Bribery involving multinationals rising

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-05 07:37

Commercial bribery cases involving multinational companies are on the rise, but there are no effective laws to curb the trend, a report has warned.

More than 60 per cent of the 500,000 cases of commercial bribery investigated in the country in the past decade involved international trade and foreign businessmen, and the number is rising, reported the Democracy & Law Times newspaper yesterday.

A series of alleged bribery cases involving multi-national companies have shocked the country and sparked widespread concern.

IBM was widely reported to be connected with the recent fall of Zhang Enzhao, former president of the China Construction Bank.

Zhang was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month by Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court for accepting more than 4 million yuan (US$506,000) in bribes.

The company at one stage deposited a US$225,000 "service fee" into the account of Zou Jianhua, chairman of Hong Kong Hengchuang Technology, through whom the company got to meet Zhang under unusual circumstances, the report quoted the court verdict as saying.

The company declined to comment, saying it did not have access to the court documents.

Commercial bribery first hit the headlines when a Tianjin-based subsidiary of Diagnostic Products Co Ltd, one of the world's largest diagnostic products manufacturers, was fined US$ 4.8 million by the US Department of Justice for bribing doctors in China's public hospitals to buy its medical equipment and services in May last year.

The company was said to have bribed doctors with more than US$1.6 million from 1991 to 2002, when it was exposed by local media.

Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Co-operation, said the country's lack of a related law, something standard in developed countries, has added to the rampancy of commercial bribery.

The number of commercial corruption cases in China's courts rose steeply to 5,662 in the first nine months despite harsher penalties, according to a recent report by the Supreme People's Court.

Xiong Xuanguo, vice-president of the court, said courts at all levels dealt with 5,429 commercial bribery cases involving civil servants during the first three quarters, up 10.43 per cent year-on-year.

Wang Zhenchuan, deputy procurator-general with the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said prosecutors investigated more than 9,000 commercial corruption cases during the first nine months. The cases mainly occurred in the fields of construction, land acquisition, ownership transfers of State-owned enterprises, government procurement, medicine and medical appliances trade, banking and securities and futures.

He Yong, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Discipline Inspection Commission and head of a national anti-bribery leading group, last month vowed to tackle another batch of serious commercial bribery cases nationwide to stop the trend.

(China Daily 12/05/2006 page2)

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