FORGET THE HEAVY suitcases filled with cash, delivered by burly unsmiling men in dark glasses. As the world changes and progress marches on, dictators, bureaucrats, and the people who would bribe them are also adapting to the times.
In her latest post in her investigative journalism blog Watchdog Watcher, former Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism Executive Director Sheila Coronel talks about a new book that exposes the many new ways that money changes hands to grease the wheels of government.
Coronel, now the Director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University in New York, introduces us to the book How to Pay a Bribe, ostensibly an “anti-corruption experts guide… through the dark world of international bribery schemes,” says the blurb from Amazon.com.
“This volume offers recommendations for the best practices companies can incorporate to avoid corruption as they interact with governments, intermediaries, and each other in international markets,” says Amazon in its description of the book written by Alexandra Addison Wrage.
Coronel says the book “provides tips on how to avoid being prosecuted for corruption.”
“It’s worthwhile reading for journalists if only because it documents the various forms of state-of-the-art bribery,” she says in her blog. “If there’s food porn, this is corruption porn.”
Coronel digests for us some of the ways bribery is now done according to the book.
Some juicy examples:
- Give lucrative contracts to officials or their relatives. This never fails, and is a practice that has taken root in the Philippines as well. Why offer a direct bribe when you can make the official richer in a less obvious way.
- Donate to those “foundations” that some politicians like setting up. Again, one of the favorites. In this country where foundations and charities abound because of grinding poverty, there is no shortage of foundations set up by politicians. The family of one of the country’s former chief executives comes to mind.
- Buy one of their assets-at an inflated price, of course. At least there was a sale to justify the transfer of funds. However, a closer scrutiny of the amounts involved usually show that the deal was lopsided.
Coronel says the book is a compilation of articles written by different people, including journalists and lawyers. Read Coronel’s blog here.