A closer look at greasy palms 细看脏手

2020年10月


Bribery pays—if you don’t get caught
贿赂生财——只要不被抓到

 

A closer look at greasy palms 细看脏手


MANY BIG companies may be struggling with depressed sales, but these are busy times for bribery-busters. Mexico is abuzz over allegations by an ex-boss of Pemex, the state oil giant, that several senior politicians received bungs from companies including Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction firm. The scandal is the latest in a string of graft cases to make headlines this year, starting with Airbus’s record $4bn settlement in January over accusations of corruption for making illegal payments in various countries.
很多大公司可能都在为销售低迷而苦苦挣扎,但这段时间反贪人员忙个不停。一起丑闻在墨西哥传得沸沸扬扬:国有石油巨头墨西哥国家石油公司(Pemex)的一名前老板指控几名资深政客收受了巴西建筑公司Odebrecht等多家公司的贿赂。这是今年登上新闻头条的一连串贿赂案件中的最新一起。第一起是在1月,空客支付了创纪录的40亿美元,就自己在多个国家非法支付佣金的行贿指控达成和解。
Corporate bribery is hardly new. In surveys, between a third and a half of companies typically claim to have lost business to rivals who won contracts by paying kickbacks. But such perceptions-based research has obvious limitations. A new study takes a more rigorous approach, and draws some striking conclusions.
企业行贿不算什么新鲜事。在调查中,通常有三分之一到一半的公司声称自己的业务被那些通过支付回扣赢得合同的竞争对手抢走了。但是,这种基于主观看法的调查显然有局限性。一项新研究采用了更严谨的方法,得出了一些惊人的结论。
Raghavendra Rau of Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, Yan-Leung Cheung of the Education University of Hong Kong and Aris Stouraitis of Hong Kong Baptist University examined nearly 200 prominent bribery cases in 60 countries between 1975 and 2015. For the firms doing the bribing, they found, the short-term gains were juicy: every dollar of bribe translated into a $6-9 increase in excess returns, relative to the overall stockmarket.
剑桥大学嘉治商学院(Judge Business School)的拉格范德拉•劳(Raghavendra Rau)、香港教育大学的张仁良,以及香港浸会大学的阿里斯•斯托伊蒂斯(Aris Stouraitis)调查了1975至2015年间60个国家的近200起著名贿赂案。他们发现,行贿会给公司带来丰厚的短期收益:相对于整体股市,每一美元的贿赂会转化为六到九美元的超额回报。
That, however, does not take account of the chances of getting caught. These have risen as enforcement of America’s 43-year-old anti-bribery law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), has been stepped up and other countries have passed similar laws. The number of FCPA cases is up sharply since the financial crisis of 2007-09, according to Stanford Law School (see chart). It has dipped a bit under President Donald Trump, who has criticised the FCPA for hobbling American firms overseas, but remains well above historic levels. Total fines for FCPA violations were $14bn in 2016-19, 48 times as much as in the four years to 2007.
不过,这没有考虑到东窗事发的可能性。随着43年前出台的美国反贿赂法《反海外腐败法》(以下简称FCPA)执行力度的加大,以及其他国家也通过了类似的法律,被抓获的情况已然增多。斯坦福大学法学院的数据显示,自2007至2009年金融危机以来,FCPA案件的数量急剧上升(见图表)。特朗普批评FCPA阻碍了美国公司在海外的发展,在他执政下相关案件的数量略有下降,但仍远高于历史水平。2016至2019年,因违反FCPA而产生的罚款总额达140亿美元,是2004至2007年这四年的48倍。 
The authors also tested 11 hypotheses that emerged from past studies of bribery. They found support for some, for instance that firms pay larger bribes when they expect to receive larger benefits, and that the net benefits of bribing are smaller in places with more public disclosure of politicians’ sources of income.
作者还检验了过往的贿赂研究得出的11个假设。他们找到了支持其中一些假设的依据,比如,当公司预计自己会获取更大的利益时会支付更大额的贿赂;在政客的收入来源被更多地公开披露的地方,行贿带来的净收益更少。
But they punctured other bits of received wisdom. Most striking, they found no link between democracy and graft. This challenges the “Tullock paradox”, which holds that firms can get away with smaller bribes in democracies because politicians and officials have less of a lock on the system than those in autocratic countries, and so cannot extract as much rent. Such findings will doubtless be of interest to corruption investigators and unscrupulous executives alike.
但他们也对其他一些流行观点提出了异议。最值得注意的是,他们发现民主和贪污之间没有必然联系。这对“塔洛克悖论”(Tullock paradox)提出了挑战。塔洛克悖论认为,在民主国家,企业可以顺利地用更小额的贿赂就达成目的,因为与专制国家相比,它们的政客和官员对现行制度的控制更少,因而无法谋取同样多的经济租。这样的研究结果无疑会让反腐败调查人员和那些肆无忌惮的高管都很感兴趣。