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What is bribery: The Wipro code

January 13, 2009 18:54 IST
Last Updated: January 13, 2009 20:29 IST

IT major Wipro [Get Quote] understands clearly the difference between a bribe and 'facilitating payment' and is not averse to giving gifts "in the normal course of business" provided that these do not exceed $50.

"A contribution or entertainment should never be offered under circumstances that might create the appearance of an impropriety. Some very modest gifts with a value not exceeding $50 or equivalent currency, appropriate to give in the normal course of business practice may be acceptable," the company says in its code of business conduct and ethics.

Wipro, banned for four years from doing business with the World Bank for offering improper benefits to its employees, has questioned the global lender's decision saying it had done nothing wrong. 

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In its code, the company says there is a clear distinction between bribe - a practice of corruptly giving a thing of value in exchange for gaining advantage in favour of the giver or any other person - and 'facilitating payment'.

It defines 'facilitating payment' as "payment of money to expedite a routine governmental action to which the giver is otherwise entitled to.

After the World Bank made its decision of 2007 to debar the company for four years, Wipro had said in a statement that it had offered the staff of the global lender shares under a plan approved by the authorities.

It is important for the employees to understand the difference between bribe, which it said was a strict-no, and facilitating payment, the code said, adding that even the latter is discouraged in the company. 

The company's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, posted on its website, calls for it to comply with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corrupt payments for obtaining or retaining business.

The code also says that "Wipro will only obtain and conduct business legally and ethically. The quality of our products and the efficiency of our services at the most competitive prices is our greatest tool in marketing our business."

"We should ensure that third parties do not violate Wipro's policies and should never give, offer, or authorize the offer, directly or indirectly (proxy bribing), of anything of value (such as money, goods or service) to any third party including government official to obtain any improper advantage."

Offerings of items that cost up to $50 are acceptable if they meet the following criteria: "They are consistent with accepted business practices. They do not violate applicable law. They cannot be reasonably construed as payment or consideration for influencing or rewarding a particular decision or action. Their public disclosure would not embarrass Wipro."

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