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Bribery and Corruption Casebook: The View from Under the Table by Laura Hymes, Joseph T. Wells

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CHAPTER 10

Conflicting Interests, Conflicting Cultures

DOUGLAS M. WATSON

Conflicts of interest embrace a special category of corruption. They are special because violations speak loudly of an ethical lapse, which cuts to the core of a person’s integrity, honesty and professional responsibility. This is a very personal offense, and not infrequently ends with an emotional reaction. That is because conflicts of interest can exist only when there is a breach of trust, a demonstrated lack of good faith. Conflicts carry a double whammy — not only do they impinge on personal reputations, they can also significantly impact business reputations. No one wants to be tagged as untrustworthy, dishonest, unprincipled or amoral, but that can be the result once a conflict of interest is proved. It is a challenge to prove these offenses, but usually no more so than any complex fraud — until you enter the multicultural international business environment, that is, where what may seem obvious and normal to you may not actually be so. That is exactly what happened to Frank Warley and Ali Aziz Al-Obedi and their company, SeizME.

A Forced Partnership

Frank and Ali were an odd team. Pushed together by their company, neither really wanted to work with the other. They were both engineers working in the Engineering Procurement Division of SeizME, a company based in a progressive Arabian Gulf state. Frank was from the United States; tall, tow-headed with a big chin and small pale eyes. To look at him, you ...

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