Multinational companies regularly hire agents and fixers to help them win lucrative business in complex or unfamiliar environments. These intermediaries provide introductions, intelligence and an on-the-ground presence in far-flung lands. Sometimes they also serve as conduits for bribes.
A BBC investigation has concluded that a recent oil deal in Senegal showed signs of the potential for controversy and possible corruption. As a result, a businessman dogged by ethics questions will walk away with hundreds of millions. What can we learn from this unfortunate turn of events?
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) sit at the center of economic decision-making in many countries worldwide. Some have thrived, but many suffer from commercial and governance challenges. SOEs in the oil and gas sector have proven particularly prone to governance issues.
Due to the large sums of money involved, subcontracting carries risks. Procurement deals are less visible and more numerous than the high-profile processes used to award exploration and production rights, and they are harder for government regulators, the media and civil society to scrutinize. They are therefore a common node for corruption.
Management of Cambodia’s natural resources is opaque and growing restrictions on civic space mean that communities and civil society groups have few opportunities to engage with the government or companies on critical issues, such as how the impacts of mining on local people are managed or how revenues are used.
Increasing transparency as well as business and civic engagement in government contracting are powerful ways to craft better agreements, improve public services, deter fraud and corruption, build trust and promote a more competitive business environment. A new report from NRGI and the Open Contracting Partnership details how to do it.
Journalists confront informal and regulatory obstacles. In many cases, private companies and the government prevent media from accessing existing sources of free information. This may take the form of lengthy response times, publicly exposing information requests and managing the approval of how information is presented publicly.