Michele La Neve explains how to avoid corruption pitfalls in gifts and hospitality

You Refused to Pay a Bribe. Now What?

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First of all, congratulations. You made a difficult decision; it is rather easy claiming to be compliant, being compliant is another deal.

On the top of everything you have been brave as not everyone would have done the same, especially while doing business abroad.

Perhaps in the country where you are currently doing business corruption is widespread, relevant laws may not be properly enforced or the  public officials you are dealing with may grant you an important contract or an authorization.

Besides the aforementioned you may be scared; of being threatened and not being able to stop it, scared for your personal safety (or your family’s or your employees’).

That is absolutely normal and understandable, but  let’s see what we can do about that.

You may have read that bribing is wrong, but what happens when you refuse to pay?

Building a strong local network is the first task to accomplish, possibly before entering in a new market; you should surround yourself with trustworthy people on the spot to better overcome possible issues with local officials.

On this regard, the local Chamber of Commerce might help, otherwise, you may contact your business partners and asking for advice.

Due diligence is essential, you have to do your homework while exploring new business opportunities, particularly if you are going to partner up with unknown organizations or physical persons. Please bear in mind that having a local partner is still compulsory in some countries; assessing the ultimate ownership of such organizations will help you spotting inappropriate ties with public officials.

Another way is reaching out the relevant trade office of your diplomatic service; you are a tax payer, you are their employer and they have to assist you in the best possible way.

In conclusion, your ‘soft skills’ can be very useful in such delicate situations but please, be aware that the above mentioned are just examples, in practice, you will always need a careful, ad hoc, assessment of your particular situation. 

Regardless your final decisions, you should always bear in mind the security of your employees and preserving your business assets.

This would be an appropriate ‘tone from the top’.

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Michele La Neve

White Collar Crime Attorney at Whitecotton Law Dedicated to Helping Clients Overcome Unforeseen Business Risks.

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