What is the quickest way to put an end to a bribery prosecution? By paying a bribe, of course.
Although it may seem like something out of a satire, this is precisely what happened in Germany this week, when a Munich Court agreed to a staggering $100 million settlement to discontinue a prosecution against Formula One owner Bernie Ecclestone over the alleged bribery of a banker.
We will never know whether or not Mr. Ecclestone was guilty or innocent of the charge, but the incident has done much to highlight some of the fundamental conflicts existing in current anti-corruption enforcement worldwide, where the accused are almost always presumed guilty, and the defense counsel are getting used to settling instead of fighting.
Like many laws born out of politics, anti-corruption has become alarmingly mired in ambiguity, abuse, and misapplication.
In the United Kingdom, the introduction of the Bribery Act, in conjunction with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), means that now essentially the globe is covered with a bundle of vague principles and unfettered prosecutorial discretions that leaves multinational businesses dangerously exposed.