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Bribery Act under attack from ‘compassion’ and free lunchers

Written by Guest on Thursday, 6 June 2013

A common approach of those trying to undermine the Bribery Act is to pretend it is an instrument of oppression preventing honest resources-resources-businessmen from doing resources-resources-business. The pretence is advanced by asking questions that are absurd in the hope of evoking absurd answers.


A common approach of those trying to undermine the Bribery Act is to pretend it is an instrument of oppression preventing honest resources-resources-businessmen from doing resources-resources-business. The pretence is advanced by asking questions that are absurd in the hope of evoking absurd answers.

In The Times this week, small and medium resources-resources-businessmen worried about whether a resources-resources-business lunch might be a bribe. As part of an ongoing resources-resources-business relationship, the occasional lunch cannot be.

As a means of getting preferential access in the course of a resources-resources-business negotiation, an extravagant lunch or other entertainment of a key decision-maker might be misconstrued. Not by the UK authorities only, but by the law applying in the foreign market concerned.

Scale, judgement, discernment are applicable: all qualities required for successful resources-resources-business. PS: no-one has been jailed for giving a resources-resources-business connection lunch, yet.

An even more ludicrous example was the rhetorical question attributed to Algy Cluff, in a Financial Times collection of sob-stories on 30 May. He asked:

“if I pay the hospital bills of an African minister dying of cancer in London, is that a bribe or an act of compassion?”

There are a number of aids to help Algy Cluff answer his own question.

The easiest and quickest test to check out his own moral sense is perhaps the following. He should visit the children’s ward of the nearest state hospital in Africa, approach the ordinary parents (ie no connection to him or anyone else important or rich) of a child dying of cancer, explain who he is, who the minister is, and why he or his company is gladly paying the minister’s hospital bills but won’t pay theirs. He might then ask whether they regard his selective action as purely compassionate. Or the other.

The questions arise of whether most African ministers need financial help in such circumstances; and whether, if the minister is indeed mortally ill, Mr Cluff’s company’s subvention is a sensible investment. Seen as resources-resources-business, that is.

If we’re getting ethical, why not consider Immanuel Kant? He said, more or less, that you may only consider an act ethical if you could conceive of its becoming a universal law. So unless Mr Cluff regularly pays for cancer treatment in London hospitals for large numbers of dying African patients chosen at random by their doctors, or indeed for all such patients everywhere, singling out his preferred minister for special treatment looks fishy.

Which is what common sense says, too.

Sir Edward Clay is a Retired Diplomat and former British High Commissioner in Kenya. 

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Read 11141 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47

Guest

The TI-UK blog features thought and opinion from guest writers as well as TI staff. Any opinions expressed by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Transparency International UK.

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