Bribery and Extortion: Undermining Business, Governments, and Security

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Bribery and Extortion: Undermining Business, Governments, and Security

By Alexandra Addison Wrage
Praeger Security International, 2007
176 pp. $44.95
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Bribery and extortion of and by officials are almost universal in developing countries and all too common in rich countries. The corporate lawyer Wrage documents numerous horror stories, drawing on published sources and on her own experience with TRACE, an antibribery nongovernmental organization. There is a sophisticated discussion of the transition from customary gift giving to modern bribery. And the sad tales have their humorous moments, as when traditional Chinese New Year's gifts of moon cakes, expected to contain nuggets of gold when given by foreign businesspeople, were exposed as a result of food poisoning. Bribery is often an impediment to development, although it sometimes may be necessary to lubricate systems constipated with regulations and punitive tax laws. Regardless, it is universally resented by the general public, even when it accepts bribery's inevitability. The author sees exposure as the best antidote -- making transactions with foreign or domestic public money as transparent as possible and raising the salience of bribery on the international agenda.