Letter from the Editor, July 2014

In tNick Burkillhe second of our two-part series on giving gifts in China, Carl Hinze looks at the rules and traditions surrounding the cultivation of bao (“social reciprocity”), through gift giving. This month, we look closely at the gift-giving rules that apply to PRC Government officials.  With penalties for officials as severe as death by firing squad, businesses need to ensure gifts given to give “face,” i.e., to show respect, to the recipient and increase the “face,” i.e., raise the status, of the giver are well within the bounds of what is legally acceptable and can be proved to be so.

This is our last newsletter until September. I would like to wish all our members and readers a very happy summer.

We are always interested in articles and book reviews written by AFN members and readers. If you would like to contribute to the AFN newsletter or the website in September, please contact us at info@antifraudnetwork.com.

Nick Burkill

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One person’s gift, another person’s bribe: The challenge of giving gifts in China, Part II

Carl Hinze 2014

In the second of our two-part series on giving gifts in China, we look at the rules and traditions surrounding the cultivation of bao (“social reciprocity”), through gift giving. This month, we look closely at the gift-giving rules that apply to PRC Government officials.  With penalties for officials as severe as death by firing squad, businesses need to ensure gifts given to give “face,” i.e., to show respect, to the recipient and increase the “face,” i.e., raise the status, of the giver are well within the bounds of what is legally acceptable and can be proved to be so.  

Bribery of officials

In respect of bribery of officials, Articles 389 to 391 and Article 393 of the PRC Criminal Law prohibit (regardless of whether the perpetrator is an individual or entity) giving state officials, state agencies, state-owned enterprises and civil organisations bribes in order to receive improper benefits. In order to constitute the offence of “giving bribes” the following criteria must be met:

  • There must be a payment in the form of property or unlawful kickbacks or procedural fees
  • The recipient must be a state official, state agency, state-owned enterprise, unit (an organisation) or civil organisation
  • The purpose must have been to receive improper benefits (emphasis added).

According to a Notice issued by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in 2008, “property” in this context is defined as

Either money or physical objects, and includes proprietary interests that can be measured in monetary terms, such as the provision of housing renovations, membership cards and gift cards (coupons) carrying monetary value, travel expenses, etc.

The Notice also seeks to fill a gap in the Criminal Law by clarifying the meaning of “seeking improper benefits” in the context of the crime of bribery contemplated in Article 389 of the Criminal Law. According to the Notice, seeking improper benefits refers, rather vaguely, to circumstances where the giver of a bribe seeks a benefit that is in violation of laws, regulations, rules or policies, or where the giver of the bribe requests the receiver of the briber to provide help or convenience in violation of laws, regulations, policies or industry norms.
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Letter from the Editor, June 2014

Nick BurkillIn the first of a two-part series on giving gifts in China, Carl Hinze looks at the and rules and traditions surrounding the cultivation of  bao (“social reciprocity”) through gift-giving, and the practice of gift-giving between businesses.  With Chinese President Xi Jinping  making it a priority to clamp down on corruption in China, it is important to understand how your company can help prevent genuine gifts being misconstrued as bribes.

As ever, we are always interested in articles and book reviews written by AFN members and readers. If you would like to contribute to the AFN newsletter or the website, please contact us at info@antifraudnetwork.com.

Nick Burkill

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One person’s gift, another person’s bribe: The challenge of giving gifts in China, Part 1

Happy New Year!

Carl Hinze

Carl Hinze

It was the week before Chinese New Year. The financial year had ended weeks earlier and unpaid invoices had made a dent in the annual performance of the small family business.

For months, the foreign husband, a co-owner of the business, tried to reason with the clients, appealing to their better nature, reminding them of their earlier praise for the work done. When his appeals met with silence, he upped the ante. He sent stern emails, stating that he would get lawyers involved if the bills remained unpaid. When these emails went unanswered, his wife finally ran out of patience with her husband’s tactics and told him it was time to try the Chinese way; she knew better than him that a China problem required a China solution.

She purchased a batch of tablet devices, carefully wrapped them in red paper and delivered them to the children of the chairmen of the clients who had failed to pay.  Within a couple of days, last year’s unpaid bills had been paid and the husband and wife could truly celebrate the new year. There was no need for thank you notes or cards, no need for lawyer’s letters or telephone demands, no need to instruct debt collectors. No mention of the gifts was made by either side and it was not long before several of those clients were seeking support from the business on new projects.

Through this experience, the foreign husband learned what the “Chinese way” really means. This is not to say that Chinese clients have a monopoly on failing to pay professional fees, unfortunately, this can happen anywhere. The situation faced by this family business is, however, a reminder of how situational ethics affect the way things are done in China. “Situational ethics” has been described as a flexible standard of thought and behaviour that is based on the circumstances at hand, real or imagined, instead of being based on universal principles.

Situational ethics vs logical ethics

The husband, who was raised and educated within a Western logic and ethics context, found it difficult to understand that his wife’s way was the best means to a positive end. The wife, who was raised and educated with a strong understanding of traditional Chinese situational ethics, realised that she had a lot of leeway in what to regard as an acceptable or unacceptable solution to their problem.

As experts have explained, the Chinese preference for, and use of, situational ethics is a product of China’s past, when individuals did not have absolute rights that were protected either by law or even by custom (see the February issue of the AFN newsletter). Throughout Chinese history, individuals were subject to the arbitrary rule of their superiors, who included family members and government officials at all levels.

For the husband, logical argument and a satisfied customer should have translated into payment of the agreed professional fees. And if logic and reason could not prevail, surely the law would step in to solve the matter. But at what cost?

Considering “face” and cultivating social reciprocity

The wife knew that she needed to cultivate bao (“social reciprocity”) because, even if the law did provide a framework for business transactions, relationships of all kinds in China–business, personal, political–must be based on trade-offs of one kind or another. What if the husband did manage to obtain payment of the fees through sending out a lawyer’s letter or using the services of a debt collector? The relationship with the client would be harmed, perhaps irreparably. The wife knew it was far more effective to use the situation to further develop the relationship.

This is not an isolated event. Western business people’s perspectives of gift-giving are substantially determined by Western laws and corporate rules. Chinese views, however, are determined primarily by a complex and sophisticated social philosophy of relationships. Gift-giving is related to respect, mianzi (“face”), group membership, reciprocity, status and long-term relationships. The art of gift-giving is just one of the innumerable proprietary rules of interpersonal behaviour, the origins of which go back thousands of years and are central to Chinese culture.
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Letter from the Editor, May 2014

Nick BurkillIn this issue, Stuart Vines from Taylor Root looks at the explosion in recruitment of compliance professionals in recent years and gives practical advice on how to get the best candidates through your door.

We are pleased to offer members a 10% discount on the IIR’s summer 2014 anti-fraud courses. These will be held on 18 and 19 June at the Hatton Hotel in London. Fundamentals of Detecting and Preventing Fraud takes place on 18 June and Advanced Techniques to Detect, Prevent and Investigate Fraud on 19 June. Click here to register with the 10% discount.

As ever, we are always interested in articles and book reviews written by AFN members and readers. If you would like to contribute to the AFN newsletter or the website, please contact us at info@antifraudnetwork.com.

Nick Burkill

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Finding the right compliance professionals for your business

The financial service compliance market has been expanding rapidly since the downturn in the financial services market in 2008 and the time Lehman Brothers went into receivership.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates the sector, has been imposing more and more regulations on business that fall under their rules.  The FCA’s intention is to reduce the risk of the UK going into another recession, and to make sure financial services firms take more responsibility for their trading activities and really understand their clients.  The FCA particularly wants firms to ensure they know where their clients’ money has come from to ensure it isn’t being laundered through financial services firms.


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Letter from the Editor, April 2014

Nick Burkill

Welcome to the April issue of the AFN newsletter.

In this issue, we are pleased to include an extract from Fraud: The Counter Fraud Practitioner’s Handbook, published by AFN partner Gower Publishing. We hope the extract will spark a debate as to whether the predictions of the 2009 Ernst & Young survey have come true. Please join the debate on our Linkedin page.

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Extract taken from Fraud: The Counter Fraud Practitioner’s Handbook, edited by Alan Doig

Fraud-TheCounterFraudPractitionersHandbook

Future Trends in Fraud

A pan-European study of 2,246 employees by Ernst & Young (2009) found that 55 per cent of respondents expected corporate fraud to increase over the next few years: a third because changes to their business opened up new areas of risk; 31 per cent because management were not focused on anti-fraud measures; 29 per cent because they didn’t trust management and an equal number because pressures to protect the future of the company will be greater. East Europeans were particularly sceptical about their own management.
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Letter from the Editor, March 2014

Nick BurkillWelcome to the March issue of the AFN newsletter.

In this issue Sophie Keen from, CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service, explains why you should vet employees with the same vigour that you would apply to vetting customers or suppliers.

As ever, we are always interested in articles and book reviews written by AFN members and readers. If you would like to contribute to the AFN newsletter or the website, please contact us at info@antifraudnetwork.com.

Nick Burkill

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Fraud: not just an external threat

SophieKeenOrganisations have typically been aware of the fraud risks that come from the outside, such as fraudulent applications, documents or identity crime. The same cannot always be said for the risks faced from within. And yet, fundamentally, the risks are the same.

Organisations will check numerous sources of information, e.g., credit checks, voters’ roll and fraud prevention services such as the CIFAS National Fraud Database, when dealing with a customer application to verify information before any decision is made. The checks for potential employees should, therefore, be no different. Organisations need to guard against not only the risk of employing someone who could cause serious financial or reputational damage, but also against those people committing the same acts at another, unsuspecting organisation after they have moved on.
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