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IBM Charged With Bribing Korean, Chinese Officials

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the conditions-on-the-ground-called-for-it dept.

Businesses 263

angry tapir writes "The US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged IBM with giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to South Korean and Chinese officials starting in the late 1990s, according to court documents. IBM has agreed to pay US$10 million to settle the SEC lawsuit."

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Bribery fines are funny (5, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555028)

"We're sorry we bribed these guys over there. How much do we have to pay you guys to make this problem go away?"

Re:Bribery fines are funny (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555076)

Seriously, doesn't it seem like the US SEC just wanted in on the deal? I'm against bribery because living in a culture of bribery is miserable. If China wants to have a system of bribes necessary to get anything done, let them do so. I don't want the SEC to import that culture over here!

Re:Bribery fines are funny (4, Interesting)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555158)

I know what you mean, but what else can you do other than levy a fine? It looks like from the article that the problem was with subsidiaries in other countries creating slush funds and IBM simply did not have controls in place to prevent that. I don't know if you could convict any US employee of the actual bribes or even for looking the other way. Some of them might have known about it, but good luck proving that. They could prove the company was liable, but they can't throw anyone in jail for it. They could prove IBM did not have sufficient controls, but they couldn't prove that the reason wasn't that their accounting group just plain sucked. Last I checked you can be fired, but it is much, much harder to convict someone for being bad at their job.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555180)

This is one of the fundamental problems with legal persons, accountability.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (3, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555388)

...what else can you do other than levy a fine?
You can throw the top executives who made the decisions in jail with the general prison population. Of course, executive hanging would more effectively reduce recidivism, particularly if done publicly on the nightly news.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (3)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555748)

Hanging for bribery? A little harsh don't you think?

Re:Bribery fines are funny (3)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555436)

There is no legal or ethical reason the SEC cannot have laws that penalize this kind of bribery with jail time by the people in the corporation who did the illegal acts. There is also no legal or ethical reason the SEC cannot require the kind of auditable bookkeeping that would make "looking the other way" a crime actively committed, rather than merely an obligation passively neglected.

The only reason we do not have those laws and enforce them is that corporations own the legislators and regulators the people put in charge of these consequences. And that the corporations competing with each other accept the unfair competition, instead of using the legislators and regulators they own to make and enforce such laws properly.

And of course the only reason any of that is the situation is because we the people accept it, even insist on it.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (2)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555450)

I don't know if you could convict any US employee of the actual bribes or even for looking the other way. Some of them might have known about it, but good luck proving that. They could prove the company was liable, but they can't throw anyone in jail for it.

Why not? If you can't find Joe Fatpockets who handed the cash over, get his boss. Seeing as it was more likely a cheque or transfer of money, I am sure that there is a lovely audit trail of who authorised that and who requested it.

If I can go to jail for bribing someone, I don't see why the same shouldn't apply just because a COMPANY did it. IBM bribed a few (or many) hundred thousand dollars. They likely gained many (or a few) millions from those bribes in return business. A $10 mill fine isn't going to mean anything. They have likely made a heck of a lot more in return anyhow. Make an example if you want to start teaching your companies to trade above board. $10 million fine AND someone goes to jail for bribery. Start at the top of the food chain - I am sure the CEO will track it down the chain to find the dodgy guy - or throw him in jail, that's what CEOs get paid the big bucks for at the end of the day right? THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMPANY.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (3, Interesting)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555528)

You do not have/need a joe fatpockets, what you need is a willingness to have agents whose accounts you do not review..., and that is much harder to prosecute, and moreover many american would not like to loose the salary that the cash obtained this way brings in..

so of course it is "nice" to have the fantasy of punishing the bad CEO's, but changing the way you consume is a more efficient step..

Seize profits and related assets (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555472)

I know what you mean, but what else can you do other than levy a fine?

1) Seize ALL resulting profit AND
2) Seize ALL assets used in commiting the crime (Why should they be treated any better than drug dealers?) AND
3) Levy a fine on top of that AND
4) Investigate individuals for criminal prosecution with a view to banning them from being in similar positions in the future

In other words make it truly not worth anyone's time if they get caught.

If $10 is nothing to IBM, lets see if they're hurt by $200M

Re:Seize profits and related assets (2, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555808)

You're familiar with the expression, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you"? It applies here too. Most of us here on Slashdot have jobs and can feed our families because international business exists and chooses to operate here in the United States. We cannot afford to be unfriendly to businesses that we desperately need to stay here and create jobs. So they bribed some Korean officials? Who gives a flying f**ck, that's how they do business outside the United States. If that helps to keep my job here in the United States then frankly, I couldn't care less what goes on in Korea. Like many government agencies set up to protect the "little guy", the SEC has done more to prevent the best investment opportunities from reaching the middle class over the last seventy seven odd years than just about anyone else. The rich are able to make real investments while the rest of us are basically stuck handing our profits over to mutual fund managers in our 401k's because that is what keeps us "safe" from having losses (and gains) and safe from ever having a real retirement. The only real hope for the little guy is to somehow amass enough wealth to become a High Net Worth Individual [wikipedia.org] at which point the real investment opportunities become available.

Re:Seize profits and related assets (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555890)

      There is a fine line between bribery and being extorted.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555842)

I know what you mean, but what else can you do other than levy a fine?

Set the fines as a % of annual revenue, or some other legally required, stockmarket linked reporting number.
Company A found guilty, earnt a million dollars, fined 85%. $850000 fine.
Company I(B)M, earnt a hojillion dollars - 85% of a hojillion is a lot.

The trick is using the same number that they use to justify their senior exec bonuses.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555330)

If China wants to have a system of bribes necessary to get anything done, let them do so. I don't want the SEC to import that culture over here!

What, are you fucking ignorant?

Haven't you seen how Congress is controlled yet? Via campaign contributions. And you don't think that it's filtered down to the state and local level?

My town only lets tow truck company with town specific permits pick up cars within limits, they even apply this to the highway which technically is federal and should be illegal, and they only let one company have the permits even though there are many others in the area.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (4, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555294)

No, they're hypocritical. US Govt uses bribery and extortion all the time.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (2)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555400)

Are they made to pay any to S. Korean authority?

Re:Bribery fines are funny (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555718)

Does SEC, or anyone in the U.S. for that matter, have jurisdiction over supposedly illegal acts outside of the country? Is it even SEC's business that officials abroad were bribed? Shouldn't the Chinese slap them with, say, imprisonment of responsible persons?

Re:Bribery fines are funny (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555824)

Does SEC, or anyone in the U.S. for that matter, have jurisdiction over supposedly illegal acts outside of the country?

Apparently, if the companies or subsidiaries responsible are owned by a US corporation, yes.

Shouldn't the Chinese slap them with, say, imprisonment of responsible persons?

Chinese do what they like in China, but imprisoning foreigners, especially executives, looks bad and is bad for business. It's hard to convince foreigners to invest in your country if you lock them when the set foot on your soil after all.

Re:Bribery fines are funny (1)

RewriteQuran (1943392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555754)

And they're paying tax payers/share holders money.

They just got caught is all. (5, Insightful)

pro151 (2021702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555030)

They all do it, IBM just got caught. :-)>

Re:They just got caught is all. (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555120)

I generally refer to them as BribeBM.

Re:They just got caught is all. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555402)

I generally refer to them as BribeBM.

That actually sounds more like a laxitive. "Try new BribeMB with prescrption-strength analphlox!"

Re:They just got caught is all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555210)

IBM shill detected.

Re:They just got caught is all. (1)

pro151 (2021702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555476)

IBM shill detected.

Who me? Boy you missed the mark with that witty remark there Skippy. I could give a shit if IBM tanked tomorrow. :-)

Not to get too political... (2, Interesting)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555032)

But Republicans want to get rid of this law that makes it illegal for our businesses to bribe foreign officials.

We should get rid of that law. (3, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555068)

Why shouldn't corporations be able to do publicly what they do privately?

Re:We should get rid of that law. (2)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555080)

Because of Johnny Mnemonic.

Re:We should get rid of that law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555428)

Well, shit, given the whole double irish bidness, we need to tax these guys somehow. Otherwise we'd have to print money to pay for the military, and that would inflate away mah nest egg!

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555084)

Just out of curiosity, do you consider that a good thing or a bad thing? I could see arguments either way.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555094)

I see the US as a country of ideals, or at least it was founded that way, and bribery is wrong even if it is with foreign officials.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555190)

Do you feel that way just because you are anti-republican, or would you have felt the same if some democrats were trying to oppose the law?

Re:Not to get too political... (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555244)

I can't answer for the poster, but I can say YES. I am against what the republicans put forth most of the time because they are bad ideas or puppet proposals for their corporate buddies. The democrats do the exact same thing and when they do I'm opposed to it (**AA anyone?). Allowing open bribery is a bad thing... it isn't doing business and it's just another way for these large concentrations of power to step on other smaller businesses.

Re:Not to get too political... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555880)

>>Allowing open bribery is a bad thing... it isn't doing business and it's just another way for these large concentrations of power to step on other smaller businesses.

Don't worry, small businesses do it too, in China.

The hongbao has a long and honored tradition there.

Typically, companies take a hands-off approach by hiring the son of a prominent party member (with lots of guanxi - connections) to "smooth out the permitting process". IBM (or whoever) pays the 20-something a million dollars, and then, magically, all the permits are taken care of for their new plant.

But the same process takes place for smaller businesses. The fees/bribes are correspondingly lower, of course. I've heard nightmare stories about companies trying to get permitted without any bribes paid. It's unclear, though, if it's illegal from IBM's point of view to hire someone to pad the appropriate pockets, as long as all they're paying them for is to make the permitting process go smoothly.

Posting as an AC because I'd like to go back to China some day.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555328)

No, I am against it because bribery is wrong. I have problems with Democrats and Republicans, the only difference is, there are fewer Republicans I can trust to take care of this country than Democrats. An example of a Republican I can semi-trust is Murkowski since here moderation in the last election.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555392)

At some point everyone accepts bellwethers. I don't have Republicans or Democrats to lean on, but there are many others.
If Reverend Phelps states something, I don't have to think much to disagree - history has shown we don't have much in common, and most of what he advocates, I disagree with.
Closer to home, the current PM of Canada has a handy habit of coming out on the wrong side of pretty much everything. It saves time, I don't have to read much to know what is right.

I don't think you can blame him if he comes down on the anti-Republican side - they have committed so many heinous crimes from treason to torture, that it is a safe bet to just oppose them. They tend to be wrong.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

jmd (14060) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555248)

US *was* a country of ideals might be a little more appropriate. Not too long ago when I was young.... we never .. ever...would have considered trading with a communist country. after all *we had principles*. now we just have capitalism running the show. it all comes out in the end.

Re:Not to get too political... (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555318)

Keep in mind that in some countries, bribery is standard practice and failing to bribe would make a business less competitive. If those countries wish to end the practice, they should make it illegal. Why should US law cover actions taken abroad? Why should the US be pushing our set of ethics on other people (yet again)?

Re:Not to get too political... (0)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555384)

We aren't enforcing our morals on other people, we are enforcing our morals on companies that are in our country. That is a big difference. I once heard on NPR describing the wine culture in China that for business meetings, a businessman is expected to supply multi thousand dollar bottles of wine for the meetings, I can see this being okay and should be the extent of the "bribery culture."

Re:Not to get too political... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555466)

Basic frikkin' ethics.

Make a law that you can't trade here if you're behaving like an evil shit elsewhere. Makes perfect sense to me.

It's not about making other countries do anything, it's about not supporting it yourself and having some basic integrity.

Anonymous because... yeah I work for big blue. Not for much longer.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555878)

We are not pushing our ethics, a number of other countries, representing 80% of the world's trade, see bribery as a problem as well. The US signed a treaty with 33 other countries of the OECD [oecd.org] and has "arrangements" with others covering bribery. Our statutes covering this are in International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998 [wikipedia.org] Fines of up to $100,000 and terms of up to 5 years are applicable to individuals found guilty of bribery of officials. If the company you work for does international business your sales department has probably been trained in the personal and corporate consequences of violations.

They generally finish with the corporation before they go after the individuals, hopefully we will be hearing about them in a few years.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555490)

I put it to you: when is bribery ever a good thing?

There is no such thing as a good bribe because the person who accepts the bribe always had the option of acting (or not acting) for free out of some sense of moral or ethical responsibility. (At which point it ceases to be a bribe.) A bribe offer says, "I know you're supposed to do X, but I want to secretly pay you to do Y instead." Bribery is by definition a form of corruption.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555642)

I put it to you: (just playing devil's advocate here) . . What if sometimes the bribe offer says "you know you are supposed to do X, and I know you are supposed to do X, but you are about to do Y because you are a greedy shit fuck. I want to secretly pay you, and make it worth your while, to do X instead."

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555778)

I put it to you: when is bribery ever a good thing?

When you're on the receiving end of the bribe. Duh.

Re:Not to get too political... (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555228)

Well... why not. The Supreme Court already made it legal to bribe officials domestically.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555516)

Well... why not. The Supreme Court already made it legal to bribe officials domestically.

I bet they got bribed to do it.

Re:Not to get too political... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555714)

Is it really bribing if they've bought into it?

Re:Not to get too political... (4, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555250)

Well, that does sound shitty, but bribery is pretty much how business is done in certain places. The US intelligence community took some slack a little while ago by providing information that Airbus was bribing officials to get contracts in foreign countries. The criticism was that this information would benefit US businesses who were, apparently, not bribing anyone. Go figure.

For every bribery deal that gets caught, there are probably ten or more times that number go right through. Having a law that prevents bribery sounds nice and all, but when no one else seems to care, you start to wonder if there's really a point to it. If bribery is simply the cost of doing business, then so be it. Is it our job to keep civil servants of foreign governments honest? Presumably it is not, since no one really likes having the US show up in their country with their occupations and such.

Corruption is a corrosive influence on any country, and a lot of them suffer from it. However, the changes that are needed to make that happen probably have to begin from within. I'm not against the law in this case, but I can see why some people in government look around at even our Western countries and wonder if everyone is on the same page.

Re:Not to get too political... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555266)

If the law means that 21 years of bribing 2 major countries political officials leads to a $10 million dollar fine, then the law is a joke anyway. After they pay the fine they are likely to throw a party and toast each other for getting such a good deal.

Willful and systemic disregard for the law by a business like this should lead to the business either being shut down by the feds, or fined so heavily that they have to file for bankruptcy. Who authorized the bribes? No jail time? Sad...

Re:Not to get too political... (2)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555310)

Since Obama has taken office, the US has collected over 1 billion dollars in fines for these violations.

Re:Not to get too political... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555894)

much as I hate to be 'that guy', but source? I'm genuinely interested, and wouldn't have the faintest idea where to find out that kind of information.

Re:Not to get too political... (2)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555348)

You have to understand that bribery is more or less the expected norm in Asian business. Japan was the first to get away from it but I suspect it still goes on in the form of "gifts" and favors. South Korea started to crack down on it after the Sampoong department store collapse [wikipedia.org] . Incredibly, despite causing over 500 deaths, that in itself probably wasn't enough to force the change in culture. It was one of a spate of building and bridge collapses within a span of a few years, whose cumulative effect was to finally turn public sentiment against the culture of bribery and corruption in business and government. The Chinese government is smart enough to recognize that it's a long-term millstone around the neck of their economic development, and has been cracking down on it. But I suspect at the local level it's still very much entrenched. Basically, if you couldn't/can't bribe, you can't do business, and you might as well pack up your bags and leave the country.

So it's not just a matter of right vs. wrong. There are different standards of normal behavior involved in the debate as well. The same goes true for corporate espionage. In the West it's frowned upon and any company who fired you for refusing to do it would be slapped by a wrongful termination lawsuit. In the East, it's pretty much expected. If you're asked to do it and refuse, you'll probably be fired.

Why is this illegal? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555050)

I thought bribing foreign officials was a good thing?

Re:Why is this illegal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555104)

I thought bribing foreign officials was a good thing?

Not for U.S. persons and companies. It's a violation of federal law:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Corrupt_Practices_Act [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why is this illegal? (5, Insightful)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555142)

What if we called it 'lobbying'?

Re:Why is this illegal? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555286)

That only works domestically.

Re:Why is this illegal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555372)

If the foreign officials know that US companies are allowed to bribe them, they'll demand it.

- after reviewing your proposal, we have discovered that this deal cannot be approved, it does not meet our standards for commerce
- huh, why didn't you mention this before? what standards doesn't it meet?
- multiple standards. Too many to discuss, the matter is seen to be hopeless.
- hmm.... suppose we gave you an extra discount?
- it would have to be in the form of American dollars up front, but not officially as part of the deal. $300K and I will see if we can obtain the necessary waivers.

Re:Why is this illegal? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555578)

I thought bribing foreign officials was a good thing?

Only if you think that paying off a blackmailer is a good thing. On short term, maybe. On longer term, you encourage a culture of corruption which will make your future dealing be increasingly based of paying bribes. And guess what... the bribes will always go up.

Fuck the World. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555052)

fuck you and fuck your mom.

Re:Fuck the World. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555782)

Good luck, motherfucker.

creators; stand by for another fake big flash (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555058)

again, it's not us. believe whatever you're told? It's ALL out of the
chosen ones manual/schedule/agenda/anal 'math' depopulation schemes etc..,
which is resulting in many of our innocents being vaporized, which is
'better' than many of the others' current 'fate'. for god's sakes?

best bets; everyone (on our planet) voluntarily disarm yourselves. carry
on as it was originally intended for all of us. we instinctively know what
that is.

highly wagered longshots; eugenatics, weapons peddlers, kings/minions,
genetically altered mutants/hired goons. media decepticons, adrians,
religiously infactdead groanups, fake weather/induced seismicity
'scientists' etc...

hold on to your equatorial equilibrium.

in the end...in the middle... & from the beginning, babys rule. XOXOXO

I have mod points (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555116)

So if anyone wants some +1 Insightfuls, well...let's see if we can work out an "agreement."

Re:I have mod points (1)

mywhitewolf (1923488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555376)

This isn't really bribery because I can't be expected to earn my own karma for my own slash dot moderation campaign. and it doesn't give me an unfair advantage because all other Slashdot moderators are entitled to take contributions from lobbyists too.

You idiots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555130)

Don't you know? DON'T GET CAUGHT! Didn't you learn how to cheat in school?

Super Troll Boy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555134)

Wikipedia is defeated, Linux is defeated, Slashdot is still gay with taco snotting every day. Lets all have a lemon party and wet icecream all round. Slashdot, because you are all forever alone nerds who get pleasure from kittens with word art instead of fixing bugs in your open sores crapware.

the US Gov is jealous (4, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555172)

a fine is just a bribe in reverse...

Maybe ... (4, Informative)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555184)

Just maybe, that's the normal way to do business with governments in those parts?

Just sayin', based on my experience living in Latin America. Most of the time government offices are so sluggish (sometimes deliberately so), that you HAVE to grease the wheels if you want things done before you lose serious revenue. Clearing customs, currency exchange (where the government controls it), assorted permits... most new providers are shocked to learn how much these things can take.

Re:Maybe ... (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555212)

That's what I thought of the first time I heard of this law. It seems somewhat odd that it can be a violation of US law to do something in another country.

Re:Maybe ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555598)

It's illegal to do in this country. Is there some reason a criminal act is ok if it's overseas??

The better answer is...no.

Re:Maybe ... (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555828)

Territorial jurisdiction matters. I can't be prosecuted in California courts for a crime committed in Maine. Likewise, things that I do outside the US shouldn't be under US law.

Don't want to be subject to laws? Stay out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555906)

Yeah, and if you stand at the five corners, you can shoot a man (or a boy!) while standing in one state, the bullet passed through one, hits them in a third, they die in the fourth, and their body lands in the fifth!

Totally unprosecutable!

Oh wait, no. It'd be dealt with rather effectively. The respective DA's may argue over it, but if nothing else, the federal government would take over.

In this case, if the company does business in the US, that's the action that subjects them to the jurisdiction of the US. Of course, if you don't want to do any business in the US, then you can make an argument that the US shouldn't care. Likely they won't, unless you start making more trouble that bothers the US, in which case it stops being a legal problem, and becomes a diplomatic problem for somebody else. Then it can become a legal problem for you. Go figure.

This argument also applies to citizens. Some of them will go overseas to do things they can't away with in the US. There are times it is probably understandable such as a medical procedure, but other times...yeah, sex trade is bad, mmkay? If we have to prosecute them in the US to stop it, then we should.

The only way your argument applies is if you let greed trump justice, and that's just not something I can support. You may argue that there's some problem with a given law. I would tell you to get the law changed. If you want, you can argue for breaking it in protest. there are lots of US laws which I'd support resisting.

But you won't be likely to make that kind of argument with regards to bribery. It's just bad policy.

That's exactly why not to. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555224)

Once corruption is legitimized, those conditions become the norm.

Look at all the countries with the lowest standard of living. You'll see that their governments are based upon bribes and favors.

The money is transfered from public works to private individuals and the entire country suffers.

Re:That's exactly why not to. (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555354)

The money is transfered from public works to private individuals and the entire country suffers.

Your observation about correlation seems accurate. But, even though bribes are factored in the quoted price, the amount of money pilfered is peanuts in comparison to the losses due to inefficiency, abandoned projects, deliverables that were left to rot/obsolescence, white elephants, etc.

That's why they call it "corruption" - it rots the system from the inside.

Re:That's exactly why not to. (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555362)

But then again, corps are mostly known/accepted as be amoral little critters with a positive tropism for profit.

Re:That's exactly why not to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555374)

The money is transfered from public works to private individuals and the entire country suffers.

You mean money confiscated from productive members of society for distribution to the shiftless and lazy is returned to those who actually earned it, rather than waiting for the nanny state to give them goods for free, don't you, comrade ...

Re:That's exactly why not to. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555682)

The money is transfered from public works to private individuals and the entire country suffers.

You mean money confiscated from productive members of society for distribution to the shiftless and lazy is returned to those who actually earned it, rather than waiting for the nanny state to give them goods for free, don't you, comrade ...

How insightful you are today!!!

Everybody knows that the govt bureaucrat who won't do a thing for you (even if you are entitled to) unless you pay "his private tax" is working very hard to earn his money, takes enormous risks just to keep the society going towards the greater good. Such individuals are actually the spine of the society, without them everybody will just lazily bake themselves in the sun, paid from the dole.

Re:That's exactly why not to. (3, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555576)

Once corruption is legitimized, those conditions become the norm.

You're somehow inferring that bribery by foreign corporations is what's causing the corruption and leading to it becoming the norm. That's (usually) not true. In most of these countries, bribery and graft were already the norm before the foreign business even got there. In that situation, a country has two ideological choices:

A) Isoluation and refusal to do business. You basically tell the country to screw off and prohibit any of your corporations from doing any business in that country. That you won't do business with it until it cleans up its act first. Then you sit and wait, and hope the people of the country will on their own spontaneously revolt, clean up government and business, and establish a system more compatible with your moral ideology. This is the approach the U.S. is taking with Cuba.

B) Acceptance of the different standards. You recognize that things are done differently there than here, and continue to conduct business playing by their rules. You do this with the long-term hope that the extra economic velocity generated by your business will lead to a thriving middle class, which will gain enough economic and socio-political clout that they're able to bend their own government into cleaning up its act. A peasant state where 95% of the wealth is controlled by 1% of the population doesn't need to listen to what 99% of its population says. But a middle class of 50% of the population controling 40% of the wealth is a force to be reckoned with. This is the approach the U.S. is taking with China.

I won't argue which method is better. I'm not even sure myself. I will say this though: Uncompromising ideology makes a good goal towards which you want to steer society. But it frequently makes for a lousy method with which to steer society. If you say corruption is bad so you should never do anything which encourage it, you just end up going out of business and your opinion doesn't matter anymore. It's better to compromise, allow a little corruption, gain more power and influence, then use that power to try to steer things for the better.

Yeah ... (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555688)

First off, I'm not inferring anything.

I'm straight out SAYING that when you legitimize corruption then ALL interactions with the government or other businesses in that country exhibit the characteristics that arialCo identified.

But a middle class of 50% of the population controling 40% of the wealth is a force to be reckoned with.

And totally irrelevant because, as mentioned before, the countries with the most corruption have the lowest standards of living.

There won't be a middle class there because the corruption prevents it from forming. It prevents the middle class from forming by transferring the money from projects that would facilitate the middle class forming into the pockets of those who already have the money and power.

Re:Maybe ... (3, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555432)

Just maybe, that's the normal way to do business with governments in those parts?

Just sayin', based on my experience living in Latin America. Most of the time government offices are so sluggish (sometimes deliberately so), that you HAVE to grease the wheels if you want things done before you lose serious revenue. Clearing customs, currency exchange (where the government controls it), assorted permits... most new providers are shocked to learn how much these things can take.

Yep. And more often than not, a "bribe" is really an extortion payment, especially if you're an American.

It's not that foreign officials are anti-American, they just know who can afford to pay.

Next it will be the Chinese that get forced to pay these "bribes".

Re:Maybe ... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555620)

Just sayin', based on my experience living in Latin America.

And do you like it?
Assuming you would be willing to bribe someone to get something done, would you be happy of somebody from a foreign country just overbidding your bribe by a higher one? (even if, say, what the foreign party will sell to you and your family is 2-3 times as expensive?)

Re:Maybe ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555820)

An American friend of mine wanted to cut and set diamonds using Chinese. Given that his labor costs were 1/10th of what they would be in the USA, his rent was 1/8th, and his utilities were about 1/8th as well, he couldn't help but make money even when his insurance rates doubled to take into account offshoring about US$1 million in rough stones. It was great until his local rep asked for some money to go party with a Chinese official. When my friend refused, his business stopped getting electricity. When he started using a generator to get around that, they cut off his water. When he had a well drilled and installed the required purification system, he found no one still willing to deliver him fuel. He was kind of surprised the official didn't just tell the workers to just stop showing up "or else." He finally relented and asked what the party was going to cost him at that point. He repatriated the stones and now has a shop set up near Houston, because it was cheaper.

Question (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555192)

Payments from IBM subsidiaries to South Korean officials in the form of gifts, travel and entertainment

Isn't this how business is handled in the private sector?

Re:Question (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555484)

I think the answer there is "not any more".

it used to be, in the time before people became interested in competition law, ethics in business and not supporting corrupt governments overseas.

But now we apparently care about all those things. IMHO that is a very good thing.

Re:Question (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555698)

Isn't this how business is handled in the private sector?

Not where I work. Anyone who accepts a gift from a vendor or customer, and fails to report it promptly, is risking getting fired.

Our CFO noticed our shipping costs had gone up, so did an investigation. She found out that more packages were shipping DHL (high rates, crappy service), because the DHL sales rep was buying pizza for the warehouse staff several times a month. The warehouse manager lost his job, and we no longer use DHL at all.

Proportions? (4, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555206)

Woah, a 10M dollar fine...

Lets see what Wikipedia says about IBM..

Net income US$14.833 billion (2010)

Yeah, that 10M fine will sure show them!

If they really wanted a punishment, they should give IBM's board community service or something. That'd be an interesting way of doing things. Not denying the CEO's paperboy a large tip this week.

Re:Proportions? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555254)

but but but but but the CEO knew NOTHING about what was going on!

He EARNS that multi-million dollar salary, but he knows NOTHING about what is going on!

Re:Proportions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555336)

What about SOX: the big wigs are criminally responsible for not knowing what is going on ?

Re:Proportions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555734)

i don't think any company on earth looks at a ten M I L L I O N dolar fine lightly, regardless if you make 14 bill a year thats still a big fine

Linux users sucking Windows cock (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555236)

Another sip of Wine, and my DirectX gets further up your ass.

Bribes Employee Bonuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555260)

Well, that explains where my performance bonus went.

Uh Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555290)

3 billion in Cash.

10 billion in Cocaine.

1 Trillion in Sex Slaves Trafficing.

IBM does't know when or how to quit.

A durnkard meandering down main-street America on any night.

--308

this just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555324)

IBM increases the prices of what it sells to the gov't

Normal Business in China (0)

PureRain (231574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555332)

Don't know about Korea but from what I've heard from Chinese friends, bribery is a regular part of business in China. This will just put IBM at a disadvantage.

Interesting how the US govt doesn't get charged at home for torturing people at prisons it operates in foreign nations, in the same light that IBM is charged here for its conduct offshore.

Anyway I support disciplining businesses who conduct themselves inappropriately, at home or abroad.

hahahaha! Sic 'em SEC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555590)

10 million. That's about what IBM refunds to its employees every year because of that fucked up pop machine in the cafeteria.

Hey, nice work, ya bunch of pussies...

Wait, wait .... (2, Insightful)

future assassin (639396) | more than 3 years ago | (#35555622)

Bringing down Wall St and getting rewarded with a bail out is ok but bribing foreigners with a few thousands here and there is full on illegal? Only in Bizzaro land called the US of A.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555646)

Only hundreds of thousads of dollars? they're practically saints!

I love it "entertainment" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555650)

No one get's laid for free, IBM mainframes are needed in return, LOL!

It's in the employee guide. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555752)

Back in the day international firms had sections in their handbooks on how to handle "bribes" when working abroad.

Survey (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555756)

Hi, we are from Smith College and would like to invite you to participate in a survey about attitudes and sexual orientation. For participating in this survey, you can enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. If you are interested in taking the survey, please follow this link for further instructions. Thank you!

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Well obviously, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35555780)

you'd have to pay people to buy the steaming pile of shit that is Lotus Notes.

Lotus Notes - our motto is: "that will be fixed in the next release"

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