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What should companies give up for Lent?

Written by Robert Barrington on Wednesday, 5 March 2014

When was the world’s first bribe paid? A very long time ago – it is part of that long list of things that is cited as the world’s oldest profession.

When was the world’s first bribe paid? A very long time ago – it is part of that long list of things that is cited as the world’s oldest profession.

One of the most interesting talks I have heard on bribery is from Prof Mark Knights of Warwick University – who has done a fascinating analysis of how corruption has changed in Britain over the years. In many ways it is an encouraging story – illustrating how a state can move over a few decades from a situation in which a seat in parliament can be bought judges bribed and military spending diverted to private bank accounts, to being relatively clean.

Today, another interesting take on historic bribery came into my inbox – pointing out that the Thirty Pieces of Silver was in fact a bribe.

What is interesting about this is the ramifications of the bribe. Presumably the Pharisees (or was it Saducees?) thought they had been rather clever in paying a bribe that resulted in the crucifixion.  They little thought that they were helping to found a new global religion that would see their own power comprehensively superseded. Judas, the recipient, has suffered severe brand damage and become a by-word for betrayal.

The lesson I draw from that is that whether you are a kleptocratic government or a corrupt company, don’t imagine that demanding or paying a bribe is the answer to your problems. The unintended consequences can be vast.

What should we all be giving up for Lent and beyond? Bribes, of course.


Read 7358 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47

Robert Barrington

Robert is TI-UK's Executive Director. You can view his full bio here, and tweet him @TIukED.

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