In my last blog I wrote about billionaire Bernie Ecclestone bribing his way out of a bribery sentence; I’m still shaking my head on that one. Sadly, he is not the only mega rich businessman behaving badly, showing a distinct lack of ethics and setting a very poor example for employees. While there is always going to be a risk that someone who works for you, or on your behalf, might engage in bribery, you can mitigate that risk with proper anti bribery training and awareness campaigns. Sadly, after writing about Mr. Ecclestone, I found more CEOs who seriously deserve to retake their anti bribery training, and maybe more.
On Tuesday, August 18th the CBI, a UK lobbying organization, arrested Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) CEO Rakesh Kumar as part of an alleged bribery case. The CEO offered the CBFC Rs 7,000 as bribe for clearing one of his regional films, ‘Mor Dauki Ke Bihav.’ He tried to speed up the process of clearing his film and he thought he could bribe CBFC officials with cash and jewelry. The CBI conducted searches at his house and Kumar was arrested days later. Click here to read more.
The former CEO of Chicago’s Redflex Traffic Systems, a company that specializes in photo enforcement and provides speed and red light traffic cameras, Karen Finley was indicted on August 13th for bribery charges. The indictment alleges that Redflex officials, including Finley, paid a city worker by the name of John Bills, $570,000 in cash and gave him a variety of perks including an Arizona condo and a Mercedes. In exchange Bills steered contracts towards Redflex, helping make Chicago the nation’s red light camera capital. Finley faces 12 fraud counts and four bribery counts. Click here to read more.
Jacqueline Middleton, CEO of anti-poverty agency CEOGC, was charged with accepting more than $24,000 in cash, home renovations and other things of value in exchange for steering work to specific contractors. Middleton faces two counts of honest services fraud, one count of bribery in federally funded programs and one count of Hobbs Act Conspiracy. She used her position as Chief Executive Officer to enrich herself by soliciting and accepting gifts, payments and other things of value from contractors who did business with CEOGC. Instead of assisting low income families, she only assisted herself. Click here to read more.
As I mentioned earlier, I covered the details of Formula One CEO, Bernie Ecclestone’s downfall after he paid a $44 million dollar bribe to the German banker who approved a $1.4 billion sale of the Formula One rights to CVC in 2005. Formula One is one of the highest classes of single-seat auto racing and consists of what is known as the F1 Series and the Formula One World Championship. Ecclestone was found guilty of bribery and sentenced to 10 years in jail. However Ecclestone bribed the court with a $100 million dollar settlement and got away scotch free. To find out my take on his get-out-of-jail-free card, you can view my blog, “Did Bernie Ecclestone Skip Anti Bribery Training?”
And last, but not least…
CalPERS is the agency in California that manages pension and health benefits for California public employees. Former CEO Federico Buenrostro pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and fraud. He admitted to receiving $200,000 in cash bribes from a fellow co-worker, Alfred Villalobos, as part of a plan to influence CalPERS investment decisions. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Click here to read more.
Time To Teach The CEOs Anti Bribery Training
I should have called this blog, “10 CEO’s Who Deserve A Lesson In Anti Bribery Training,” because as I was researching I came across a continuous stream of articles about the involvement of CEOs in bribery allegations. I could have named at least five more cases of CEOs who need anti bribery training. In the business world, it may be hard for employees to understand what exactly bribery is in certain situations when the line may seem fuzzy. Let’s say you are traveling to a foreign country and someone offers you a small gift as a welcome to the country or maybe they want to take you out to dinner. It might be rude to say no in their culture, but the fact of the matter is these gestures could be seen as a bribe under certain circumstances. This grey area is just one reason why it is critical to engage employees in anti bribery training and it needs to begin at the top. CEOs know how to run a profitable business, but they need business ethics training just like every other employee. Employees and CEOs alike need to be trained on what behavior constitutes bribery and how to report any suspected or witnessed behavior that violates the company’s anti bribery policy. Our Anti Bribery Checklist is a great resource and outlines a three-phased approach to implementing an effective anti bribery program using a Protect, Detect, Correct methodology. I’m talking to you, future CEOs: help your employees know the behavior by helping yourself first.