Anyone who has been doing international business long enough knows that every country is different, amongst the others, for culture and legal framework. The latter is very important when it comes to anti-corruption as businesspeople have to be prepared to face challenges they normally would not in their home countries.
It is a rather common scenario when you struggled a bit to enter into a foreign (difficult) market and you started enjoying the results of your work (hopefully!) when the problem of corruption arises.
A competitor, or simply another foreign organization, started paying to speed up the local bureaucratic procedures (somehow usual in custom operations) or to gain other undue benefits from local public officials.
You realize pretty soon, and in the hard way, that this behavior affects your company and your co-workers as well because the same people you dealt with for long time, now expect you to pay too; you may understand this expectation in several ways, for instance
- You are experiencing significant delays in custom operations or in any other administrative task,
- You receive explicit requests in this sense.
Delays in customs operations are difficult to explain to clients, situation which puts you and your organization in a tight spot…
Regardless the pressure you feel, DON’T PAY!
You will start with a small amount but you will be requested to pay more and more. It’s a situation with no turning back point, think carefully before getting into something you won’t longer control.
Let’s see some strategies to get you out of troubles.
- If you are experiencing unusual delays, get in touch – in writing – with the relevant offices to ask the reasons of such delays. In this way you will make them understand you are not willing to pay bribes,
- If no (or not credible) explanation is provided, get in touch with the trade office of your Embassy. They live in the same country in which you are operating and helping you is part of their (well paid) job,
- Look for alternatives. Oftentimes it is possible dealing with different people or offices to achieve the same result, whenever possible you should take advantage of this opportunity.
The aforementioned are just some of the most common strategies to use in these cases, I did not talk about reporting because there are countless situations that must be addressed on case by case basis that is why my best suggestion is seeking specialized legal advice, only in that way you will receive specialized support which should not be limited to the legal sphere but rather being business oriented.
For instance, an appropriate cooling off period can be needed and presented as part of a possible solution.