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Bribery, corruption and banking

I’m sitting in a restaurant the other day, and hear the following conversation …

Banker One: “So what’s this Bribery Act thingamajig?”

Banker Two: “New Law.  Came into force July 1st.” mnum, yum, mnum.

Banker One: “Yea, I know that”, mnum yum. “I meant what does it mean?”

Banker Two: glug, glug.  “Can’t take a bung anymore.”

Banker One: “You do?” Mouth open, food visible.

Banker Two: “Not anymore ha,ha, ha”. Glug.

Banker One: “So what’s the basics on this?” Mnum.

Banker Two: “Well. Let me tell you …”

The pin-striped gel boy then went into a lengthy overview on the whole thing.

Rather than bore you with all the detail, it can be summarised as a new law that came into force in the UK on July 1st 2011.

The Bribery Act introduces a new corporate offence for, you guessed it, bribery.

A person is guilty of bribery “if he (or she) offers or gives a financial or other incentive to someone with the intention of getting that person or a third party to perform a function or activity improperly or as a reward for an improper act”.

He or she is also guilty if they know or believe that the offer or payment itself constitutes an improper performance of a relevant function or activity.  There are four ways this might happen:

  1. “Active bribery”, where someone purposefully gives another person a financial or other advantage to induce them to perform their duty improperly;
  2. “Passive bribery” where you offer, request, receive or accept a bribe;
  3. Bribing a foreign government official in order to win or keep business for your company, or to gain a business advantage for your organisation; and
  4. An offence if you let someone commit one of the above offences on your or your company’s behalf.

This is old news, but I was amused by how the conversation between the two bankers proceeded.

Banker One: “So what about the Clubs?” mnum, yum, glug.

Banker Two: “No can do, no more.” Gnaw, gnaw, ribs.

Banker One: “Damn, I liked the girls.” Splutter, spit, chew.

Guess you get the idea of how they’re eating, so I’ll just recount the conversation as I heard it from here.

Banker Two: But it does make me wonder.

Banker One: Wonder what?

Banker Two: About the Clubs.

Banker One: We can still go.

Banker Two: Not those Clubs.  I mean, are we bribing someone if we take them to see Chelsea?

Banker One: No way.

Banker Two: In Thailand?

Banker One: You did?  Like the Hangover II?

Banker Two: Better!  She did far more than ping pong.

Banker One: Get outta here. Tell me more …

I’ll leave that bit out, as it got a bit close to the edge, but the conversation remained in Asia.

Banker Two: But we’re gonna find it harder these days, aren’t we?

Banker One: ‘Cos of the banking crisis?

Banker Two: No, ‘cos of this stupid Bribery Act.

Banker One: How so?

Banker Two: well, my main action these days is in China, and you get nowhere in China without a bung here and there.

Banker One: Ah, but taking a bung might get you hung.

Banker Two: Only recently.  For years, those guys got away with all sorts of stuff.

They then went into a list of their favourite Asian films, which was pretty juvenile.  I almost wanted to step in when they were talking about which Lee was better: Christopher, Ang or Jet.

Of course, Ang is not an actor and Jet spells his surname differently, but that's another story.

The conversation finally ended up with further surreal chat …

Banker Two: What about Gaddafi?

Banker One: Yea.  Shame.

Banker Two: Tyrant, I know.

Banker One: No.  I meant losing his account.

Banker Two: You had it?

Banker One: We had it.  He moved all the funds out to HSBC.

Banker Two: Told you Asia is where the action is.

Banker One: At least we’re still trading, unlike the Italian guys who partnered with him.

Banker Two: Whatever.  Any idea where he is these days?

Banker One: What?  The Italian?

Banker Two: No, Gaddafi.  I heard the old lag had already jumped ship. 

Banker One: You know he had a load of investments in London property …

At this point, a person extraordinarily similar in height and stature to Colonel Gaddafi walked past … it couldn’t be, could it?

 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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