Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shocked the Italian media with his views on bribery and its necessity in doing business in Third World markets. A series of corruption scandals has rocked the Italian political scene, whilst the current election campaign added to the intensity of the media inquiries into the unsavoury business practises of Berlusconi’s former allies. Amongst the targets of the latest anti-corruption campaign are the CEOs of Finmeccanica S.p.A. and Eni S.p.A.. It seems that Berlusconi felt the need to defend them, telling a Financial Times correspondent, “Bribes are a phenomenon that exists, and it’s useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you’re negotiating with Third World countries and régimes”.
The former Italian Prime Minister also tried to explain that bribing government officials is basically an unavoidable part of doing business, and that Giuseppe Orsi (former head of Finemeccanica) and Paolo Scaroni (former head of Eni) were actually paying “commissions”. Finmeccanica and Eni are Italian companies where the Italian government has significant stakes; therefore, the media often links the bribes paid by those companies to the corrupt practices of government officials. Both former CEOs denied any wrongdoing, but it’s unknown whether they appreciate such a form of public defence from Berlusconi, a politician who’s been heavily-involved in corruption scandals. Berlusconi’s political enemies used this opening to criticise him for “supporting corruption”, whilst current Prime Minister Mario Monti emphasised that his government has taken unprecedented measures to root out corruption. Given the fact that Mario Monti is a former employee of Goldman Sachs (a bank that often faced charges of corrupting government officials across the world), it’s safe to assume that both sides of the Italian political spectrum lack anti-corruption credentials.
18 February 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
Like it or lump it, Good Ol’ Silvio speaks the God-honest truth. You don’t have to agree with or like someone to acknowledge that. If you want to do business outside Western Europe or the Anglosphere, it’s best to include a hefty allowance for… ahem… “extraordinary expenses”. If one was dealing with Mobutu’s Zaïre or Batista’s Cuba (or any Good Ol’ Boy state in the Southeastern USA or some local “machines” in the Northeast (our local boss, Jerry Jennings, is smarter than that… he knows that a modest “return” ensures “repeat business”))… well, that “margin” could be very dear, indeed.