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A good summary of Britain’s bribery mess

The Economist, as they often do, has a good short summary of where we are on BAE Systems and the Serious Fraud Office right now.

Articles on corruption and bribery can often be confusing for the reader due to the complexity of the cases, so this is worth reading. The original article is here.

I love this quote from the Economist piece:

“BAE has maintained throughout that it made no irregular payments there or anywhere else, though it admitted last year that it had not always been ethically fastidious. It has, the company says, left itself open to accusations of “poor record-keeping”.”

Surely if you admit poor record keeping, as is the case here, in corporate-speak, how would you know exactly what’s been done in your name?

Answer: you wouldn’t.

I understand that  it’s hard for companies to comment whilst investigations are ongoing, given that comments can be used against them. But being a bit clearer is surely a better idea.

It reminds me of when companies admit no liability on an issue, then pay out millions to bring matter to an end.

One of the many contraditions of modern capitalism I suppose.

Here’s a recent piece we did on the company and the corporate responsibility function.

I’d be interested in reader comments.

5/10/09 UPDATE: The Sunday papers in the UK are claiming the case will be settled soon, with the main point of debate being how much is paid. The Sunday Times reckons BAE wants to pay £20 million, (and fears shareholder lawsuits if it pays too much), whilst the SFO wants £200 million plus to save some face.

P.S. The bbc has a useful Q&A on arms deals, here. Worth a look. Nice and simple.

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