Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Hand That Bribes

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Hand That Bribes

Article excerpt

When two people fight, goes a bit of old Japanese wisdom, they are both at fault.

The same can be said of bribery: He who greases the palm is as guilty as the palm.

Yet businesspeople in rich nations continue to complain they are "forced" to bribe government officials in poorer nations if they want to win a contract, make a trade, or deal with customs.

But lately, official graft has begun to be seen clearly around the world as a two-way street, one worthy of closing in a global economy where corruption can quickly set back a nation, as it has Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and much of Africa.

This year, the 29-member rich-nations club known as the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development put into effect a convention that requires members to make bribery of foreign officials a criminal offense. Bribes can no longer be tax deductible, as a few nations allow.

And yesterday, an international anticorruption group called Transparency International (TI) added a key indicator alongside its yearly ranking of the worst bribe-taking nations: The Berlin-based watchdog now also ranks nations by their bribe-giving. …

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