Letter from the Editor, July 2015
Aside from the high profile investigations and charges against multinational companies that have dominated the news, has China’s anti-corruption campaign had any real impact on commercial bribery? If so, what?
The Anti-Fraud Network commissioned Dorsey & Whitney China and Blackpeak to examine recent corruption cases and conduct confidential conversations with their clients and contacts to provide a snapshot of the current situation in relation to corruption in China, and valuable insight into what areas of business are vulnerable now. Together, Nick Burkill, Frank Hong and I provide guidance on the practical, proactive and preventive steps that can be taken to prevent corruption and protect businesses.
Frank Hong spoke on BBC World News’ Asia Business Report on 28 June about our findings.
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It is impossible to ignore the anti-corruption campaign launched by China’s president, Xi Jinping. Aside from the high profile investigations and charges against multinational companies that have dominated the news, has the campaign had any real impact on doing business in China? If so, what?
Without doubt, China’s anti-corruption campaign is significantly impacting state officials and the senior leadership of state-owned corporations. The arrest of ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang and the one-day trial of former China National Petrolefum chief Jiang Jiemin who admitted guilt are just two high-profile recent cases. The net has also stretched beyond China’s border, with Xu Jinhui, head of the anti-graft bureau, giving the US government a priority list of corrupt officials allegedly hiding in the United States.
The biggest change seen by one security manager at a foreign manufacturer in light of the campaign and in line with these cases, is a dramatic change in the way multinational corporate employees interact with employees at state-owned enterprise. No one wants to interact or meet with them anymore – everyone is afraid that they could become ensnared in the net of the crackdown.
But what has been the impact on business-to-business relationships? Are kickbacks still being paid between businesses? From vendors to suppliers? Is the scrutiny being faced by officials also being felt within the private sector?
In a series of private conversations held by Dorsey & Whitney China and Blackpeak with the security managers of multinational companies, we identified the real effects of Xi Jinping’s campaign on businesses operating in China.
Commercial corruption hasn’t gone away. It’s simply evolving
Our interviews with security managers who are regularly assigned by multinational companies to investigate allegations received by their staff of kickback payments revealed that little has really changed. The security managers we spoke to consistently held the view that commercial corruption was still occurring at levels consistent with their experience during previous administrations but, as one investigator in the pharmaceutical industry put it, the methodology has changed.
In the past, employees would skim expense accounts in order to get cash for bribery payments. The hope was that delivering big sales contracts would increase their chances of bonuses and promotions. These days they are still skimming, but they are keeping the cash for themselves. Continue reading
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Corporate INTL, 2013
Nicholas Burkill of Dorsey & Whitney is an expert in bribery and corruption matters, and is widely considered by sources to be an authority on the implications of the new Bribery Act. Sources describe Burkill as “extremely personable, very bright, client-focused and always looking for the best commercial solutions.”
The Dorsey team is an excellent choice for tax and fraud disputes, and group head Nicholas Burkill is ‘an enormously experienced fraud litigator, with great depth of knowledge; intelligent and hardworking, with an excellent sense of humour. One of the best around’.
Legal 500 2010
Dorsey & Whitney’s practice head Nicholas Burkill is a ‘cool-headed and determined litigator’.
Legal 500 2011