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UK Bribery Abroad

Tetraethyl lead – a compound used in leaded petrol – was a major source of income for the international chemical firm Innospec, before 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.



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