International, Russia - Written by on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 13:48 - 1 Comment

Trade ethically in Russia – it is possible…

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We are in (snowy) Moscow again.

The Bribery Act (and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) applies in Russia and Russia’s own anti-bribery laws are developing.

International businesses seeking growth are keen to invest.

However, a famous quote sums up the cynical view:

“Everyone knows, you have to pay!”

An increasing number of corruption investigations with a Russian connection back up the claim.

On the other hand, Russia is making strides to clean up its act.  It recently signed the OECD foreign bribery convention.  Similarly, there is an increasing frustration from the growing middle classes about corruption which even impacts on getting your child into Kindergarden.

But it does not have to be this way.

There are good news stories.

In a lengthy interview with William O’Rourke from Alcoa a key takeaway is that for those prepared to tough it out, it is possible to do business in Russia without paying bribes.  BP-TNK is another beacon of light in the context of putting in place and successfully implementing strong anti-bribery policies and procedures.

In addition, for those who read the Moscow Times there is a regular featured section with Western/international investors in Russia.

Staple questions include, how do you deal with Russian corruption – how does it impact you?

Those interviewed confirm that it is possible to do business in Russia without paying bribes.  Patience, building relationships and doing your homework are key messages for successful trading without bribery.  If official processes are followed and forms properly completed, interviewees report that they receive the permit, connection to the electricity supply etc. without bribery.

On the other hand, a lack of attention to detail, a tendency to cut corners, impatience with official timelines, a failure to properly research requirements for permits, licences and other requirements to obtain something you want set the scene for the demand for a bribe.

In Russia, anything is possible and, for example faced with the prospect of a delay flowing from an incorrectly completed form, you may be offered the option of making a payment to ‘overlook’ the problem or speed up the process.

Oscar Wilde famously said, I can resist anything but temptation.

The trick in Russia is how to avoid the temptation and ensure it is rejected if offered.

This week we will be looking at some tactics and tips to trade in Russia ethically.

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