Posts Tagged ‘Bribery’

Lobbying and ethics

June 3, 2013

The UK is once again facing the unedifying view of Parliamentarians who offer their services for payment. It causes no shock any more. It has almost become the behaviour to be expected.

BBC:

Three peers have been accused of agreeing to carry out Parliamentary work for payment.

Undercover Sunday Times reporters filmed the men appearing to offer to help a fake solar energy company.

Ulster Unionist Lord Laird and Labour’s Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Cunningham deny wrongdoing.

The two Labour peers have been suspended from the party and Lord Laird has resigned the party whip pending an investigation.

In a separate investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme in conjunction with the Daily Telegraph, Lord Laird was also secretly filmed discussing a retainer to ask parliamentary questions.

But it is not lobbying or the Rules of Parliament which are the fundamental problem. It is the ethics of Parliamentarians which is.

Not much has changed since I wrote this back in 2010.

…….  While the range of all possible human behaviour is generated by the individual’s values, it is subject to:

  • Law, which defines what a person may not do.
  • Morals, which define what a person ought not to do whether or not it is lawful.
  • Ethics, which describe what is correct and desirable for a person to do; which will always be moral and will usually be lawful.

There are probably many politicians who do have admirable intentions and who do not get involved with the murkier side of political funding. But politicians whether in the US or Europe or in Asia do sell “access” into the world of regulations and approvals. MP’s and even Ministers in the UK are not shy in offering their paid services from time to time. Ministers in India have their performance ranked according to how much they raised for the party coffers. Japanese politicians approve roads and highways in their constituencies that nobody needs, except the civil contractors, their employees and their shareholders. Parliamentarians across the world offer their services to raise questions in parliament or in parliamentary committees. The skimming off of funds, misuse of subsidies and regulatory scams such as the Carbon Trading scam are legendary in the European Union. All over the world many politicians propose the “pork belly” projects in their own constituencies, sometimes with little competition, to add to appropriations legislation. Just in the US alone there has been between 13 and 27 Billion US$ of appropriations for “pork” projects for each year between 2005 and 2009. Assuming that these projects just followed US or OECD guidelines on corruption, but made use of all the loopholes available, the contract awards could have legitimised between 400 M US$ and 800 M US $ every year which could have – and probably has – ended up in the funds of political parties and their lobbyists. A large number of the people involved in these channels have rather “sticky fingers” which allows the amassing of individual wealth as it flows. …….

….. In my experience, which is limited to contracting in the power generation industry, the reverse sequence, where corporations initiate the whole process while seeking competitive advantage and offer  pay-offs to politicians or contributions to their party funds, is not unknown but probably not as prevalent. …….

……. There is a pervasive atmosphere within the business world today taking the view that ethics is not a matter for corporations. Milton Friedman, Peter Drucker and others must bear their share of the responsibility for having propagated the view that corporations should only be concerned with the profit they deliver to shareholders. They have – maybe inadvertently – supported the view that humans in a corporate setting can and should abdicate their own ethical codes. The Wall Street Journal has declared from on high that ethics cannot be learned and ethics courses are irrelevant to business. Utter rubbish of course, but even the “newspapers of record” such as the New York Times or The Times or Der Spiegel or the Wall Street Journal have lost their famed objectivity and have become political advocacy channels. It is such high-profile and basically amoral views which have been greatly responsible for providing a cloak of respectability for the attitude that:

         i.            Corporations have no business to concern themselves with ethics, and

       ii.            Even if ethics is important then compliance with law is a sufficient substitute for having a code of ethics, and

    iii.            If an action is seen to be compliant with laws then this is sufficient.

………

The fundamental reason for behaviour to be ethical is not because of some collateral benefit it may bring but simply because it is the right and proper thing to do. The right and correct thing to do is sufficient in itself, and does not need excuses or justification. In spite of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion, ethics can be taught and can be developed.

from Essence of a Manager 

Cheating epidemic at UK universities

March 6, 2011

The entrepreneurial spirit is strong and growing at British universities. A survey of 84 universities has revealed a depressing picture of the extent to which plagiarism, impersonation and bribery has entered the mainstream of university life. The Telegraph reports:

image:soniceclectic.com

A cheating epidemic is sweeping universities with thousands of students caught plagiarising, trying to bribe lecturers and buying essays from the internet.

A survey of more than 80 universities has revealed that academic misconduct is soaring at institutions across the country.

More than 17,000 incidents of cheating were recorded by universities in the 2009-10 academic year – up at least 50 per cent in four years. But the true figure will be far higher because many were only able to provide details of the most serious cases and let lecturers deal with less serious offences. Only a handful of students were expelled for their misdemeanours among those universities which disclosed how cheats were punished.

Most of the incidents were plagiarism in essays and other coursework, but others examples include:

  • Three cases categorised as “impersonation” by Derby University and three at Coventry, along with 10 “uses of unauthorised technology”
  • Kent University reported at least one case where a student attempted to “influence a teacher or examiner improperly”.
  • At the University of East Anglia students submitted pieces of work which contained identical errors, while others completed reports which were “almost identical to that of another student”, a spokesman said, while one was caught copying sections from the Wikipedia website.
  • A student sitting an exam at the University of the West of Scotland was caught with notes stored in an MP3 player.
  • * A Bradford University undergraduate completed work at home, smuggled it into an examination then claimed it had been written during the test.
  • The University of Central Lancashire, at Preston, reported students had been caught using a “listening and/or communications device” during examinations.
  • Keele undergraduates sitting exams were found to have concealed notes in the lavatory, stored on a mobile telephone and written on tissues while two students were found guilty of “falsifying a mentor’s signature on practice assessment documents to gain academic benefit”. …

…. The survey exposed for the first time a huge leap in the number of incidents compared with just four years earlier, with a 53 per cent jump from 9,100 to 14,200 among the 70 institutions able to provide comparable data.

Cheating was reported widely among undergraduates but there were also significant numbers reported among postgraduates. For example, Loughborough reported 151 incidents last year of which 43 were committed by postgraduates. …


Widespread corruption within Turkish customs: Bribes pool of $125 million

January 9, 2011

In Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Turkey ranks together with countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Slovenia but somewhat better than Italy.

A bribery ring composed of customs officials in Turkey and including the Director of the Istanbul Region has been revealed. It appears that the 34 arrested shared a bribes pool which in the period of the 6 month investigation is estimated to have contained about $125 million.

From the magnitude of the bribes pool it would seem that Turkey is well qualified for membership of the European Union and the monetary value of this case compares “well” with the Formula 1 bribery case in Germany – though that involved just one individual(?).

It was announced today that:

Thirty-four individuals serving at the İstanbul Customs Regional Directorate have been detained in a major investigation into bribery and corruption allegations at the customs department. The suspects include the chief director of the İstanbul Customs Regional Directorate.

The operation was carried out on Friday.

The allegations against the suspects include the collection of money paid in bribes in a pool and then the distribution of this money to İstanbul customs officials every Friday on the basis of rank and seniority. The investigators claim Chief Director Lütfi Ekinci was aware of this practice among his staff. Ekinci was detained in Mersin, where he was vacationing in his summerhouse.
The suspects allegedly relied on three methods to take bribes from companies importing goods to Turkey. One was to force companies that had all their documents in order to give money, calling this a “donation.” The other method was showing the value of an imported good to be nine-tenths less than the actual value on paper. In other words, an item that would normally cost TL 10 would be recorded as costing TL 1. A third method the officials used was falsifying documents and showing those products that are subject to higher taxes — such as cigarettes — as if they belong in another taxation category. The difference would be taken by the customs officials and added to the bribery pool. Investigators estimate the amount channeled into the bribe fund was TL 200 million ($125 million)…….. The center of the raids was the İstanbul Atatürk Airport Customs and the Ambarlı Customs Zone, but the raids were staged simultaneously at 20 different addresses. Hayrettin Eker, the İstanbul Atatürk Airport Customs Directorate Cargo Terminal chief, and Smuggling Intelligence and Narcotic Department Chief Coşkun Cihanoğlu were also detained in the operation. Documents and computers in the offices of the two men were seized by the police.

The police found TL 20,000 inside an envelope in Eker’s office. A total of TL 150,000 was found on other customs officials detained in the operation, which the investigators claim was taken in bribes. Investigators say the operations will extend to the companies that were involved in the customs bribery scheme.


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