Such as congressmen that do not have time to see you but they meet with businessmen from countries that produce U.S. imports cheaper than we could make them here.

Apr. 07 2009 09:06 AM
Mark from NYC

Bribery has always been a fact of doing business around the world. I spent 6 years in the Middle East and the fact of the matter is, we might call it bribery, but it is a part of doing business. In Saudi Arabia for example it is fact that this part of doing business and if you want to play you have to pay, as long as it does not affect the product or service outcome.
Iraq is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The PM has to give the go ahead for any of his government officials to be investigated. In the end the people with be the on affect as funds appropriated has less multiply effect because of corruption. I think companies setup different vehicles to provide bride payment, either they inflate the cost of the service or product. One way or the other it is hard to stop this around the world.

Apr. 06 2009 12:39 PM
MC from Manhattan

Is there any other pull that Saudi Arabia has besides oil? Is that what's fueling most of this bribery? No pun intended.

Apr. 06 2009 12:38 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Why "Black Money", why not just Corporate Bribery or "white Collar Money"?

Apr. 06 2009 12:33 PM
hyderabadi from south orange

given that bribery has been around and it is quite common in the US, why is this attempt directed at Saudi-bashing being given so much time.

Apr. 06 2009 12:31 PM
Ebun from Brooklyn

adsf, this isn't American jawing it's Nigerian hopes that this would end, when the major highway to my city was paved by a subpar contractor who did such a shoddy job and was later discovered that he was awarded the contract after a bribe, we all suffered. I don't care if the bribe payments are made using free HIV drugs, it's still wrong mate!!

Apr. 06 2009 12:28 PM
Hugh from Brookyn

Has Mr. Bergman mentioned baksheesh -- the traditional 'extra' or 'bribe' common (genuinely a part of business or trade or commerce) in the middle east and south asia?

And by Mr. Bergman's definition of "bribe", prostitution is bribery. Prostitution may be legal or illegal, moral or immoral, but it isn't bribery (at least, not in all cases). So Mr. Bergman's definition, like most definitions, fails.

It does however succeed in capturing the standard illicit transactions in American politics and business (like the recently noted 'bonuses' on Wall Street -- or the distribution of TARP funds).

Apr. 06 2009 12:27 PM
Ken from Soho

The speaker's definition of a bribe as "payment for a service that would not be offered otherwise" is non-sensical; that would include payment to a barber for a haircut, or payment to a justice of the peace for a wedding ceremony.

Apr. 06 2009 12:26 PM

There are constant charges of bribery in the drafting committees of computer specifications with global significance, i.e. internet technology, to favor particular companies' technology.

Has he seen anything regarding this?

Apr. 06 2009 12:24 PM

So far you guys are conflating bribery w corruption.

one man's freedom tower/american express restoration of old shanghai/ j&j african bandaid giveaway is another man's bribe.

but turning your head and letting the inferior cement flow in exchange for a payoff might involve a bribe but other crimes are the dangerous ones. not making this distinction sounds like just self important americans jawing

Apr. 06 2009 12:16 PM
Tom M. from Toronto

Our own former Prime Minister - Brian Mulroney - was implicated in accepting bribes from Airbus by way of German intermediary. In fact, he is being investigated once again right now by our of our Parliamentary Committees. Shameful.

Apr. 06 2009 12:16 PM
Tony from San Jose, CA

Siemens main threat was to be barred from doing business with the US government (or even in the US). The fine is huge, but they settled for it because not allowed to do business is even worse.

Apr. 06 2009 12:12 PM


Apr. 06 2009 12:10 PM
Michael M Thomas from Brooklyn

Leonard: I wrote a novel called Black Money about 15 years ago - but that's not the point. Years ago, in Texas on my first book tour, a friend - CEO of big independent energy company - came up to me and announced that he was becoming an Austrian citizen.'Why?" I asked. "Simple," came the reply. "This way, I can bribe!"

Apr. 06 2009 10:41 AM
ebun from brooklyn

Much of the arguement in favor, okay maybe not favor but condoning bribery has been that it is the only way things get done in those countries. Transperancy international now produces a list of countries whose companies are more apt to pay bribes to go along with the list of countries more likely to recieve bribes. Bribery is unethical, plain and simple, it shows a lack of commitment to play fair to win a contract and once the contract is won, an excuse to provide sub par service. Quite frankly both the reciepient and the payer of bribes win. Those who are shafted are the rest of us, as a Nigerian (high on transparency internationals list), it pains me that we still allow this to go on.
Can your guest comment on the most recent indictment of KBR and what is likely to come of that?

Apr. 06 2009 08:49 AM

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