Bribery and corruption

Earlier this year both houses of Congress voted to nix a bi-partisan law that would have forced US oil, gas and mining companies to disclose annually, and project by project, royalty, licensing and backhanders to foreign governments. As you can imagine the American Petroleum Institute labelled this more big government interference that puts US companies at a competitive disadvantage. Trump naturally agreed. He and his friends are fiercely hostile to any moves to prevent corruption.

Actually corruption is bad for business, which thrives when there is a level playing field. Corruption is believed to equate to 5% of global GNP every year – about $2.6 trillion (yes, you read it correctly!), and raises the cost of doing business by 10% per annum. Bribes are useless – they build no roads, schools or hospitals. What they do do in developing countries is represent 3.7 times the value of global official development funds such are disbursed by the World Bank, AID etc.

The EU has insisted on companies declaring their backhanders, and about 120 companies have complied, revealing $150 billion worth of “off balance sheet ” payments. Now that the Great Oligarchy has abandoned transparency and decency these companies will clearly be allowed to revert to their previous behaviour.

Note: twice in my life as a businessman I was asked point-blank to bribe a customer in return for a large contract. In both cases I flatly refused. I mention this because it is not just the huge international corporations that are playing this game; it is rife throughout industry, down to quite small companies. The playing field IS NOT LEVEL!

It is small comfort that everyone is doing it and, indeed, you cannot build a big corporation anywhere in the world without graft and corruption. The whole American political systen is based upon favours in return for campaign cash, which I consider corruption. Oil, gas, major construction and many other industries thrive on it, a sad fact of life. Speaking personally, even before I bacame involved in Epicureanism I had decided that I felt more comfortable running a business ethically, and leaving the pushy, greedy types to get on with it. One has to live with one’s conscience.

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