In prior posts, I have examined the increasing importance of anticorruption efforts and their significance for purposes of corporate governance. But a recent report by a global watchdog group suggests that not all governments are actively enforcing their anticorruption commitments, with potentially serious consequences for the developing world.
Transparency International describes itself as a “global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption.” Among other things, the group issues an annual progress report on the enforcement of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials.
On June 24, 2008, the group issued its 2008 Progress Report (here), which states that there has been a “dangerous stalemate on enforcement” and that “less than half” of the OECD Convention signatories “are living up to their commitments.” The report further states that while there has been “significant enforcement by 16 governments,” there is “little or no enforcement by 18 governments.”
The watchdog group is particularly worried about the “mixed message” that these uneven enforcement efforts may be sending. One commentator for the group is quoted as saying that “strong enforcement action against Siemens signaled to German business that foreign bribery will no longer be tolerated. But the backtracking of other countries, including the UK’s termination of an investigation into BAE Systems’ deals in Saudi Arabia, reinforces doubts about government commitment to enforce the Convention.”
The report leave no doubt about the importance of anticompetitive enforcement; as the report states, “compliance by signatory states is critical in draining the supply of bribe money that distorts public decision making in some of the world’s poorest states, with disastrous consequences for their citizens.”
Hat tip to the SOX First blog (here) for the link to the Transparency International report.
Siemens might not only have problems with the anticorruption laws, but also with its complexion, according to a June 24, 2008 Financial Times article reporting on comments from Siemens' current head, in an article entitled "Siemens is 'too white, German and male'" (here).
Another Options Backdating Securities Class Action Settlement: On June 24, 2008, Brooks Automation announced (here) that it had settled the securities class action lawsuit that was pending against the company and certain of its directors and officers. The defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit had previously been denied, as I discussed in a prior post, here. The case settled for $7.75 million dollars, all of which is to be paid by the company’s liability insurance carrier.
In any event, I have added the Brooks Automation settlement to my table of options backdating-related lawsuit dismissals, denials and settlements, which can be accessed here.
“Aggregator” Standing: Ordinarily this blog would not pause to comment on a “justiciability” case, at least one outside the context of directors and officers liability. But we found some of the commentary about the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 23, 2008 decision in Sprint Communications v. APCC Services (here) particularly interesting, and we thought we would pass it along for the benefit of those readers as interested as we are in procedural and jurisdictional matters.
George Washington University Law Professor Jon Siegel has a post on his blog Law Prof on the Loose (here) discussing the decision and the question whether “aggregators” who compiled the claims of payphone operators against long-distance carriers can demonstrate a sufficient injury to have standing to sue. The Supreme Court decided that they do. Siegel’s post does an interesting and humorous job explaining the case, the issues, and the decision, and he also explores the interplay between the majority and dissenting opinions. Read and enjoy.
Attention Deficit: We all suffered through those undergrad classes that seemed like they would never end, but the Chronicle of Higher Education has a June 20, 2008 article entitled “Short and Sweet: Technology Shrinks the Lecture”(here) reporting that after all these years, academia may finally be doing something about it.
Apparently, many Profs who have made their living droning on and on have finally seen themselves on video, as part of the effort to put their lectures on line. Appropriately enough, the experience seems to have been a wake-up call for many professors. As one Prof observed, “You wanted to kill yourself after about 20 minutes.” (I am not sure, but I think that particular Prof may have taught my Econ 101 class.)
So as part of their transition to online teaching, many professors are breaking their sessions into 20-minute segments. I guess the 20 minute time frame was selected to minimize the number of boredom-induced suicides.
At least some of the professors have managed to make the mental leap: “Shorter may work better in the classroom, too.” Tragically, this breakthrough comes too late to benefit the current generation, but at least our children and grandchildren can hope for a better tomorrow.