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2008年8月 5日 (火)


(Aug. 5, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Bribing foreign officials tarnishes national image

ODA贈賄 不正招く「商習慣」への警鐘だ(85日付・読売社説)

It is unforgivable for companies to simply accept the notion that providing kickbacks in developing countries is just another "business practice."


The first arrest in a bribery case in connection with Japan's official development assistance projects should be a strong signal to Japanese companies to change their way of looking at things.


Pacific Consultants International's accounting irregularities relating to Japanese projects to dispose of chemical weapons abandoned by the Imperial Japanese Army in China during World War II are now developing into an alleged violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law that prohibits bribing foreign government employees.


According to investigations by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, a former president of PCI and others are suspected of handing over 90 million yen in 2003 and 2006, at the request of the head of the office in charge of a construction project to build an east-to-west trunk road in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.


This was the second arrest linked to bribery of foreign government officials after the Fukuoka Local Public Prosecutors Office filed a summary indictment last year against two former executives of electrical and engineering company Kyudenko Co.'s local subsidiary in the Philippines who had provided sets of golf clubs to two high-ranking officials at the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation.


Japan is Vietnam's largest donor country, providing about 100 billion yen in ODA last fiscal year.



Taking from taxpayers


Tokyo-based PCI was previously found to have accounting irregularities of about 140 million yen that stemmed from padding expense claims for ODA projects in 16 countries, including Vietnam and Costa Rica, submitted to the Japan International Cooperation Agency. In Costa Rica, it was learned that PCI bribed influential local people.


stemmed from padding expense=水増し請求により生じる

Monday's arrest may illuminate only some of the bribes paid by PCI in developing countries. We hope prosecutors will uncover the full scope of what PCI has done in winning bids.


In 1998, member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Japan, as well as some nonmember countries concluded a convention to prevent the bribing of government officials. Along with that, Japan prepared the necessary domestic legislation by revising the Unfair Competition Prevention Law.


In spite of that, bribery is rarely detected because it is difficult to gather the necessary information as well as to get cooperation from the foreign countries involved.



Case not pursued

In 2002, Mitsui & Co., a major trading company, was suspected of bribing a high-ranking Mongolian government official by providing 1.3 million yen in cash in connection with an ODA project in that nation. At the time, prosecutors considered filing charges against the trading company under the Unfair Competition Prevention Law, but in the end decided not to proceed with the case.


In contrast, bribery charges have been laid in about 100 cases in the United States since the OECD convention was enacted. Japan's accomplishments in this area have been outshone by a considerable degree, so much so that the OECD repeatedly recommended improvements were needed. It has also sought to have Japan take a more active approach to filing charges.



It is almost impossible to eradicate corporate misconduct when government officials solicit bribes as in the PCI case, unless the recipient of the bribe is strictly punished in their own country.


eradicate=全滅させる、根絶する solicit=求める、嘆願する、歓迎する

Meanwhile, companies should be aware that complying with such demands will lead the international community to lose trust in Japan.



The government now is going to focus on ODA projects in Africa. To make good use of ODA as a valuable diplomatic tool, disciplined corporate behavior and strict oversight by the Foreign Ministry are indispensable.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 5, 2008)

2008850212  読売新聞)


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