A bribe by any other name

The Bribery Act is everywhere at the moment – it even featured on “Today” on Radio 4 last Friday when it (the Act, not Radio 4) came into force.  A while ago, as a little interlude in a content-heavy training session, I asked some MLROs (Money Laundering Reporting Officers – as a group probably my favourite people in the world, followed by police involved in financial crime investigations) to come up with all the words they could for “bribe”.  This was prompted by the observation that the Bribery Act actually talks about “advantages” rather more than it talks about “bribes”.  And we can up with a long, long list.

Bribe (obviously – so no points there), advantage (ditto), bung (very red-top), sweetener (“Minder”), soap (Tony Soprano), enticement, allurement, honey money (not heard of that one myself, but I do like it), kickback, graft, gravy (ah – hence the gravy train), payola, grease, incentive…  And if you start going multi-lingual, the choices multiply: suay (Thai for “tribute”), duit kopi (Malay for “coffee money”) and khaa nam (Lao for “drink money”).

The sad conclusion is that – whatever it is called – the concept of the bribe is familiar to every culture and every nation.

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