Posts Tagged ‘bribery’

I wrote earlier about corruption in procurement, and quite frankly this happens in just about any profession you can possibly imagine.  I really don’t get why people would find screwing up their entire careers such an easy decision.  Maybe everyone think they can outsmart others, and that no one would ever find out.  Come on, really?  Personal egos sometimes are just too compelling to overcome.

A whole team of Hong Kong based flight attendants were caught smuggling cigarettes through the Heathrow airport, without declaration of course.  Apparently it is not uncommon for flight attendants to pack a few cartons of cigarettes in their luggage and then release them to the dealers in Chinatown for a handsome profit.  We used to hear crew members buying Louis Vuitton bags in Paris for the Chinese and Japanese dealers at home, and it seems that there are now tighter restrictions on that.  Aside from obvious customs regulations, airlines have strict policies prohibiting their staff from taking airline properties from the plane and carrying illegal items on duty.  Yet, since crew bags are seldom checked at customs especially when they are in uniform, you won’t be surprised to find crew luggage filled with champagne and other spirits taken from the plane.

Again, the consequences of such actions could mean prosecution as well as termination of employment.  The team of flight attendants were detained by London authorities, and the airline offered little assistance in legal representation or logistics support.  All of them were fined and banned from ever entering United Kingdom again.  Needless to say, they were fired by the airline with immediate effect, and there should be little chance of any of them ever re-joining the inflight servicing industry, across the globe.

Is it worth it? I don’t need to interview the crew members to know the answer.  Are they evil people?  I don’t think so at all.  We are all normal people and we are all greedy in different ways.  However, we have to keep in mind that certain seemingly harmless decisions actually have detrimental effects on our lives.

But then we still hear about senior government officials scamming the authorities on housing allowances, education subsidies for their children, and tax evasions.  There must be a secret community out there for people to swap wicked ideas like that, in every workplace.  For those who have little willpower, choose your friends wisely!

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I’m Lovin’ It

Some of us may remember a former Managing Director of McDonald’s Hong Kong was jailed for 4 years and 5 months last year, who was tried for bribery charges 3 years ago.  The 47-year old MD accepted bribes for recommending and approving a Thai food company to become the corn supplier of McDonald’s.   The bribe is said to be 10% commission of total corn sales, amounting to around 330 thousand US dollars.   To cover up for the bribe, the MD advised the corn supplier to answer law enforcement officers that the money was used for a joint venture property investment in China.  The city’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, for all the right reasons and evidence, did not buy the cover up.  The MD was head of McDonald’s Philippines for 3 years before taking up the top post in Hong Kong in May 2004.  According to reports, he spent 10 years expanding McDonald’s business in mainland China.

I have no idea why senior executives would throw away their hard-earned career, naive enough to hope that their illegal acts would not be uncovered.   However I am now told that such dealings are not at all rare in the food industry.  I admit that all I am hearing are rumors with absolutely no proof whatsoever, but I am amazed as to how short-sighted these supposedly professionals are.  Is it all about the money?  Is it about the perceived power as well?  I guess it probably feels great to have potential suppliers begging for your business and even offering to provide certain concessions.  Earlier I wrote about what a fine line procurement professionals could walk while accepting gifts, and here I would like to share a question which a former boss of mine used to raise in an internal training session which I co-hosted.

For the immense support you generated to their business over the past years, your supplier delivered a gift to you during a year-end business function.  You opened it and it was an expensive Swiss branded watch – the kind that you would only reward yourself after getting a sizable bonus at work.  Since the value is way above the company’s gift policy guideline, you reported it to your boss, company management and compliance.  Now suppose that everyone has cleared you of any illicit under-the-table insinuations, your boss told you that the decision is up to you.   Nothing is illegal, and the company has endorsed it as a genuine personal gift.

Would you take the watch?


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