What’s the best bribe you’ve ever been offered? Can you beat this….

Twitter is great for directing you to interesting material you might not normally have seen. Here's an example - a procurement related scandal in Singapore, where two senior executives are in trouble. And in the background, a mysterious, beautiful woman, with whom these guys are alleged to have had "relations”, as we might say. She was a senior sales person for IT companies who are alleged to have benefited from contracts placed by these smitten gentlemens’ organisations.

Here is the asiaone website:

The suspensions of the chiefs of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) resulted from a probe involving the supply of IT-related products and services. While no money is thought to have changed hands, the close relationship between a certain female IT executive and the two senior officers was a cause for concern, and a complaint was lodged with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). According to The New Paper, the female IT executive developed a close working relationship with both former CNB director Ng Boon Gay, 45, and former SCDF commissioner Peter Lim Sin Pang, 51.

Later on we find out this:

According to a Straits Times report, she is said to have started work at an American multinational software company about six months ago.  Prior to this, she was a sales director at a Japanese multinational company and the probe is related to her time at this Japanese firm.

Wonder which US software firm we’re talking about here? The reports also speculates on the women: there is some doubt around her age, and whether she has children, but all are agreed that she is “attractive”. Well, you know, we might just have guessed that. She’s not going to look like Winston Churchill, is she?

Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, the only UK case a little like this that I know of involved a male sales person and female clients. And I can honestly say that in my many years in operational procurement roles, I was never offered anything as remotely exciting as this as a bribe or inducement! I think a helicopter to the British Grand Prix with top price tickets was about the most extravagant, turned down of course on grounds of both propriety and my intense dislike of Formula 1....

That would be a great question to ask our readers - what is the strangest or most exciting inducement you've ever been offered by a supplier? But I don’t suppose it's the sort of thing many of us want to talk about really!

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Voices (12)

  1. Billy:

    Nothing quite on the scale as the original article Peter, but in the past I have been offered “tickets and transport to any Euro 96 football game of my choice” (I work in Scotland) and also an “all expenses paid trip” to the British open golf championship being held locally.

    Neither was accepted of course, but whilst politely declining the offer of the golf trip, I had a number of (non procurement) colleagues fighting amongst themselves to “step in and take my place”!

    On a similar vein – I was interviewing a potential candidate (who was from a private sector background) for a job in the public sector – we asked a questions along the lines of “you are in the process of tendering for x and a potential supplier offers you corporate hospitality – what would you do?”

    Expecting the obvious answer, we were a little taken aback when the person finally responded with “I’m not sure, I’d have to run it past my boss…but as long as it wasn’t above a couple of hundred pounds, I’d accept it”.

  2. eSourcingSensei:

    Some years ago (around 1990/91) the Manager of the factory I was working at, in the stores area, asked me to look into our Fork Lift Truck agreements and see if we could do something better (I was not in Procurement we didnt have a team there and the phrase “Procurement” probably didn’t exist in our minds)

    Anyway I discussed with our incumbent and two or three other providers our future requirements and investigated costs.

    Two providers who I had NOT contacted had heard what I was doing, and contacted me, thought it would be great if I joined them, at their expense – (by the way these were independant calls from two independant companies both offering the same thing) – in Duesseldorf for the Materials & Warehouse Handling Exhibition, at their expense, and I was invited to remain there for the weekend (at their expense) and all entertainment would be provided with an outline of the type of entertainment that may be available to me – see Peters original article and the suggestions around the young lady – you’ll get the picture.

    We were a small factory in the countryside that had two fork lift trucks, one stand on truck and 6 hand held pallet trucks – thats just to put into perspective what I was looking for, and all of this was on a lease basis not an outright purchase. For the companies involved in the phone calls I would be amazed if it would have registered as any fraction of a percentage point in their turnover, these were big providers.

    To be clear I refused both, and reported both to the factory manager at the time and during his and my time at that site we never used their services.

    More recently, I rarely partake of a meal with any supplier, but occaisonaly I am given a pen or a small diary however that is fairly rare these days.

    I could tell you of an embarrising time I accepted a Mont Blanc pen set not having a clue what it was and thinking “oh, thats a nice pen and pencil” as it was given to me with a Christmas Card…….they just looked like a set out of a well known retailer so I didnt think anything of them…………however another day and another time maybe.

  3. life:

    If you’re offered something like this do you still have to observe an alcatel?

    Could someone advise quickly please?

  4. Plan Bee:

    My word, all so clean……..66% of the tickets to the Olympic 100m final are going to corporates so by my estimate thats at least 20,000 potential bribes out there. Maybe they just dont go to Procurement people

    I do know of (non Procurement) IT staff who were taken for a week to the Australian Olympics, from the US.

  5. Dan:

    I’ve never been offered a bribe.

    That is a depressing indictment of my career, that no-one thinks I’m important enough to try and bribe. Even a mars bar and some Woolworths vouchers would do…

    1. Rob:

      I think you’re important Dan!
      (Though you did pay me to say this.)

  6. Rob:

    Here are two examples. Neither of which is about swapping contracts for sex, I’m afraid.

    One year, a large document services company sponsored a Formula 1 car, and the rep offered a corporate ticket to the Grand Prix at Silverstone. I declined citing that it was ridiculously expensive and it was something that, as a simple measure, I couldn’t reciprocate (like a lunch, for example – I would buy suppliers lunch, and in return, I would obtain useful ‘intelligence’, and a clean conscience…). They rang back one month later and said “how about the Hungarian Grand Prix?”.

    I politely asked if they’d lost their marbles, but then thought “what is it like in other banks?” and so enquired about the policies in other banks.

    The same supplier told me how, every year, two guys from a procurement team within another bank would insist on being faxed over the supplier’s annual corporate hospitality plan, from which they would proactively make their ‘selections’. It mattered not a jot that they would be out to tender on that specific category because, and I quote “they would keep a level playing field by asking for the hospitality plans from all suppliers”. True story.

    Also true, was the story of how a notorious US-based IT Buyer in a big American Investment bank (now closed…) cut a large global deal for IT servers, and the sales director suggested taking out the buying team to celebrate. The buyer said “no, we don’t want to celebrate with you, but you can pay for it. So give me your credit card”. And the sales director (with glee) promptly handed it over. And off went the entire buying team to a steak restaurant in NY, drank it dry, and put a dent in his card it to the tune of circa $35,000. The buyer also enjoyed his all-expenses-paid trips to Vegas where he would extol the virtues of that particular manufacturer’s products.

  7. bitter and twisted:

    Theres nothing wrong with taking bribes.

    Its acting on them thats immoral


  8. Steve:

    On the whole, I would say it is getting better – but bribery is still there. One global/US IT services company was particularly notorious for it: they once started the negotiations simply by pushing the cliched brown paper bag across the table. I never opened it, never even looked inside…. should have at least looked, would be nice to know how highly they valued the contract. Or maybe it just had the guys packed lunch in it?

    Does a trip to a karaoke bar count as bribery?

  9. Epoch:

    Once got offered he chance to see England at Twickenham. I might have been tempted had it not been the wrong code!!

  10. Brettsinclair:

    Nothing more than a diary I’m afraid, but would be open to suggestions for two tickets to the League Cup Final on Sunday!

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