News headlines are littered with examples of bribery allegations, often involving major, high-profile companies with good reputations and what was thought to be strong corporate governance.
Some examples of companies accused of outbound bribery include Siemens (Germany), KBR/Halliburton (USA), BAE Systems (USA), Snamprogetti (Netherlands), Technip SA (France), JGC Corporation (Japan), Daimler AG (Germany), Alcatel-Lucent (France), Panalpina (Switzerland), Johnson & Johnson (USA), Innospec (UK), and Mabey & Johnson (UK). Given the amount of money involved in their operations, the military has also never been immune to bribery.
Bribery does not always occur at a corporate level, but it should be stressed that there can sometimes be little or no separation between corporate bribery and individual bribery.
Individuals within companies sometimes take advantage of their position, role, contacts, and lax controls to organize the receipt of payments—inbound bribery. There is a very long list of such examples, including Ikea (UK), Ikea (Russia), Sainsbury’s (UK), Network Rail (UK), and Judge Mark Ciavarella (U.S.).
The last two examples listed—Network Rail and Judge Mark Ciavarella— highlight the appalling realities of bribery. In the Network Rail case, the executive involved and his wife killed themselves in a suicide pact, leaving behind a daughter in her late teens. Former Judge Mark Ciavarella was convicted of taking a $1 million kickback from the builder of a juvenile jail in what became the notorious “cash for kids” scandal. The judge sent hundreds of children and teenagers to the private prison for minor crimes in return for payments. The suicide of one of the children triggered an investigation that exposed the bribery.