International - Written by on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 16:31 - 0 Comments

WikiLeaks & government, strange bedfellows? When it comes to business, maybe not.

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WikiLeaks is front page news and under attack.

At the time of writing the website is back up and running after reportedly being subjected to massive denial of service attacks and pulled by its US webhost.



It is publishing revelations from confidential cables passing within the US government diplomatic service which are embarrassing for the US government and which are being widely reported in mainstream media.

Hillary Clinton has been busy apologising to leaders of various nations and others the subject of some informal (not very) diplomatic critical comment which was never intended to see the light of day.

Except that it did.

Hillary Clinton is reported to have said that WikiLeaks is ‘endangering innocent people’ and that ‘[the] disclosures are not just an attack on American foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community.’

With these strong words and WikiLeaks self proclaimed bio: “We open government” it’s hard to see how WikiLeaks and government could ever be aligned.

On the same page?

And yet…WikiLeaks objectives turn out to be very similar to the US DOJ and UK prosecution authorities.

WikiLeaks is all about transparency.

Speak to the UK Serious Fraud Office and they will tell you that the new UK Bribery Act can be summed up in one word.  Transparency.

In London, in a rare interview, Julian Assange WikiLeaks founder told Andy Greenberg of Forbes magazine that half of its material relates to the private sector and that WikiLeaks is planning more exposés in the corporate world.  Assange told Andy Greenberg:

“With regard to these corporate leaks, I should say: There’s an overlap between corporate and government leaks…..There’s no megacorruption–as they call it in Africa, it’s a bit sensational but you’re talking about billions–without support from Western banks and companies.”

On business ethics he had this to say:

“WikiLeaks means it’s easier to run a good business and harder to run a bad business, and all CEOs should be encouraged by this……It just means that it’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more effected negatively by leaks than honest businesses. That’s the whole idea. In the struggle between open and honest companies and dishonest and closed companies, we’re creating a tremendous reputational tax on the unethical companies.”

“WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical.”

When it comes to business ethics, it’s hard to draw a distinction between what Julian Assange has to say and what Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the criminal division of the US Department of Justice, said in Washington a couple of weeks ago. We posted on Lanny Breuer’s speech then. Here is an extract:

“I am also aware, however, of much less thoughtful commentary. For example, there are some who have suggested recently that FCPA enforcement is “bad for business.” To me, this is a little like saying that our public corruption prosecutions are “bad for government.” It’s exactly upside down. As Attorney General Holder explained to an audience earlier this year, bribery in international business transactions weakens economic development; it undermines confidence in the marketplace; and it distorts competition.”

“So let me be perfectly clear about the Justice Department’s views on that topic: FCPA enforcement is not bad for business; it is, instead, vital to ensuring the integrity of our markets. Our FCPA enforcement program serves not only to hold accountable those who corrupt foreign officials, but in doing so it also serves to make the international business climate more transparent and fair for everyone. FCPA enforcement both roots out foreign corruption and deters it from taking hold in the first place.”

How long will it be before an FCPA or UK Bribery Act investigation is brought off the back of WikiLeaks exposé?

We recommend all organisations read the Forbes article about WikiLeaks and the transcript of the Julian Assange interview.

Whistleblowing just got web 2.0.

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