In this article we are going to list the 15 biggest bribery cases in business history. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 biggest bribery cases in business history.
Bribery is part of human life, and it is a part of civilization. No matter where you live, you will see bribery happening, either on a small scale or on a large scale. For example, if you live in a developing country, you will see breaking laws such as traffic signals or not wearing seatbelts with impunity. They’re not afraid of their license being cancelled or being hauled off to jail, as the traffic cops who are stopping them are susceptible to small bribes of only a few dollars each, and the person breaking the law can get off scot-free. This may seem like a small thing but these people then don’t see any reason to follow laws and this can result in increased traffic accidents, which in turn can result in death. As you can see, small actions have large consequences. Large actions have even larger consequences.
Throughout history, large companies have always shown a disdain of the laws and regulations. You can find numerous examples about companies breaking laws, and profiting off these activities by billions or even tens of billions of dollars in some cases. After all, when GSK (NYSE:GSK) was fined $3 billion for misleading people and unlawfully promoting several drugs. And while you may think that $3 billion is a really major amount, the fact is that many people thought this was a very small fine since the company generated around $25 billion from the sale of these drugs. So basically, the net revenue that the company earned from breaking regulations was around $22 billion.
As I mentioned before, it has always been part and parcel of major corporations to flaunt rules and disregard authority, and bribery falls within this ambit as well. Even up to a few decades ago, laws weren’t even close to as stringent as they are today, and companies weren’t as closely monitored or regulated. In fact, back then, it was the norm to pay officials, especially foreign officials bribes in money and gifts to get them to expedite the process and reduce the expenses of the company. It was a worthwhile trade, though still completely illegal; the company got to save time and money and the officials pocketed the extra amount.
Over the past decade or so, laws have started to tighten, especially after the financial crisis which ruined lives, careers and the economy of the entire world. That financial institutions were able to manipulate the market to such an extent and mostly escape without major repercussions was a major blow to the trust held in the financial system of the company. Hence, new rules and regulations were quickly drafted and brought into law, to ensure that banks didn’t do anything like that ever again. Many financial institutions were fined for billions of dollars, though again, while that may seem like a major achievement, it’s a drop in the bucket for these companies with hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue annually.
Of course, bribery and corruption isn’t just a United States thing. It is a global phenomena and present everywhere in the world. However, most of the biggest companies in the world are present in the United States, which is why when there is a scandal related to these companies, it hits headlines all across the world. All, major companies in the US are well-known to everyone across the world which is why whenever any incident related to them occurs, it piques the interest of everyone, even if they’re not located in the US or have ever engaged in business with these companies.
The biggest bribery cases are extremely interesting reads on their own. And these are just the ones we know about. Some of these are epic sagas that don’t care about borders and involve many companies as well as many countries. So sit back, grab some popcorn and learn about the biggest bribery cases in history, which should and often do have movies made about them, starting with number 15:
15. Inter-American Water and Utility Society
The company ended up paying around $1.5 million in fines for bribery cases in Columbia.