Finns Advised on Bribery in Russia
Published: January 25, 2005 (Issue # 1038)
HELSINKI - Finnish authorities criticized a leading trade body on Friday for publishing a book giving advice on bribery for Finns doing business in Russia.
The book, titled "Russian Customs for Finns," gives examples of what kind of bribes can be given and how, seeking to aid businesses from a country known for its transparency. "If you have to give a bribe, it has to be done discreetly, definitely without external witnesses, or rather by using a Russian frontman," the book, published by the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce, quoted a Finnish businessman as saying.
The Chamber used a Finnish government grant to finance the publication the instruction book deeming it a necessary tabletop accessory for Finnish businessmen. Finland has been acknowledged as the world's least corrupt country in terms of business transactions by the Transparency Internatioanl organization.
Although the book was actually published two years ago, it provoked a scandal last Friday, when the authoritative Finnish daily Helsingin Sanoman cited a chapter from a book, in which Finnish businessmen discussed their experiences in bribing Russian officials.
"Of course you have to talk about the operating environment, but not like that," said Henrik Raiha, a senior official at the Trade and Industry Ministry, which provides some 20 percent of the organization's annual financing. "Now the reader gets the picture that you can't cope in Russia without bribing," he said.
A Chamber of Commerce spokesman defended the book, saying it "is a description about how real life is in Russia."
(Reuters, Mosnews, SPT)