The art of bribery: What not to do

Since the early ages, gold and money have been one of the easiest ways to seduce people, and, as Shakespeare said, gold can buy everything, including people’s professional ethics. The petroleum sector was struck by surprise after several cases of bribery and corruption were filed against a People’s Assembly member and top officials over the past few months.

One of the major and most recent cases that traumatized the public opinion was the bribery and information leak cases filed against Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) members, businessmen and a member of the People’s Assembly (PAM). The case goes back to last April when top EGPC officials were accused for releasing information and reports – classified as top secret – in return for money and gifts from clients who received special facilitations in the international bids held by EGPC over the last five years and acquired special areas for drilling and exploration.
Six EGPC officials and seven businessmen and managers, including the former CEO of Alex Oil Co. and PAM Emad El-Gelda were involved in this case. According to investigations, El-Gelda gave a LE137,000 car to EGPC vice president for agreements and explorations, Mohamed Dahy.
In 2002, EGPC offered the south Gulf of Suez and north and west October areas for exploration and drilling in an international bid. Through Dahy, El-Gelda succeeded to attain confidential information, technical reports and studies about the availability of oil in these areas. Dahy was the scene play maker of this case, as by his status in the company, he employed other EGPC officials to provide him with the needed information.
Last month, the court convicted 12 of the bribery charges and absolved one businessman who confessed. Sentences ranged from three to ten years of penal servitude. The court also suspended six of the EGPC directors, fined them $233,000 and confiscated the car in which the bribery took place, in addition to $71,000.
Charges also included the robbery of approximately half a million dollars from EGPC’s treasury through forged receipts and financial accounts of companies dealing with EGPC.
The first defendant, assistant to the vice president of EGPC for agreements and explorations was sentenced 10 years of penal servitude, three others including the assistant to EGPC’s general manager for Gulf of Suez Evaluation, EGPC general manger for exploration supervision and EGPC economic analysis manager were sentenced seven years, another defendant was sentenced five years and the remaining eight defendants, including El-Gelda were sentenced three years.
Three officials who confessed were released from bribery charges. However, two of them were condemned for facilitating the leak of vital EGPC documents, while the court absolved all charges for the third one.
In its rationale, the court said “bats of corruption have flocked together and sold their souls before their wares.”
EGPC’s case was not the sole ground-breaker over the past six months, bankruptcy, bribery and illegal profiting accusations were filed against some employees at Petrogas, Al-Nasr Petroleum Co. and Petroleum Marine Services Co. (PMS).

The People’s Assembly appointed a committee to investigate the case of importing foul gas valves by Petrogas Company which caused gas leaks and threatened citizens’ safety. As a first response towards the case, six managers were exempted from their financial and managerial privileges till the end of investigations.
Concerning Al-Nasr Petroleum Co., the head of the labs and chemical research at the Suez branch faces the charge of asking for and receiving an LE2 million bribe from the chairmen of Arab Office for Chemical Services and Rokin for Chemicals in order to get companies’ pricing lists in eight bids offered by Al-Nasr and being chosen for supplying 88 chemical equipments to the company.
As for the PMS case, the assistant to Chairman, vice president, technical affairs managers at PMS in addition to marine administration manager at Rashid Petroleum Co. and 10 other owners and representatives of foreign and local petroleum companies were involved in the trial. PMS officials were paid off by companies’ representatives in order to get reports about the high quality and efficiency of their equipments recommending the purchase or rental of these marine devices to PMS, or to acquire bids and contracts. According to the criminal court, the accused officials exploited their job duties and responsibilities to accumulate personal financial profit, which counted for more than LE2 million.

As a matter of fact, cases like these are found everywhere because work ethics are “intrinsic”; they come from within. Thus, even if managerial heads implant the traits of honesty, hard work, valuing what one does, having a sense of purpose and feeling/being a part of a greater vision or plan in the working environment, still it greatly depends on each employee’s personality to avoid bankruptcy and bribery. The previously discussed cases won’t be the last, yet with more firm regulations set by managerial heads and tight supervision over employees and work flow, they can be to some extent eliminated.

By Yomna Bassiouni


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