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IBM Charged With Bribing Korean, Chinese Officials 263

Posted by timothy
from the conditions-on-the-ground-called-for-it dept.
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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IBM Charged With Bribing Korean, Chinese Officials

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  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:18PM (#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?"

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:25PM (#35555076) Journal
      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!
      • by tnk1 (899206) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:40PM (#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.

        • by mirix (1649853)

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

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          ...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.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @09:27PM (#35555436) Homepage Journal

          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.

        • by Fluffeh (1273756)

          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 me

          • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @09:44PM (#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..

        • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CodeBuster (516420)
            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 U
            • If that helps to keep my job here in the United States then frankly, I couldn't care less what goes on in Korea.

              It is highly unlikely that IBM's goal was or is to keep your - or any other American's - job here in the United States. You cost too much - given currency exchange rates.

            • If it benefits you, let the corruption continue? I can see why many people would want to do that, but it doesn't sound all that appealing to people who aren't in that sort of situation...

            • by syousef (465911) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:58AM (#35556460) Journal

              So they bribed some Korean officials? Who gives a flying f**ck, that's how they do business outside the United States.

              So they bribed some US officials to let migrant workers do the job at half the price and fired all their staff? So what!? It's an at will state. Those greedy rich Americans can apply at subsistance wages like I did.

              See, it cuts both ways. You allow bribery to thrive to suit a corporation, and they'll turn on you. If you allow bribery justice is never carried out and people suffer - anything from death and injury to virtual slavery. I'm alright screw everyone else is a destructive unenlightened attitude.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

                  There is a fine line between bribery and being extorted.

        • 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.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          if these charges were pressed in China, there'd be more than just fines... people would die.

      • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @09:10PM (#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.

        • by suso (153703) *

          I'd say its not nearly as bad as in other countries. Generally people are against bribery in the U.S. In other countries, its a way of life.

      • by Swampash (1131503)

        I don't want the SEC to import that culture over here!

        Taken a look at Congress any time in the past twenty years? Waaaaay too late.

        • It's not anywhere near the same. At least in America we don't have to pay a bribe to the police when we get pulled over, like they do in many countries.
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @09:05PM (#35555294)

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

    • by oldhack (1037484)
      Are they made to pay any to S. Korean authority?
    • by tibit (1762298) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @10:12PM (#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?

      • 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.

        • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @10:54PM (#35555924)

          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.

          One of the things China likes is bribes. Bribes aren't a way to get ahead in business over there, they are the way to do business. Maybe it's changing, maybe its not -- depending on who you ask -- but I'd guess that Intel not only bribed officials a ton, but they were probably expected to bribe a ton, and it probably wasn't looked down upon as long as the culturally-proper chain of bribes was maintained.

          I'm not sure about South Korea nowadays, but they also certainly have a history of bribery as a way to do business, and I bet that it was were pretty damn common in the early 90's.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
            Wrong, wrong, wrong. Where do you get your news about China, the New York Times? China doesn't "like" bribes more than anywhere else. You can get things done by the rule of law.

            "One of the things I have always found troubling about Westerners doing business in emerging market countries is that they sometimes take an almost perverse pride in discussing payoffs to government officials. It is as though their having paid a bribe is a symbol of their international sophistication and insider knowledge. Yet,

    • by Nyder (754090)

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

      Ya, reminds me when I was in High School and I got kicked out for 3 days for missing too many days and being late.

      I was like, cool. Didn't come back to school for 2 weeks, though I did keep up with my work.

      So, no, this shit doesn't surprise me in the least bit.

    • It would be newsworthy if IBM managed to do business in China without bribery. Cash is the lubricant that greases the wheels of business in Brazil, Russia, India and China. And I put it like that because these nations are referred to as "BRIC", though there are many other minor markets where approvals to do anything cannot be had without some lube in the form of a grocery bag full of soft folding cash. There's a reason why the US airlifted many pallets of hundred dollar bills into Iraq, Afganistan, and o
  • by pro151 (2021702) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:18PM (#35555030)
    They all do it, IBM just got caught. :-)>
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      I generally refer to them as BribeBM.
      • I generally refer to them as BribeBM.

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

        • by sjames (1099)

          If that could actually work, we'd have bribed the hard-core fecal matter out of Congress long ago.

  • by Barrinmw (1791848) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:18PM (#35555032)
    But Republicans want to get rid of this law that makes it illegal for our businesses to bribe foreign officials.
    • by elucido (870205) * on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:24PM (#35555068)

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

    • Just out of curiosity, do you consider that a good thing or a bad thing? I could see arguments either way.
      • by Barrinmw (1791848)
        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.
        • 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?
          • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:56PM (#35555244) Homepage Journal

            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.

          • by Barrinmw (1791848)
            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.
          • by mevets (322601)

            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

            • 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.

              Politicians tend to be wrong; by this statement you merely show your bias, probably the bias of your news sources as well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Haw?

          Why is it then that U.S. tax dollars are going to buying homosexual child sex slaves for Afghan warlords [pbs.org] in exchange for getting local police to do their jobs?

          • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

            Why include homosexual in that? How is it at all relevant? I'm pretty sure "child sex slaves" should stands on it's own as utterly despicable without having to resort to homophobia as well.

        • 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)?
          • by 517714 (762276)

            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 depa

      • by Eil (82413)

        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.

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

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

        • Eh, there are lots of cases, for example, I know someone who bribed her daughter if she would not get pregnant in high school. Turned out to be a motivating factor in her not getting pregnant, and her life was measurably better as a result.

          Bribery is not a good thing, but in some countries, there is no other way to get things done other than bribery. Then for the bribe giver it is not a question of good or bad, but rather whether you want to get anything done or not. Your court requests could be stuck in
      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:02AM (#35556480)

        Bribes are an artificial barrier to entry into a market. As a result, they are by definition a drag on the efficiency of a market. Furthermore, because of how bribes work, barriers to entry can be made arbitrarily high, resulting in the richest players in a market being able to extract monopoly rents without having to compete for customers.

        You want me to go over basic free market theory again? I can't believe there's even a question why bribes are a bad idea. Next, someone will ask whether ice is cold, and whether water should be wet.

        • It's not about whether bribes are good or bad. That's not a question. The question is whether it's good or bad for congress to try to stop American companies from making bribes in foreign countries; in countries where the only way to do anything is with bribes. If IBM complied with this (I fully expect they will continue to bribe), they would not be able to do business in many countries. Essentially we would be ceding the entire market to Europe or other countries, and would do nothing to change the culture
    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:52PM (#35555228) Homepage Journal

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

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

        I bet they got bribed to do it.

    • by tnk1 (899206) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:57PM (#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.

    • 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...
    • by Solandri (704621)
      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
    • by couchslug (175151)

      International business is war. Why should our side have rules when the enemy doesn't?

      • by Barrinmw (1791848)
        ...and why should we have the Geneva conventions when the other side doesn't. The US should strap bombs to children and send them to the enemy.
  • I thought bribing foreign officials was a good thing?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:32PM (#35555116)
    So if anyone wants some +1 Insightfuls, well...let's see if we can work out an "agreement."
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:42PM (#35555172)
    a fine is just a bribe in reverse...
  • Maybe ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by arielCo (995647) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:44PM (#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.

    • 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.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:51PM (#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.

      • by arielCo (995647)

        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.

      • by arielCo (995647)
        But then again, corps are mostly known/accepted as be amoral little critters with a positive tropism for profit.
      • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @09:51PM (#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.

        • by khasim (1285)

          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 corr

          • 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.

            Not every country is Zimbabwe. Every developing and developed Asian nation is an example of a country that started so filthy with corruption you'd want to wash your hands after dealing with them, and each country, on its own pace of development and reform, has been building middle classes and cleaning things up over time.

            Japan is an example where corruption is down to first-world levels and the middle class is gigantic.

            South Korea and Taiwan are examples of countries where there are still struggles between

          • by Solandri (704621)

            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.

            You've never actually managed a large group of people or a company with a large corruption problem, have you? Fighting corruption is not as simple as waving a magic wand and declaring that nobody is allowed to do anything evil again. Often times, the only people skilled enough to continue running a company or a govern

      • by pclminion (145572)

        Once corruption is legitimized, those conditions become the norm.

        Those conditions have always been the norm. What you see in the world is not a descent into corruption, but an attempt to ascend out of it. Not everyone is caught up yet. Unless you're willing to say that you'll do no business with 90% of the world, this is how it goes.

        I have to sign off on company policies on an annual basis. One of the policies I sign off on is a "no bribery" policy, but it has a fairly fat exception for nations where bri

      • Unfortunately, you have to pay one way or the others. Look at some of the cleanest governments in the world -- Singapore and Hong Kong; public servants are given free condos for life; a nice condo there easily worth a million USD or more, thanks to the governments' monopolistic control of land. In the US, we pay government officials with handsome pension benefits; we also make most of that legal by calling the acts "political donation". Money buys cleanness, regardless of political system; at the end, publi

      • by crossmr (957846)

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

        And that happens in a lot of countries where the standard of living is supposedly higher.

    • Re:Maybe ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mc6809e (214243) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @09:27PM (#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".

      • by Nyder (754090)

        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".

        Bribes are "taxes". That's the whole problem here. If they, from the get go, kept saying they were paying local 'taxes', no one would bat an eyelash.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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?)

  • 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?

    • by Nursie (632944)

      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.

    • 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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @08:49PM (#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.

    • 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!

  • Wait, wait .... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by future assassin (639396) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @09:58PM (#35555622) Homepage

    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.

    • A) IBM didn't bring down Wall Street, so there's little reason to compare them against one another, since they are very different situations.
      B) I think we can agree that both are wrong. This doesn't have to be a one or the other thing, though clearly some people got away with crimes, while others didn't get away with theirs.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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