Tag Archives: corruption

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #21: After Serving Time for Violating the FCPA, Richard Bistrong Counsels Others on How to Avoid the Same Fate

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson (left) and Ken Jaques (center) with guest Richard Bistrong.

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson (left) and Ken Jaques (center) with guest Richard Bistrong.

Former FCPA violator and current anti-bribery consultant Richard Bistrong (@richardbistrong) was convicted of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, cooperated with the FBI, and served time in prison. Today he works with companies to help them deal with anti-bribery and compliance issues around the world. He discusses what led to his conviction, and what he learned about corruption risks and the incentive structures that make bribery more likely. He also shares the advice he would give his younger self before he embarked on that first international sales trip overseas that started it all.

Learn more about his work at www.RichardBistrong.com.

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Charting a Way Forward for Business in Kandahar, Afghanistan

Kandahar PBA picture 4

On April 27, the Kandahar branch of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce & Industries and 28 other major business and sectoral associations in Kandahar province, with CIPE’s support, released the Kandahar Provincial Business Agenda report at an official launch event in Kandahar City.

The PBA report lists the primary concerns of the private sector and impediments to commercial growth in Kandahar and other neighboring provinces, as well as a set of concrete policy recommendations intended to overcome these barriers.  These policy recommendations include requests to simplify business registration procedures and documents, lowering tax rates, and improving public infrastructure, as well as recommendations more specific to Kandahar province, including taking steps to improve security conditions at the border crossing in Boldak, on the Pakistani border.

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Russia’s Rent-Seeking Downward Spiral

It is clear that if we do not start taking action today, including by carrying out structural reforms, we could end up going into a lengthy period of economic stagnation tomorrow. Our economy is still based primarily on natural resources rather than on manufacturing. Our economic system has changed little in essence. Where does most of our money come from? From oil, gas, metals and other raw materials.

– Vladimir Putin, Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, April 3, 2001

Fifteen years later, the Russian economy envisioned by that progressive speech by Putin in April 2001 seems to be a distant memory. Russia’s economy, and budget, are still largely dependent upon the sale of oil and the majority of Russian industry is still based on extractive industries. The modern vision of Russia in that speech, one deeply embedded into the international system, where property rights are protected by the undiscriminating rule of law, has been replaced by a cynical “managed” system of crony capitalism where profits are skimmed off by insiders while Russia has isolated itself by its actions on the international stage.

Since 2001, record-setting commodity prices have supported increased social benefits, military spending, and infrastructure investments, each of which has supported corruption schemes where insiders profit off of the state’s largess (see the cost of the Sochi Olympics as Exhibit A). High commodity prices also allowed the Russian government to slowly smother individual rights and free speech at home and, largely through key investments in media, buy the country a larger voice in affairs abroad.

Rather than pulling away from a resource-based economy, Russia’s entire economy appears to now be moving in near perfect correlation with energy prices (see chart below).

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #14: Arian Ardie on How Indonesian Companies are Coming to Grips with Anti-Corruption Compliance

Democracy that Delivers Splash-01

CIPE Indonesia Program Coordinator Arian Ardie (Twitter: @aajkt) talks about the burgeoning Indonesian economy, foreign investment opportunities, and how Indonesian companies are coming to terms with what anti-corruption compliance means for them. Ardie also discusses the challenges of meeting cultural norms while being compliant with international business practices, and the inherent “sloppiness” of implementing decentralization and democracy in one of most populous countries in the world.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #12: CIPE’s John Morrell on Tackling Corruption — What Can Be Done to Change “Business as Usual”?

Podcast hosts  Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with John Morrell (center)

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with John Morrell (center)

In this week’s podcast, CIPE’s Regional Director for Asia John Morrell discusses when he witnessed for the first time how lack of governance and corruption undermines democracy and how that experience shapes his work today. Morrell talks about business-led solutions to corruption challenges and a CIPE project underway in Thailand that is changing the business culture in that country. Morrell also discusses his early career experiences in the Philippines and a non-profit he founded there to support an orphanage for abandoned children.

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Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show!

How Kenya’s Private Sector is Addressing the “Supply Side” of Corruption

Photo: Citizen Digital

Photo: Citizen Digital

A recent report by Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) paints a rather grim picture of the extent of corruption in Kenya. In the top 10 counties by average bribe size, bribes range from KSH 80,000 (about $800 US) to about KSH 6,000 ($60 US) — in a country where the average monthly wage is just $76. Situations where bribes are most commonly solicited include obtaining basic services such as medical attention or a national identity card. Not surprisingly, Transparency International puts Kenya at 139th out of 168 countries in its latest corruption ranking.

Even a cursory review of Kenyan daily news coverage shows that corruption at all levels (from county to national) and in all its forms (from bribes to graft) is a major issue of concern for the country. Many commentators express frustration at the extent of the problem and the dearth of constructive solutions. Against that background, CIPE and its partner organization, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), are working to help change Kenya’s corruption-tainted narrative and provide the private sector with tools to proactively build integrity into business operations.

To that end, CIPE, KAM, and Global Compact Network Kenya (GCNK), where KAM serves as the secretariat, created a joint training program for Kenyan companies on anti-corruption compliance. The training is based on CIPE’s Anti-Corruption Compliance: A Guide for Mid-Sized Companies in Emerging Markets and was adapted to the unique needs and concerns of local businesses. As KAM’s Chairman Pradeep Paunrana put it, “You cannot clap with one hand, it takes two people to make a corrupt deal.” Through this initiative, Kenya’s private sector is taking responsibility for holding itself to a higher standard and disrupting the “supply side” of corruption.

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Carrots Before Sticks: Celebrating International Anti-Corruption Day with Successful Anti-Corruption Approaches

On Wednesday the world celebrated the International Anti-Corruption Day, designated in 2003 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly when it adopted the UN Convention against Corruption. Recognizing the importance of fighting corruption in that way was a major step in a growing global effort to remove the taboo around addressing corruption in the international discourse on development. Indeed, the new expectation of governments and businesses alike is to face corruption head on everywhere it cripples democracies and markets.

This year’s theme for the International Anti-Corruption Day is breaking the corruption chain. CIPE’s work with private sector organizations in countries around the world reflects precisely that objective. In many environments where corruption has become entrenched, is very hard for an individual or a company to stand up against abuses such as bribery or extortion. Furthermore, it is hard for businesses to make a credible commitment to integrity without sufficient knowledge on how to build proper management systems to prevent corruption in daily operations. These limitations can be overcome through better anti-corruption compliance and collective action. These private sector-led approaches have the power to break corruption chains and make a real difference.

Earlier this year my colleague Frank Brown and I presented CIPE’s experiences from Russia, Kenya, Ukraine, and Thailand at the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics Institute in Las Vegas. To celebrate the International Anti-Corruption Day, we captured key takeaways from our presentation in CIPE’s latest Economic Reform Feature Service article:

Article at a glance:

  • Corruption is primarily an institutional issue and combating it requires proactively preventing corrupt practices through supply- and demand-side reforms.
  • Collective action and anti-corruption compliance are practical approaches that reform-minded businesses can use to build a critical mass of companies committed to operating with integrity.

Companies in emerging markets can greatly benefit from improving their anti-corruption practices, which makes them more attractive business partners in global value chains.

Read the whole article here.

Anna Kompanek is Director for Multiregional Programs at CIPE.