A billionaire real estate developer from Macau has gone on trial in the United States, accused of bribing two United Nations ambassadors.
Ng Lap Seng, 69, has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he paid $2 million to the two ambassadors to help him build a huge conference centre in Macau. His defence team is arguing that the money was paid for philanthropic reasons, as the UN ambassadors had sought his help to finance the centre.
The trial is likely to focus on China's dealings with the United Nations and on the defence claims that the prosecution is a political ploy by the US government to curb China's influence over developing countries.
What information comes out in the courtroom, in what is expected to be a six-week trial, remains to be seen. The one certainty is that there would be no prosecution if no payments had ever been made. And if the defendant had had in place strong anti-bribery procedures, it is likely those payments would not have been made.
Whatever the intentions were for those payments – legal or otherwise – a strong compliance policy would have prevented them being made, thus avoiding all the resulting problems. As we have written on a number of occasions, companies without proper compliance are taking risks that are not worth taking.
Read our article: BITTER PILL