Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished

We live in the post-communist and post-Watergate era and, most of all, on a corruption market. Anywhere in this world there’ll be both supply and demand on this market. Corruption and bribery will never be eradicated, as financial self-improvement and the power dynamics resulting from local and global inequalities will always feed bribery and corruption.
And this is definitely a big problem in a global competitive business environment, where companies face increasingly more challenges, from environmental issues to employees’ irresponsibility. But creating a new set of laws with the “anti-bribery” label isn’t the answer. If one sees bribery as a service sold on the corruption market, one should admit that there is both demand (the public sector) and supply (typically, the private sector). As long as there will be demand on the market, one can try and enforce the harshest anti-bribery laws, but there will still be supply and only when it is not going to be profitable anymore, companies will choose to settle to a more advantageous market or pay more attention to their internal procedures and business ethics.

Before grasping this whole process, let us first define our terms. Anti-bribery laws prohibit the payment of things of value to a government official to achieve an unfair advantage. [1] Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA):
Furthermore, a government functionary is an official who is involved in public administration or government, through either election, appointment, selection, or employment, while a corporation is a legal entity chartered by a state and with its own privileges and liabilities separate from its owners. [2] Thus, a corporation is a special form of business organization differing from sole proprietorships and limited partnerships.

Nowadays there’s an official war against global corruption, with the US enforcing its FCPA for three decades now and a “bribery convention” signed by all 28 members of the OECD plus five non-members officially entering into force in 1999. The main focus is on big players, huge multinationals which are facing harsh criminal and civil penalties for bribing foreign officials. However, with the rise of anti-bribery laws, new loopholes and spaces for inequality have been created, failing to confront the roots of the problem. Instead, anti-bribery as a corporate social responsibility (perhaps as important as reducing pollution) should be the right mindset, with primarily internal mechanisms regulating the ethics of a corporation.

All the No points:

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
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Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
Yes because...

Anti-bribery laws lead to increased inequalities and new loopholes

Let us firstly look at the purpose of anti-bribery laws. Why proscribe payments intending to influence public officials in order to retain a business advantage more than it is already happening? Intuitive enough, the answer is: to ensure equality, transparency and fair competitiveness on the market. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure both government efficiency and economic competition, so that all three parts of a society can profit (public sector, private sector and civil society). But what we are firstly witnessing is that instead of alleviating corruption, anti-bribery laws create new loopholes and inequalities which either make bribe more expensive, or lead to an uncompetitive disadvantage.
Take the US, for example, the first and most important player praising its “zero tolerance” towards bribes. Despite multi-million-dollar fines for corporations and jail for its employed individuals and senior executives, on average “only one case a year has actually been prosecuted” [1] One of the reasons is that American firms learn how to bribe smarter, such as an “attenuated quid pro quo” [2] That is, instead of a direct bribe which could be easily detected, another share in another deal usually becomes the price in exchange for an illegal service.
Where corporations are trying to comply with local regulations, there is a high chance that when they follow ethics, they are confronting with a competitive disadvantage.
The new UK Bribery Act, as well as the FCPA enable pre-emptive internal monitoring for companies, which is surely expensive and detrimental for those who pay extra just because laws are harsher home than abroad (at least when it comes to the UK and US). With different countries applying harsher punishments for the big corporations, the losers are usually those who comply, at the risk of losing their business on a local market.

No because...

Current laws make bribery harder for corporations. Even if these laws don't block all bribery, that would not justify abolishing the laws, since they still provide very effective prevention and deterrence, as we've shown in our points.

Prop seems to lament the lack of effectiveness of the current anti-bribery legislation, believing that bribes still exist, but now in “smarter” guises. To this we have 2 responses:

1.Legislation is not expected to be 100% effective. Society’s laws are equally moral statements of what we do and don't believe to be acceptable ethical practice. Criminals’ ability to ignore laws, to circumvent them or to avoid being caught when they disobey them is no reason to stop legislating against wrongdoing. Just because criminals are getting harder to catch and bribes are becoming more sophisticated, does not mean that we should surrender our legislation to them.

2. We should also bear in mind that corporations, aware of the danger of potential prosecution, are deterred and disincentivized to use bribery, because even if they don’t end up in court, they would like to avoid the enormous hassle and expense of handling an inquiry. This is a strong incentive for corporations to clean up their acts. This also makes bribery not worth it across the board, which refutes the “uncompetitive advantage” argument.

Secondly, team Romania seems to think that anti bribery legislation “makes bribes more expensive.” Indeed - high risk, illegal procedures usually have their price. But, clearly making bribery more expensive and more difficult is in no way a bad thing.

Thirdly, team Romania seems to be pessimistic about law-abiding companies falling prey to these laws while corrupt companies avoid punishment. Team Israel does not believe this to be the case. Proposition would have to prove that there are enormous failings in global judicial systems to prove that the innocent will be consistently discriminated and the guilty consistently forgiven.

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
Yes because...

2. The mixture between “dirty” & corrupt governments and “clean” & ethical corporations is simply impossible.

It is clear that enforcing anti-bribery laws is dependent on national governments which are often corrupt and discretionary. Indeed, there are now international mechanisms which can control better how national governments behave (the EU in the case of corrupt countries such as Bulgaria or Romania, for instance), but all in all there is no way that excessive restrictions (such as anti-bribery laws) would set the way for an ethical relationship between the business environment and the political one, insofar as national governments chose to cooperate de jure, but not de facto. It is especially the case of developing countries, with post-communist traditions, aggressive capitalism and greedy politicians. It is unarguable that corruption exists even in long-established democracies, with improved ethical political behaviour, but nor tradition, neither morals prevented UK MPs to accept bribes. Similarly, overpaid MEPs still found several hundreds of thousands of euros attractive for tabling amendments to legislation being passed in the EU assembly. [1]

So punishing corporations in addition to established laws against bribery for individuals and politicians is like buying a more expensive leash for a wild dog. It doesn’t tame the beast, but it just diverts our attention to the supply on the corruption market, instead of tackling the core of the issue, which is the demand.

One could argue that with anti-bribery laws, prosecutors often cooperate with corporations which in theory are more motivated to be more proactive in their fight against corruption. Indeed, facts show us that sometimes a settlement is more favorable to a company than prosecution, but how is that more effective? On the contrary, we state that this kind of cooperation creates the opportunity for inappropriate government interventions, feeding the demand-supply chain of the corruption market. In other words.

No because...

Just because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish “dirty” & “clean” or right from wrong, doesn’t mean our laws shouldn’t try to do so.

FIRSTLY: The fact that some governments are corrupt doesn’t mean that this type of law should be abolished. Bottom line of Prop’s argument is that in corrupt countries there shouldn’t be any law at all, because we don’t trust them to enforce it! Team Israel sees no reason to bow before corruption and ease it, just because it exists. When a crime is committed repeatedly, it’s a reason to increase oversight, not to legalize it.

SECONDLY: We don’t agree with Prop’s notion that the problem here is “demand” alone. Just like every criminal market, we find both the the supplier and the client to be guilty. Consider, for example the case with human trafficking, with drugs, or with child pornography. Both supply and demand exist in all these markets, all are illegal. We legislate in an effort to curb the entire market because we believe these practices are wrong and harmful - we don’t simply focus the “demand” and lift all prohibitions from the suppliers!

THIRDLY: We don’t agree that there is over-regulation of any kind. Rather the opposite, as long as there’s corruption, the efforts aren’t sufficient.

FINALLY: Prop’s logic is problematic when discussing the subject of settlement. We should remember that settlement can only occur after the state starts a judicial procedure against a corporation, which can only happen when there’s law. Without laws, states don’t have any option to act against corporations, and the corps don’t have any reason to settle. We should remember that settlement isn’t cooperation - it only comes after one side has decided to break the law unilaterally, and the other to uphold it.

We see no reason whatsoever to cease fighting something that Prop agrees is harmful. As long as we’re weeding out the wrongs in our society there's no reason to give up.

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
Yes because...

Adequate solution for the root-cause: anti-bribery should be part of companies’ CSR missions

Do we mean by this that bribes should be acceptable and even desirable because they come with some forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and they eventually pay off for the entire community? No! We righteously agree here with what the Opposition might say: generally corruption is bad, bribes add as much as 25 percent to the cost of public procurement, resulting in lower quality services, unaffordable for the poorest, while they skyrocket the distrust of citizens in their governments. [1]

Instead, we are arguing that the fight against bribery should be a form of CSR, just as environmental and social problems nowadays constitute moral obligations for corporations. So what governments could do, instead of creating new anti-bribery laws, is ensuring that the fight against corruption is companies’ responsibility, while minding the behaviour of their own public officials. The government is the entity that sets out the terms of the game, but over-regulating corporations in addition to its citizens and their private lives, is simply detrimental: there is a justified fear that corporations will take their businesses elsewhere (where the bribe is much cheaper), as well as there will always be a suspicion concerning public-private partnerships and, consequently, regarding investments in local communities, as the general mindset is that “they’re all guilty, but let’s punish the big fish”. Such a mindset is detrimental for both businesses and governments to the point that anti-bribery laws on corporations could saw off the bough on which governments are sitting.

Instead, we argue that a better way out is abolishing anti-bribery laws for corporations and ensuring a more friendly climate where corporations themselves fight against corruption because it is yet another opportunity to create “shared value” for the society.

No because...

Anti-bribery principles should be part of companies’ CSR missions. It should also be the law.

First of all, we don’t find this mutually exclusive - we’d like corporations to act against corruption on their own volition, but when they don’t, and actually instigate corruption, then we should be able to act against them. Since we all agree that bribery is bad, we haven’t received a single reason to rely exclusively on corporate goodwill, especially when its obvious that some corporations have no good will.

Actually, Prop’s analogy to environmental and social issues is interesting. We have laws to regulate the amount of pollution or the working conditions that a corporation creates, and don’t rely only on CSR in order to make the corporations act right. We see no reason to make an exception in the case of corruption, which creates further environmental & social problems, as we show in our positive arguments.

When corruption harms citizens, as Prop shown, then it is the government’s duty to safeguard the populace. The claim that there is over-regulation is simply an assertion, and furthermore, if a particular law in a particular country is over-regulating, that law should be revised. Not abolished, but revised. In order to prove that no country should have such laws, Prop has to show that all laws are over-regulating.

Companies can’t always take their business elsewhere, we should remember that the corporate world is competitive - one company can ignore a market, but others will come in and use that market. Those, hopefully, won’t sell faulty pharmaceuticals.
On the other hand, if a company will take its polluting plant elsewhere, where bribe isn’t required, then we’ll prefer that to sickening the people.

We’re at no point advocating ignoring smaller fish - once again, not mutually exclusive. What we do say is that the damages that big corporations create are so much bigger, that we need to pay it special attention.

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
Yes because...

Companies have the interest of controling internal corruption themselves.

A better way out of this problem is abolishing anti-bribery laws for corporations and ensuring a more friendly climate where corporations themselves fight against corruption because it is yet another opportunity to create “shared value” for the society. In addition, since bribes negatively affect corporations’ competitive position, it is their interest to report irregularities and apart from the existing legal frameworks stipulating public procurement issues, for instance, there is no need for extra-rules that add more to the same. Not only are companies part of the corruption equation, “but they also have the ability to exert significant influence over government policies and practices.” [2] In fact, corporations are the most vulnerable part of this equation, since corruption was top-of-mind business issue for most business executives: two out of five executives have lost a bid because of corrupt officials and also claimed that their competitors pay bribes. [ibidem] So it is their businesses they have to defend, case in which we argue that ensuring compliance to maintain their level of integrity, encouraging enhanced monitoring with the collaboration of stakeholders (among which consumers, local communities are key-factors) and expanding their efforts to influence the demand (lobbying, exposing violations) would better address the core issue.
Anti-bribery should become a strategic CSR priority for corporations, not another tool for governments to control the business environment, by creating more harm than actually the root-cause.

No because...

Legislating laws is critical to our society not just due to the effectiveness of laws in deterring corporations from corrupt acts. Laws are also important as a cursor and statement of what our society views as valid and moral conduct, and what we denounce as corrupt and undesirable.

Therefore, Prop’s claim that bribery laws are not needed is missing the basic point of what laws are for. And practically, abolishing anti-bribery laws sends corporations the clear message of bribery no longer being denounced morally.

Abolishing anti-bribery laws has nothing to do with motivating corporations to more social responsibility. Laws for protecting society, and social responsibility, are not mutually exclusive but actually co-exist: companies can report irregularities or display social responsibility, in an environment where there are also specific laws. We've also shown this in our previous refutation regarding environmental and social issues.

Therefore, by keeping the anti bribery law, we as a society enjoy both the moral and deterrence benefits of the law, as well as the continued social responsibility of corporations, which is also fuelled by being fully aware and constantly reassured of society’s harsh view on bribery.

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
Yes because...

Anti-bribery laws lead to increased inequalities and new loopholes (response).

Our burden of proof is to show how anti-bribery laws on corporations are ineffective and in addition, we tried to argue how their unintended effects do more harm than the intended ones.
Now, what the Opp seems to do from the beginning is to give us the typical straw man sophism, to which we answer: we don’t expect perfect legislation, as we already acknowledged that corruption is impossible to eradicate, given the nature of human beings. However, one can reduce it or prevent it through various means, among which we argued that anti-bribery is NOT one of them. So the first point wasn’t really needed, as we didn’t imply in any way that just because criminals avoid laws we should stop punishing them. We simply suggested how this method is excessive, and even damaging.

Secondly, it seems the “uncompetitive advantage” argument was misunderstood by our opponents. We were discussing the cases of corporations (like Unilever) which decide to move their business elsewhere because the bribes they should pay (in countries like Bulgaria, for instance) cost them too much in terms of risks (since they’re under the microscope at home), while not paying them (as most competitors try to do) puts them in an uncompetitive disadvantage. And not only is this unfair, but it also increases inequalities between economies globally, which is one unintended long-term effect. A recent research study addressing the effectiveness of the anti-bribery laws on corps shows that corps with stricter laws (like the US with the FCPA) would rather not invest in countries perceived to be corrupt. Hence, a major drawback: with excessive penalties on certain countries, there will be a “chilling effect” on businesses in others [1] Inequalities created by corrupt and less corrupt states will split the world into “just wannabe, but can’t afford” bribers and simple, rampant bribers. Thus, the root cause of the problem isn't tackled in any way.

No because...

Prop argues that bribery laws are not the means to reduce/prevent bribery based on the number of prosecutions p/a. Aside from the fact that this is a correlative rather than causative measure of effectiveness, we have shown the legislation to be useful, given that:
1. Corps are deterred from bribing not only because of potential fines, but because of the enormous financial cost of entering into a lawsuit, in addition to the toll on resources & reputation. The latter, prop has told us, is of critical importance to corps.
2. Prosecution & effective prevention are not the same thing. Large numbers of corps being investigated under anti-bribery legislation shows that the laws provide a necessary legal framework for crucial scrutiny into potential crimes & prevention of injustice.

1. Prop claims those unable to bribe due to tough legislation are disadvantaged as less-regulated corps WILL be able to pay bribes. The suggestion here appears to be that we level the playing field by abolishing laws, so a negative practice becomes available to all, equally. After conceding that bribes are bad for society, Prop’s suggestion that we remove laws ‘in the name of fairness’ seems both contradictory & dangerous.
2. Prop worries that “corporations will take their businesses elsewhere (where bribe is much cheaper)”. This points to a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue at hand. Today’s anti bribery laws explicitly prohibit bribing FOREIGN officials, aiming to ensure corps cannot take advantage of corruption overseas. Corps opting not to invest in ‘corrupt’ countries also incentivize those places to eradicate corruption in order to stay competitive globally.

Above all: bribery endangers communities’ health, steals wealth & shifts it to the pockets of corrupt government officials.[[]]

This isn’t just “unfair”, it is gross injustice. Business competition cannot stand above protecting human rights.

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
Yes because...

The mixture between “dirty” & corrupt governments and “clean” & ethical corporations is simply impossible.(reconstruction)

1.At no point did we support legalizing corruption, but for different countries there are different measures. And indeed, we argued that in more corrupt countries we have good reasons to doubt that prosecutors will do their jobs fairly, as typically judicial systems are also defective.Also, as long as politicians are not being held accountable strictly, there’s no way you can even imagine that you can solve corruption by theoretically adopting yet another law against the private sector.

2. In countries with rampant corruption, bribe has been unofficially legalized because there’s a problem with the demand. As long as there’ll be less people willing to accept bribes (in countries like Denmark or Norway [2], the supply will automatically shrink.

3. Our philosophy is that quantity in anti-bribery measures does not rightly address the corruption problem, but strategy does. When it comes to bribe, we already have a legal framework holding accountable companies for fraud, tax evasion and unfair competitive behavior. What anti-bribery laws try to impose now is a preventive mechanism that the company is responsible for. This basically equals with a preemptive tax each corp has to pay for ensuring that its employees will not be corrupt. This involves email scanning and surveillance which can set a medium company on the verge of bankruptcy, just because it has to be precautious in front of the prosecutors. For instance, the UK Bribery Act considers an offence failing to prevent bribery, so a company becomes liable “unless it can demonstrate that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent the offending conduct.” [3] This is surely excessive and vague enough to be totally ineffective . Finally, In those countries where there’s an anti-bribery law on corporations,they would surely preffer cooperation to prosecution, creating more space for inappropriate government interventions, and thus feeding the demand.

No because...

1. Perhaps a misunderstanding. Opposition in this debate has never advocated “adopting yet another law” or imposing "further" regulation. We’re simply talking about not abolishing laws we already have. Prop’s burden is to show that they are harmful ENOUGH as to warrant abolition.
2. We believe the most effective solution would be to tackle both supply & demand, as these are two sides of the same coin. Furthermore, the entire market requires our attention, just as child pornography does. We target suppliers AND consumers of this market, because we believe it hams fundmental rights in society.
We are also interested in what Prop suggests as a mechanism to lower demand for bribery, or human greed? Perhaps, until they have a great plan in mind, we can lower supply by limiting the ability of large corporations to pay bribes.
3. Prop is concerned that bribery laws unfairly impose “a preventive mechanism that the company is responsible for.” Regulation is expensive, they argue, therefore penalizes those who comply, and may find themselves “on the verge of bankruptcy.”
But Props’ alternative to these laws is for companies to self-regulate & treat bribery prevention as part of their CSR missions! Surely this too requires “adequate procedures in place to prevent the offending conduct” which they find so cumbersome? It seems the proposed alternative given by our opponents- a basic tenet of their case- is riddled with exactly the issues they are trying to avoid.
4. On 1 hand, prop told us bribery laws are ineffective at reducing bribery, on the other hand they explain how these laws prevent some corps from bribing & thus impose an unfair disadvantage. So it seems that we now all agree that the laws DO have efficacy in preventing bribes. Prop are now concerned that those who don't or can't bribe will be disadvantaged. This is a ridiculous argument, best illustrated by an analogy:Those who don't exploit workers are at a financial disadvantage. Should we abo

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
Yes because...

Defending team summative speech

Laws are not expected to be 100% effective. They are, however, expected to do two things: (1) be somewhat effective, and (2) not be counterproductive. Corporate anti-bribery laws fail on both counts. Evidence presented in our inequality argument showed that even the toughest legislation did not yield any tangible results. One prosecution per year is closer to 0% than to 100% in terms of effectiveness.

Evidence presented in our first two arguments also show that anti-bribery laws are, in fact, counter-productive. Globally, they favor companies with least respect for fairness and allow them to prevail. There is no field-leveling, because companies are not deterred by anti-bribery laws, they are simply forced to become more creative. Companies that end up suffering are those that are more morally inclined anyway. Countries that end up suffering are those that most needed those corporations there, as the Unilever WSJ evidence shows. Anti-bribery laws are ineffective when it comes to actually curtailing corruption, but they do have an effect in increasing disparities between companies and countries.

The alternative is shifting responsibility on the individual and on the social responsibility, rather than duty, of the corporations. The current corporate culture in which individuals have no role or responsibility is exactly what fosters corruption. As long as individuals have a larger entity to fall back on, they will always be tempted to act with complete disregard for other people's interests. It is not a certain Pharma company that is willing to sacrifice lives for profit, but certain Pharma executives who know that the worst that can happen to them is to be left without a company, instead of serving jail time. Anti-bribery laws targeting corporations are thus likely to achieve an increase in the temptation to use corrupt practices.

Change has to target individuals and has to come from inside the corporations. Examples of Denmark, Sweeden or Norway we presented prove this: genuine and stable change comes from companies and individuals who understand bribery is hurting them. Self-policing does not mean introducing a middle man; on the contrary - it means dispensing with the middle man. What the opposition fails to understand is that legal obligations undermine moral decisions. Making bribery bad because it is illegal will always leave room for bribery to still be desirable and morally equivocal.

If the government truly wants to take care of its citizens it has to put in place a mechanism that rewards honesty and makes bribes useless for companies. Making bribes illegal does not make them seem less attractive and does not solve the core issues. Corporate anti-bribery laws should be abolished because they have no effect whatsoever, raise the playing field instead of leveling it, and allow bribery to still be considered attractive for the individuals who actually make the decisions and run the companies.

No because...
Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
No because...

Corporate culture necessitates treating corporations as a collective, rather than as a collection of individuals

Opposition believes that there is need for specific targeting of corporations in law, due to the fact that corporations are unique entities that need legal addressing as a single form, and not as a disjoint band of individuals.

Corporate law creates corporate liability for the actions of its workers, and this is essential in order to fight the crimes that corporate culture creates, both intentionally and unintentionally.

Corporate culture is very competitive, both between corporations and workers that are constantly vying for better positions. It also creates a kind of identity - someone is a “Mitsubishi worker”, and that’s how he defines himself. For example in Japan, which is a key origin of corporate culture, we see that corporations supply everything to their workers, from housing to entertainment. This creates loyalty, which, when a worker feels that illegal measures are expected of him, he faces a choice between the certainty of losing his whole life and future if he won’t put the corp before all, or the mere possibility of being caught. An easy calculation.

When the only thing that the corp cares about is the bottom line, and bribing will bring better results, corps create a culture that encourages the employee to break laws, while the true liability to his actions is actually with the corporation.

Here we change the bottom line: without the law, corporation would prefer to turn a blind eye on its employees’ misdeeds, as they know if the employee is caught, he will personally be penalized, while the corp is not damaged. the corp profits anyway with no downside. Anti-bribery laws ensure corps review their internal procedures, so as not to be harmed.[[]]

Without corporate law, the law can only put to trial the employee who committed the crime, and the bigwigs that pushed him towards it. Therefore, we believe that if a corporation creates a reality in which its workers need to break the law, the corporation should be liable.

Yes because...

We do agree with the practice and trends in today’s times, but corporate culture doesn’t give us solid reasons to justify a person’s irresponsible or immoral.If we take into account the “collective power” aka the corp, there’s a strong argument coming from a powerful experiment in 2011: “Collectivism may promote bribery by diffusing responsibility”, allowing individuals to sidestep their own morals and do business in ways which they know to be illegal. [1]
So a more plausible scenario is that the Mitsubischi worker would feel less responsible for accepting the bribery mechanisms if the anti-bribery laws make the corp accountable (notice that here, the corporation is the “bad guy” from the start, as everyone presumes it’s going to cheat). Which means that this whole framework transforms its purpose into enforcing more surveillance on employees for corps so that they catch the “potential cheater” in the company at an early stage.
So coming back to our point: there’s always a choice, even for our poor Mitsubischi worker. If there’s blackmail or harassment involved, there are harsh punishments for that, as there are a lot of whistleblowers, advocacy groups and anti-corruption movements in civil society to loudly denounce such misbehaviors. But he has to know that breaking laws is neither a good practice, nor something attributable to the company only, when the employee is guilty. Enforcing such a law against corps is simply giving an excuse to employees to blame their companies, which is another unintended damaging effect. As for the company, the Opp team seems to forget how important top management is, as well as reputation. Current CEO of Statoil (the famous Norwegian oil company) publicly admitted that “the corruption scandal has tarnished Statoil and Norway’s reputation abroad”. [2] For its Iranion bribes, Statoil was fined 1.6mil pounds in 2004 for corruption, when there was no anti-bribe

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
No because...

Corporate anti-bribery laws protect public health and safety

Proposition will doubtless agree today's corporations have tremendous influence on public health and safety, both in the developing and in the developed worlds.

It follows, therefore, that corporations bribing officials to circumvent safety or health regulations represent a substantial danger to society, bigger than any risk that might be posed by an individual.
Indeed, it is imperative that we pay particular legislative attention to corporate corruption, in order protect the public from the enormous harm that could result from even one corporation engaging in this practice.

Public health:
Approving pharmaceuticals is an arduous procedure which can take many years. Conversely, one year of drug sales and first mover advantage can bring a company billions. Therefore, corporations have enormous temptation to bribe officials to bypass these essential procedures, resulting in approval of medications whose safety has not been adequately determined.
Unfortunately, this is not just a theoretical argument. Last year, 6 big Pharmas were investigated for violations of the FCPA, the US anti-bribery legislation.[[]] It is -these- laws that allowed the US government to subpoena and investigate the local and international practices of these companies, and thus to protect the public from the long-term and drastic harms of unsafe drugs going to market.

Public Safety:
If corporations aren’t subject to rigorous anti-bribery investigation, they pay off officials to obtain higher pollution quotas, to secure licences for buildings not compliant with safety standards, or to develop in unsafe areas. Again, this is not theoretical: Bribes are the cause of water pollution in India[[]]; G.E. has been accused of bribing the Puerto Rico Water Authority.[[]] Because corporations can pollute incomparably more than any other pollution source, we must legislate to ensure corporations can’t bribe their way around the law.

Yes because...

Public health: we’ve read the articles, but now is the Opp’s duty to argue how many of the pharmaceutical companies were really fined and most of all, how these fines actually proved efficient on the long run. The local and international practices were well known for years worldwide. The US had the FCPA in place long before they decided to show to the public how governments are fighting against corruption. The same governments that are yearly more and more distrusted by their citizens and which strive to win back at least their votes, if not their confidence. Allegedly the most affected sector by these laws is the pharmaceutical one. But think about it: Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical group in the world, disclosed that it paid $35m over six months to 4,500 doctors in private practice for education and the development and marketing of new drugs – payments that are legal in the US [1] Free trips to conferences in Marocco and Bali for doctors where Pfizer promotes its newest drugs which are packaged 5 times more expensive than generic drugs are not considered bribes according to laws worldwide.Once again, the anti-bribery law fails to prevent the core of the issue because of its loopholes. And citizens from developing countries still consume expensive drug which are shamelessly advertised on TV ten times a day. Would the Opp call this protecting public health? Having these examples in mind, the Prop believes that public health is no more protected by anti-brib laws than it already is.
Public safety: Let us start with the facts. Bribes aren’t the cause of water pollution in India. Sewage, animal waste, fertilizers, pesticides, mercury and all that are the cause for water pollution. Coca Cola. But bribing is simply a mechanism facilitating the cause to its effect.Similarly, all those companies accused of and convicted for irresponsible behavior have to answer in front of the law for their misbehavior, as environmental laws specify.

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
No because...

Abolishing anti-Bribary laws allows criminals to escape accountability

In the real world, unlike Prop’s case, there will always be corruption. But following the proposition, we will only rely on the corporations’ good will, plus we won’t be able to act significantly against corruption.

Without corporate law, we can only sue individuals for criminal acts, but the nature of corporations might make this impossible. Corporations are multinational entities, spread through different cities and states, with byzantine structure that could confuse any investigation - who has acted on any action, and by who’s authority. By acting through a number of internal & external middlemen[[]] the corporation can hide its trail. Only by treating the corporation as an independent legal entity can we connect the dots and get the ability to sue for the crime.

The more actors cooperate in a bribe, the harder it is to prove that anyone of them has breached every clause of the law in the needed way to show a criminal offence. The moment that several branches of a corporation commit a crime as a whole, but each branch only commits a part of the crime, then we cannot find individual culpability, while the complete entity is still responsible for a crime.

More than that, the ability of the state to act against offenders abroad is very limited, while corporate law allows it to hurt the corporation where it’s vulnerable - its bottom line. This allows the state not to punish the low-level employees pushed to crime (as demonstrated in our corporate culture point), which doesn’t significantly harm the corporation, and so doesn’t deter future crimes. Instead, corporate law, which puts fines or even forbids a guilty corporation from trading in a country is exactly the type of needed deterrent - In order to prevent & punish corporate malfeasance, we need to view the corporation as whole both for the purpose of criminal investigation, and punishment.

Yes because...

The website reminds us all that good practices stem from private initiatives, not governmental orders. CSR is all about realizing how to better address your consumers by letting them know how benevolently responsible you are. Taking that away from corps will surely deprive them of some added value.
Let us finally analyze the situation imagined by the Opposition. They say that corporations can hide their trails by acting through middlepersons and avoid punishments. But how would the Opposition imagine then a successful prosecution without actually finding those middlepersons that lead back to the corporations? One cannot judge “the corporation” because not “the corporation” is bribing, but that senior executive, that Mitsubischi worker, that small, pervert and greedy group who doesn’t know how to do business otherwise. So you need people first of all so that you are able to gather proof, either way. Otherwise, why destroy a corporation’s reputation of years due to a temporary defective management? As collective identity has repercussions over all members, wouldn’t the Opposition agree that labeling a corporation as “corrupt for giving bribe” would harm all parties involved, including innocent people?
But it is exactly this need to be able to act on individuals, and not diffuse responsibility, that is cornerstone to countering bribery and corruption. Fining corporations does not “hit them where they’re vulnerable,” on the contrary. Big corporations like Microsoft have no qualms in breaking the law and paying millions and billions in fines, as long as individuals in senior management know they will not personally suffer the consequence of their actions

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
No because...

Anti- Bribery Legislation Prevents Anti-Competitive Practice

We all believe that today’s businesses have the right to compete in a free market and that market factors should determine the most competitive enterprise. Bribery in the marketplace undermines these basic principles and endangers both developed and developing economies.

Developed Economies:
Often, emergent businesses compete for government tenders, or to obtain contracts in local bids. However, their competition and investment is rendered completely ineffectual, by large corporations greasing the palms of local authorities to ensure their corporation secures the contract.

In addition to the obvious moral implications of this anti-competitive behaviour, there are practical implications. If established corporations can easily pay these large bribes, small start-up companies will be disincentivized from taking part in competition. Those who are not initially deterred will be quickly removed from the race, unable to compete with the large bribes offered.

The tangible result of this detrimental practice is to create and sustain monopolies, which in turn impacts negatively on the economy at large and on the individual consumer.

Developing Economies:
A UN report on the effects of anti-competitive business cultures on developing countries and their development prospects discusses how eradicating anti-competitive practices like bribery “can directly and/or indirectly contribute to wealth maintenance and creation, which is key to poverty alleviation.” [[]]

Clearly, we do not want a scenario in which wealthy western corporations can profit from business in the developing world simply because they can afford to bribe officials into ignoring worthy local competitors.

If corporate anti-bribery legislation were to be abolished, we lose its highly deterrent effect, and we also lose the ability to prosecute these unfair practices which perpetuate business monopolies at best, and cycles of poverty at worst.

Yes because...

Corporate world is competitive, but becomes less competitive when inequalities in treatment are prominent. Consider the case of Unilever which pulled out of Bulgaria because the cost of bribes was too high Need we remind you that Bulgaria is one of the countries ratifying the OECD convention against bribery?
Furthermore, business monopolies are anyways created and consolidated in developing countries (and not only!) but anti-bribery laws can hardly tackle the issue: in Balkan countries like Bulgaria, Turkey or Greece, partnerships” between companies and public authorities lie on such a complex network of relations, nephews and uncles that bribes as defined by laws and specified at the beginning can hardly be detected. As we’ve shown, over-regulation is not merely an assertion. Anti-bribery laws are excessive and vague because they stimulate fears that lead to increased inequalities between developing and developed countries, they create space for unaccountability where corrupt governments can easily show off with their “success” in fighting against corruption, while quietly waiting for the big “donations” at the next elections and they also pretend companies should be responsible with preventing corruption in their own business environments. If anything, governments are responsible for creating a friendly environment where preventing anti-corruption becomes morally, not legally binding.

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
No because...

The counterproductive Middle Man

Let’s compare the current situation, where law authorities police bribery, to the new advocated situation, where there’s no anti-bribery law, just other anti-fraud legislation such as tax evasion laws. Prop advocates that all loopholes that enable bribery should be self-policed by corporations.

Ethically, government should be the body to protect against bribery (we discuss this below). Practically, what Prop suggest is bringing in a middle man - the corps’ self policing actions. Then, instead of the corp answering directly to the government, the gov’t will have to police the corps’ police activity.

This raises obvious problems:
1. More difficult to prosecute - a new world of complex red tape keeping the gov’t further from the perpetrators.
2. Policing police equals even less results.
3. Less effectiveness results in room for much more bribery and corruption.

Furthermore in practice we all saw what happened when financial institutions repeatedly argued they can self-police their practices. Then came the financial crisis of late 2000s, as a direct result of these corporations self-regulating their risky financial practices, while putting government regulators to sleep. Prop is going to create a reality similar to this if not worse.

If corps
 we can’t expect
This reference also provides saddening proofs of the failure of Prop’s advocated CSR’s in countries such as Nigeria, 

This new mechanism will make the entire process much more complex and less effective, which will create more bribes, dishonesty and corrupt corporate workers because along with this ineffective body the Prop proposed, there would be no Anti Brib

Yes because...
Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
No because...

Anti-bribery laws are consistent with Government mandate and responsibility

Today as things stand if someone commits a crime they go to jail. If a corporation commits a violation of corporate law it is fined, sanctioned, etc. Prop tried to advocate that with Anti-Bribery laws, in the case of corporations, they should be an exception to the general rule.

To begin with, this is a problem because both sides agree that bribery is still considered a very bad thing. So Prop’s only real major claim left is their logic that corps can police themselves better than the Government can.

This has a few underlying premises:
1. Corps have the best interest of the general public, or at least on the same level of a government judicial body – otherwise, if they will err to the side of their own interest, they are not the best to arbitrate.
2. That in practicality this would catch more corruption and have a better practical outcome.

Governments were created to take care of people, protect their interest and arbitrate when needed. As evident from the above, corporations and their employees are not the right body to fight bribery. We need to give authority and power to protect the population’s interest, to those who are more likely to have these interests at the top of their priorities. Those that who are less likely to err in favor of themselves when they can, instead of erring on the side of public interest. The financial crisis of late 2000s is a vivid example of the risks in not doing so.[[]]
We’ve also shown in our points how the government is the most effective in fighting bribery.

But most importantly: Even If corps would be as impartial as the government and Even If they could be more efficient - current anti bribery laws do some good and are still a deterrent, as we proved. So, while we agree that reforms could be instated and the system isn't perfect, at best this new system of checks and balances -can work alongside- the existing one, and doesn’t call for abolishing the law as the only possible solution.

Yes because...
Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished
No because...

Opposition Summary & Conclusion

In this debate, Prop's burden was proving Corporate Anti Bribery Laws to be sufficiently harmful as to warrant abolition. Therefore, we begin by considering the harms presented & clearly show that they don’t constitute a convincing justification for abolishing these laws. We then turn to the question of efficacy, reiterating that these laws do indeed work to better & protect society.

HARM 1: “Business Disadvantage”
Initially both teams agreed that bribery is a corrupt & dangerous practice, differing only on the mechanism to fight it. However, Prop then claimed that preventing corps from bribing disadvantages them, as other companies will still bribe. This drastically alters their stance on bribery being harmful. Instead, they advocate that Corps’ should have a right to bribe. Legitimising bribery in the interest of this “fairness” is dangerous & unconscionable.

HARM 2: “Compliance is expensive”
Prop worries about the admin toll on Corps trying to comply. We fail to see how their proposed alternative of Corps self-regulating alleviates this problem. Indeed, costs will rise when government actors step out of the picture & need to be replaced.

HARM 3: “Overregulation”
Prop argues that existing laws cover bribery, such as tax evasion laws, making bribery laws redundant. If so, their suggested self-policing will be redundant, because there would be nothing to self-police!

We presented enormous harms in abolishing the law:
1. It facilitates Corp bribing, at great risk to public health & safety, which can’t be dealt with under existing laws. Prop responded that Pharmas still bribe in spite of existing legislation. Interestingly, though, if you follow their link you will see that these same companies are under US investigation for these practices. Anti-Bribery legislation is what facilitates this.
2. Eradicates the right to free and fair economic competition
3. Endangers developing economies by allowing richer companies, able to pay higher bribes, to remain monopolies

EFFICACY: we’ve shown that the laws are:
1) Effective deterrents, as previously analyzed. We remind Opp that deterrence is a basic tenet of the justice system.
2) Effective mechanisms of investigation and prosecution as evidenced by the myriad of big Pharma companies under investigation. Opp seem dissatisfied by these, so we point them to a plethora of examples of effective prosecution [[]] [[]] [[]]

We’ve also shown Prop alternative to be ineffectual and illogical: Allowing those with a vested interest to police themselves is counter-intuitive and relying on unregulated CSR has detrimental effects[[]]. US gun manufacturers also provide a good example[[]].

Prop have given no concrete cause whatsoever to abolish laws which deter crime, protect society, and facilitate bringing powerful, corrupt entities to justice.

Yes because...

Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished

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2 Comments on "Anti-Bribery Laws On Corporations Should Be Abolished"


I don’t think they should be abolished. Instead, we should try to make them work better. Now if only we could get our politicians to agree…


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