You might not think an Apple laptop is on the same level as a Cartier watch or an all-expenses-paid blowout in Morocco, but some authorities think different.
The laptop was mentioned in an international corruption investigation into whether brokers Tradition Financial Services ponied up big bucks to win the hearts (and the business accounts) of Libyan officials for investments that netted the firm millions.
Tradition, based in Switzerland with offices in London, is under scrutiny from The City of London Police as well as the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department. For American investigators, the rub is whether the gifts violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the 1977 act, it’s illegal to offer anything of value with the intent to bribe, whether it’s a trinket or a high-ticket item.
A $1,900 Apple laptop was given as a gift to Seif Gadhafi, a son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as part of a charm offensive by Robert Bailey, an American running Tradition’s equity-brokerage department. The other bribe booty under investigation includes a gold Cartier watch, a lingerie fashion show in London and a Moroccan vacation that sounds like a prequel to The Hangover.
Some perks are acceptable, according to The Wall Street Journal: “Businesses are allowed to provide some hospitality and pay some expenses for foreign officials, the Justice Department and SEC said in a guide to the law published two years ago. But gifts or payments can be considered bribes, the agencies said, if they appear to be given with ‘corrupt intent,’ which could be demonstrated by a pattern of gifts that are extravagant or payment for travel that is primarily for enjoyment rather than business.”
We’ve gotta wonder: If the gift in question were a run-of-the-mill PC rather than a shiny Mac laptop, would it still be under scrutiny?
Source: The Wall Street Journal.