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2014年5月 3日 (土)

ODAリベート 国際的な信用を損ねる行為だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 6:47 pm, May 02, 2014
Japan firm’s illicit kickback payments harm nation’s international reputation
ODAリベート 国際的な信用を損ねる行為だ

A kickback scandal has been brought to light involving a Japanese company participating in the nation’s official development assistance projects in Asian countries.

ODA, which is designed to help boost the economies of developing countries through the distribution of taxpayers’ money, is a key international contribution effort that Japan has been involved with for decades. Irregularities in ODA projects serve only to exacerbate corruption in recipient countries, and are bound to undermine international trust in Japan.

The Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the governmental body responsible for the integrated administration of ODA projects, must be thorough in preventing irregularities from occurring again.

The company that offered questionable kickbacks is Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc., a consulting firm mainly engaged in railway construction projects.

According to investigations by a JTC-commissioned third-party committee, the company paid kickbacks worth a total of ¥160 million to civil servants in Indonesia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan in connection with ODA-funded projects from 2009 to earlier this year.

The kickbacks are believed to have been paid in return for such things as contracts to design railway systems that the ODA recipient governments awarded to JTC. The kickbacks are suspected to have violated the Unfair Competition Prevention Law, which prohibits companies from offering bribes to foreign government officials. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad that has just embarked on a probe of the case should make every effort to uncover the whole truth of the kickback scandal.

Officials of JTC have been quoted as saying they were under extremely strong pressure from government officials in the recipient countries to pay kickbacks. In reply to queries by the third-party committee, JTC employees involved reportedly said they were afraid of failing to win contracts if they turned down the kickback demands.

U.S., Europe stringent

Payment of unlawful cash behind the scenes in connection with ODA-funded projects is rampant in many countries. JTC may have seen the clandestine kickbacks as a necessary evil.

Providing cash to foreign government officials with the authority to issue orders for ODA-related projects is obviously illegal. It is quite natural that the third-party committee has pointed out JTC “is not a victim, subject to demands for bribes, but an accomplice in wrongdoing that promotes corruption in these countries.”

A case was revealed in 2008 in which a Japanese company gave bribes to a Vietnamese senior government official. The incident prompted Japan’s Foreign Ministry to set up sections in 2009 at diplomatic establishments abroad and elsewhere that were exclusively tasked with providing relevant information and accepting inquiries concerning pecuniary wrongdoing.

The president of JTC, however, was reportedly unaware that such sections even existed. It is highly regrettable that the lessons from past incidents failed to be used effectively. The ministry must redouble its efforts to ensure that the information and inquiry sections effectively prevent irregularities.

The export of infrastructure to developing countries has been defined as a major pillar of the growth strategy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. It is indispensable for the Foreign Ministry to scrutinize the situation in recipient countries from the planning and design stages of ODA-funded projects, and check carefully for problems with the projects’ implementation.

Investigative authorities in the United States and European countries have taken stringent stands toward offering bribes to foreign civil servants. Some Japanese companies have been fined huge amounts over bribes abroad.

Companies illegally providing funds to foreign government officials will find the practice carries a higher price than they know. Japanese firms operating overseas must take this to heart anew.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 2, 2014)


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