Corruption vs. Our Tasks

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Corruption vs. Our Tasks

When I was asked to look at corruption and Executive Protectors (EPs), I was thinking about the EP being corrupt and selling information (and, yes, this does happen).  But what hit me was the US and UK anti corruption laws and the spill over effect on good EPs doing the work they need to do – yet facing the possibility of running afoul of anti corruption laws.

Many of the places where we work are nasty little corrupt places…  places like China, India, Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Detroit, Liverpool,  – etc., etc., etc.

We are often asked to pay special fees for a limousine or “special taxes” to work in an area whereby such payments can only be paid in cash at night outside of some dodgy restaurant or other establishment.  Yeah – of course they are expediting fees -aka bribes – to insure that our charge is safe or can leave whenever they wish.

For those purists out there with an incredulous look of shock on their faces we can only reply: Come on – we have all done that at one point or another.

As an example, we ruefully recall only to well the story of one of our EP’s who had to pay the guards and fuel delivery truck driver special fees so he could get his charge’s jet fueled and readied to leave on a Sunday evening in Hungary.

We have all paid a few extra dollars in advance to get a better seat in a restaurant, or at the theatre.  Your charge wants a nice seat at La Scala — and you pay both a ticket scalper and tip the director of security to do your very best…  well… maybe not a tip to the security director – but certainly a nice dinner on the EP.

As I have now read both acts cover-to-cover, as well as numerous news stories including those about J.P. Morgan’s hiring the friends and children of wealthy Chinese, is considered to be a violation of the act(s)… I am more or less sure we are all guilty for doing our job in this fashion.

Can you imagine looking at your charge and saying – “Sir, we are prohibited from paying off (tipping) the security guard and fuel delivery man – sorry you and the jet need to stay until Monday and wait for their regular business hours.” Or “I am sorry, sir, about your children been kidnapped – we are prevented from tipping of municipals workers for information on the local gang leaders or even the local gang leaders to leave your child alone.  However, we can deliver the ransom as that does not appear to be prohibited by the law.”

While we do not support or endorse bribery and corruption as a way of doing business, this does appear to be a slippery slope. I think we are seeing the unintended consequences of a good idea (combatting of corruption both in the business and political arenas), but that is in some manner, poorly executed.

This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Baron James Shortt, the Executive Director of the IBA.

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