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Bribery – Don’t Pave Your Way to a Pitfall

Not all bribes look like bribes.

It may seem that you are just making things run more smoothly, but you could be running into trouble—watch for the red flags.

Congratulations! You just got the word that your company is positioned to win the deal with a foreign government. All that’s left is for a government agent to check out the production line.

Your boss suggests you wire money to the official to expedite the trip. She figures you are just bypassing red tape to meet the government’s schedule. The official would get the money anyway. You’re not doing anything illegal. Right? Not so fast!

Dealing with foreign governments, officials, and representatives can be tricky. Awareness is the key to prevention. If you don’t know the law, you could violate it without knowing it.

If you think about the potential pitfalls, you’re less likely to fall into them.

I’m sure the expenses are legitimate. We all lose receipts. While it’s legitimate to pay invoices and receipts, you cross the line when the records are incomplete.

Do not pay invoices without supporting documentation. Invoices without descriptions of services provided, or a vague description such as “services rendered”, are a red flag.

Hire that vendor to provide the subassembly? Sure, our client probably knows best.
It’s probably not unusual for your company to work with subcontractors to fulfill parts of your contract. But who chooses those subcontractors?

When an official government agent dictates the third parties you use to fulfill parts of contracts, that agent may have gone too far. Another red flag has been raised.

Wow, that vendor is terrific! And I can make some extra money just for letting other people know. It’s nice that you hit it off with the vendor rep, and great that you’ve found a vendor whose work you admire. In fact, there’s no problem referring them to business associates.

But you can’t benefit monetarily. You can’t receive anything of value in exchange. That constitutes an attempt to bias your decision in the vendor’s favor. Didn’t you see that red flag?

They didn’t ask for money. They just wanted us to buy tickets to a drawing—and for a good cause. Not all charitable contributions are bribes. And not all solicitations are suspect. But isn’t your bid up for review?
And didn’t the request come from someone on the review committee? Red flag!

Charitable contributions during a bid review process are a violation of codes of ethics as well as anti-corruption laws.

Remember: bribery isn’t just about paying someone to give us business. It’s about giving someone enough value to unfairly bias their decisions.

The minute you find yourself explaining why an action is okay, stop and ask yourself if you are truly following good business practices.

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