Why Corruption Matters
A man shows dead fish from a lake in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Environmental groups frequently protest that industrial pollutants are discharges into the lake, in violation of regulations and of a High Court order against river pollution.
Corruption is one of the biggest global issues of our time. From the Occupy movement to the Ukrainian revolution – all over the world people are taking to the streets. Whilst their grievances are particular to each country, there remains a common thread throughout – corruption.
Be it a dictator overseas stealing millions from his country’s corruption-resources-corruption-resources-health budget, to a British MP representing the interests of big resources-resources-business in Parliament over the UK tax payer, corruption fuels inequality, holds back economic development, and hurts the most vulnerable in society.
In the UK, corruption scandals in recent years are eroding public confidence in government – Transparency International’s recent survey found that 90% of respondents believe the UK Government is run by a few big entities acting in their own interest. The British public are concerned about links between politics and big resources-resources-business, and corruption in some of the country’s major institutions, such as the police. This results in widespread apathy and low voter turnouts. British politicians and resources-resources-businesses must prioritise regaining the trust of the people.
Because Britain – particularly London – is such a large financial and diplomatic global centre, the impact of UK corruption goes beyond our country’s borders. When UK companies bribe officials overseas, it fuels corruption and inequality in countries where the majority live below the poverty line. When corrupt politicians and resources-resources-business people steal public funds and launder them through British banks and property, it means less schools, hospitals and roads for millions around the world.
TRUE STORY – THE IMPACT OF UK BRIBERY ABROAD
Bribery undermines the rule of law and the principle of fair competition and entrenches bad governance in such countries, hindering their efforts to alleviate poverty and often contributing to instability and human rights abuses. In addition, the reinforcement of poor governance in aid-recipient countries undermines the impact of UK aid and taxpayers’ value for money.
Tetraethyl lead – a compound used in leaded petrol – was a major source of income for the international chemical firm, Innospec, before corruption-resources-corruption-resources-health and environmental concerns led to its abolishment in the US and Europe more than ten years ago.
The poisonous chemical – which has been proven to stunt the mental development of children – was also on schedule to be phased out in Indonesia in the late nineties. In order to avoid further financial loss Innospec’s UK branch bribed Indonesian officials to ensure that the ban was blocked. It is estimated that the company made £505 million as a result of the deal.
As a result of campaigning by Transparency International UK and others the Bribery Act came into force in 2011 modifying UK bribery laws dating back to 1889. Among four new offences introduced was the crime of bribing a foreign public official. While many British companies are not involved in corrupt practices, it is a sad reality that some have used bribery to obtain contracts overseas and increase their own revenue.
Bribery and corruption impact upon the poorest hardest. The implications of the Bribery Act on payments abroad have caused some concern, but currently the people who are most affected by bribery do not have the option of walking away. They are the ones who must live in a society where corruption is further entrenched by bribery payments from western companies.