Conflict of interest? Tories are planning to legalise bribery and corruption

[Image: Daily Telegraph.]

[Image: Daily Telegraph.]

The Conservative Government is considering whether the public is stupid enough to accept the legalisation of bribery and corruption. And why not – some of us were stupid enough to vote David Cameron back into office, after all.

The pretext is a claim that UK businesses are finding it hard to do business overseas, so apparently it’s Johnny Foreigner’s fault for wanting backhanders before letting our goods into his country.

The government is now consulting on whether facilitation payments – money or goods paid to foreign government officials to perform or speed up their duties – should be re-legalised.

They were banned in the Coalition Government’s Bribery Act of 2011, in which the Conservative Party played a large part – meaning this will be a policy U-turn by the Tories.

Critics have pointed out that the proposed change would undermine the law in other countries along with the UK, as well as global efforts to counter corruption.

And anti-corruption campaigner Transparency International said corporate lobbying appeared to be the basis for the review, rather than evidence. It said 89 per cent of companies surveyed in the Government’s own research (released earlier this month) reported that the Act had no impact on their ability to export.

It seems the pressure to reverse the law is coming from a minority of businesses – who, let’s not forget, are still allowed to lobby the government despite the Transparency of Lobbying Act, which we know was passed to make it harder for those with more legitimate issues to raise them.

So we’re looking at a situation in which businesses want the ability to bribe governments – and our own government is considering allowing it.

Conflict of interest?

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  1. M de Mowbray July 30, 2015 at 10:54 am - Reply

    No conflict at all for the Tories! It’s part of their Meisterplan for New Feudalism.

  2. John Gaines July 30, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Well, Labour was warned that the people did not want the Milipeed and Fatso Balls-up, why pay for a toothless Hound when a Rottweiler is biting you in the Ass.

  3. hstorm July 30, 2015 at 11:21 am - Reply

    It fits in with everything the Tories do when it comes to regulation of business though, doesn’t it? Employees’ rights, environmental rules, anti-monopolies practises, they are all whittled away under precisely the same pretext – “too much red tape” – completely ignoring that there are good reasons why that ‘red tape’ is there. Sure, it makes it easier to do business, but that argument could be raised to allow almost anything to happen, say, legalising slave trafficking.

  4. NMac July 30, 2015 at 11:32 am - Reply

    I have felt that since 2010, when they first got their hands on power, the Tories have made no secret of their corruption.

    • marjorie July 30, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply


      • Mike Sivier July 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm - Reply

        Agreed – but please don’t type in capitals. It’s the equivalent of shouting and very difficult for some people to read.

  5. jeffrey davies July 30, 2015 at 11:42 am - Reply

    hum isnt our corrupt government doing this already taking backhanders and giving contracts to companies they being paid by crooks get locked up fraudsters it seems stay in power

  6. Nigel Harman July 30, 2015 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    I wonder just how low this conserative government will go whats their next master plan.I shudder to think.

  7. David Woods July 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    But we already do this!
    Isn’t that the whole point of Lobbyists! They take payment (in goods or kind) to facilitate contracts and law changes to their ’employers’ favour – not their voters!
    And all the party’s leaders accept this as the ‘way to do business’!
    Self interest before Country’s interest!

  8. Thomas July 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Just the sort of thing to be expected from this government.

  9. hayfords July 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    The headine ‘Tories are planning to legalise bribery and corruption’ is a bit strong.

    They are reviewing the legislation.

    There are countries where it is impossible to do business without something to ease things along. Sometimes it may be a commission to a middleman acting as an agent. Of course everyone involved knows it is a bribe. That situation is legal as it is wrapped up in a different manner. I wanted to do business once in Milan and the customer was a major bank. I was told that I would have to speak to a third party to facilitate the deal and it was presented as an agent relationship. I chose not to do business partly because it was obvious what organisation the third party belonged to. This sort of thing is very common. I would suggest that hardly any multinational business is done without payments even though it is illegal at present.

    • Mike Sivier July 31, 2015 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Yes, there are countries where it is impossible to do business without greasing the wheels – and the Tories want the UK to be one of them.
      Look at your own experience – you chose not to do business because of the way it was being handled. Do you want that manner of business to happen here?
      Look at the comments of the critics, who said changing the legislation would harm the battle against corruption on the international stage.
      From what you say, you are on their side. Supporting the Tories is not in your interest.

    • jbw31 July 31, 2015 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      I would just make it illegal to deal with any country that doesn’t have laws against such practices. They would soon change their minds when they weren’t getting the goods they wanted especially if a lot of other countries got together and did the same. ie the EU.

      • hayfords July 31, 2015 at 3:17 pm - Reply

        That is unrealistic. There are plenty of sources for goods that these countries want. Bribery is endemic in the majority of countries in the world. It is only the small number of countries in the western developed world that can maintain and enforce laws against corruption. Anti-corruption is a long term goal but practically impossible.

        • Mike Sivier July 31, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply

          Certainly – especially if the western developed countries don’t attack corruption wherever they find it or, as in this case, backtrack away from measures to prevent corruption. This is a retrograde step that should not be taken.

  10. John Ingleson July 30, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    It’s a ‘get-out-of-jail-free-card’ for BAE and the Saudi scandal that’s about to break. ‘So transparent. The brass neck of it! They got no shame …and they figure the sheeple don’t care either, which they don’t, zzzzz…

  11. Frann Leach July 30, 2015 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Bribe them, sue them. They’ll be spoilt for choice…

  12. sally July 31, 2015 at 12:08 am - Reply

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments so far.
    Regards the blog, Mike, honestly, nothing surprises me anymore.

    Not even the fact that Dave is just today giving Najib Razak a tongue lashing about the importance of a free press, an open economy and society, the need for ethics in business, and the vital importance of fighting against corruption.

  13. wildthing666 July 31, 2015 at 9:37 am - Reply

    This will just open the door to backhanders been paid to UK business, this is the real reason so UK business can open a business overseas, have the work done somewhere no backhanders are paid then claim they had to pay a backhander to speed up the process.

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