Fraud and Bribery

My last week’s post was about corruption. I talked about Transparency International and posted an interview with Jack Abramoff, talking about his participation in the field of corruption in the United States. The entire topic is still stuck in my head and therefore I decided to write a second blogpost about corruption. This time about corruption in Germany.

We always hear these stories about corruption in developing countries, making real socio- economic progress difficult. Maybe some of us have even witnessed some sort of corruption themselves while traveling.
In my case I was confronted with corruption during a stay in Nicaragua. I was driving with my friend in his car, not paying attention to the speed limit. The police stopped us and asked us if I knew what we had done. My friend told the police that he knew that he probably had not spend close attention to the speed limit. We got a fine. But, and this is the important part, we did not have to pay the official fine set by government authorities. We paid a much higher fine directly to the police officer. He threatened us and said that if we didn’t pay, we could spend the rest of the week in a Nicaraguan prison. Definitely not the nicest place to spend some time! Therefore we paid.
I only spent a certain period of time in Nicaragua, in Germany I have lived almost my entire life but never really got exposed to fraud or bribery.

I started to look out for it.
I read articles and blogs about this topic. One recent blog post talks about the famous German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch. This company is suspected of paying bribes to a political party in Germany  in order to win contracts shipping their products to Mexico. In January of 2011 Germany stopped exporting arms to Mexico due to the ongoing conflict regarding drug and human trafficking.

As Christian Humborg states, there is a lot more corruption in Germany than one might think. Two major aspects are increasingly threatening German anti- corruption behavior: Under German law it is legal for companies to sponsor political parties and the second aspect is that Germany has not yet ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, meaning that Germany is not obliged to put in place specific safeguards to prevent fraud or bribery.
Other sources explain how other firms have been entangled in bribery scandals and how the implementation of laws can help lead a way out.
To look a couple of years back, we find other scandals, regarding German companies such as Siemens and Volkswagen. In 2006 Siemens was accused of paying millions of euros to secure relations and contracts with foreign companies.

Concluding this blog post, I want to recommend this documentary about corruption in Germany. Unfortunately, it is in German only but highly recommendable .
I would like you to give your comments on this blog post and especially express your opinion about what are the differences between corruption and bribery in Germany, ranked on the top end of TI’s index and developing countries like Afghanistan or Somalia, placing last. Is corruption in Germany less harmful than in other places?

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2 Comments

  1. Hey Martin! Great post and very good topic!. When I read the word “corruption” countries of Latin America, Africa and maybe Asia came into my mind. To be honest I have never thought that in Germany there could be something like corruption with all the laws and regulation we have. However I have always been very critical when I heard that politicians sit in the board of directors of company and get a “salary” from the company. It is for sure that those politicians will advance the company’s views and interests politically. Although corruption is not as common in Germany as in other countries, it does not make corruption in Germany less harmful. The cases which happened here shouldn’t be extenuated and in my opinion politicians should not sit in a company’s board of directors and rather comply with their political duties and responsibilities.

    Reply
  2. Martin!
    Really good blogpost! I liked your beginning when you talked about your personal experience abroad, it made me think whether I experienced sth like this myself and I clearly did.
    Two examples: A friend of mine took the abitur exam with me and achieved a quite decent score, but not too good though. Anyways, she applied for a ‘duales Studium’ at VW. Due to her connections, they asked her to get an average of at least 2.5 which she did not eventually. She was quite upset and everything when someone gave her a call and said ‘things were sorted out’ and she got the place even though she did not fulfill the requirements.
    Another example was at a the North-German Championship of Hip Hop Dance where my formation participated. The organiser was a danceschool which usually always got one of the best places and already in the beginning a lot of rumours circulated stating that there is corruption going on with the judges. Eventually they got the first place again.
    In my eyes especially in Germany there’s a lotof corruption going on but in a different way and only to a certain extend. Of course its not comparable to other countries but still competition is high and sometimes only being good at things does not help..

    Reply

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