Monday, September 04, 2006

Is corporate entertainment acceptable bribery?

Recipients of lavish corporate entertainment never admit that they can be compromised by freebies.

The acceptable form of bribery is big business and there are plenty takers from wealthy medical consultants to researchers who just might drop a hint on some interesting work to a hedge fund manager during a trip to a strip club or whatever.

At a local Irish level, conflict of interest issues seems to be an abstract issue to many people including politicians.

It’s extraordinary that a public tribunal investigating planning corruption, has been sitting since 1997 when the present government combination came to power. Lawyers have become multimillionaires in the interval and surprise, surprise, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has been done to change the system that fuelled the corruption!!

Last week a Fianna Fail councillor was at the centre of a political storm for accepting free Ryder Cup tickets from a property developer.

In a u-turn, Councillor Maire Ardagh finally decided to reject an offer of corporate hospitality worth thousands of euro from the country's biggest home builder.

The wife of Fianna Fail TD Sean Ardagh, who is also a chartered accountant, gave into the pressure after she said that she planned to attend the golfing event as a guest of Menolly Homes.

A spokesperson for Sean Ardagh said his wife had now "declined the tickets".

Menolly Homes, which paid former Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor IR£40,000 to get a better postal address for its homes, offered several South Dublin councillors the tempting gifts of Ryder Cup tickets and corporate hospitality.

Mrs Ardagh was the only councillor to admit accepting the offer, saying she was "delighted to go" and didn't see any conflict of interest.

However, fellow councillors were reported to have said, it could result in "suspicion" or be "misconstrued", and that accepting it was possibly contrary to ethics rules.

Global corruption rampant; Corporate entertainment the new bribery in Developed World