As the global financial downturn continues and pressure for profits increases on corporations across the world, a small group of lawyers in the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing an aggressive crackdown against an international business tactic — bribery — which the World Bank says amounts to as much as a trillion dollars a year in payments.
Frontline, the well respected documentary program recently aired an excellent episode on the massive military weapons procurement scandal involving British Aerospace Engineering, the British government and Saudi Arabia. I had written about this unsavoury affair in 2006 when former Prime Minister Tony Blair undermined an investigation into alleged misconduct being carried out by the Serious Fraud Office. I said that the actions of the British government did a great disservice to people around the world fighting for good governance and accountability.
While there is yet any clear resolution of the matter I believe two elements were critical in exposing the excesses and abuses of power. A free media and the strength of civil society institutions, particularly the OECD which, given the error in judgment made by the British Government to suspend the inquiry, took it upon itself to further the investigation.
Read more about the case here…