A Washington Post article of 3/20/11 carries an article relating that the SEC is accusing IBM of foreign bribery. I can recall the era of the 50's-60's when IBM was thought to be the darling of the corporate world and incorruptible.
Gisting the article, IBM is being accused of bribing South Korean gov't officials with cash and laptop computers. Cash was distributed via a shopping bag in a Japanese Restaurant and through a bank account of a 'hostess in a drink shop'. Bribes surfaced totaled some $207k. In exchange IBM received Korean contracts worth millions.
Likewise, IBM was charged with maintaining slush funds to provide gifts and overseas trips to Chinese gov't officials. Involved are two key managers and more than 100 IBM-China employees.
The company agreed to a settlement of $10M while neither admitting nor denying wrongdoing.
In recent years the SEC has brought foreign bribery charges against US companies such as Tyson Foods, Halliburton, ABB and Daimler. The article alludes that these cases, when combined, suggest bribery represents the status quo in corporate world.
The SEC alleged that IBM recorded improper payments as legitimate business expenses and, in at least 114 instances, IBM employees worked with a local travel service in creating fake invoices. Chinese gov't officials who took the trips received gifts and per diem payments.
IBM's actions are more understandable when cognizant of the globalized economy where bribery is acceptable, more or less, in about ¾'s of the globalised world. I refer to it as the ' wild west of free trade'. Merge them up like beefy wrestlers and let them fight it out.
China and S. Korea officials are surely aware of the SEC charges. NTR there. Somehow, I think China and perhaps S. Korea will be the ultimate winners in 'Free Trade'. .Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve