The Culture Variable Vis-à-Vis Anti-bribery Law: A Grey Area in Transnational Corporate Criminal Liability

Research paper by Qingxiu Bu

Indexed on: 28 Oct '17Published on: 06 Oct '17Published in: European Business Organization Law Review


Cross-border transactions are generating corresponding globalisation of law enforcement efforts. Culture has significantly influenced the legal analysis of anti-bribery law. With the increase of transnational bribery, benefits from globalisation will be undermined unless an effective legal regime can mitigate the harm of bribery. It is perceived that corruption in China is more prevalent than in the West given its embedded place in Chinese culture. It is further alleged that Chinese multinational companies (MNCs) are taking advantage of an unlevel playing field, as they are not subject to stringently-enforced anti-bribery laws. This hypothesis creates a myriad of anti-bribery problems in terms of legislation and enforcement, which particularly manifest in China’s perceived cultural toleration of bribery. Cultural assumptions undermine the global anti-bribery regime and compromise potential collaborative anti-bribery efforts across jurisdictions in a rapidly globalizing world. The Chinese culture does not necessarily impede China’s criminalisation of paying bribes to foreign officials. It is argued that the cultural role should not be overestimated, otherwise the hazard of the ethnocentric engagement with the Chinese culture would affect the ability of foreign MNCs to integrate their global compliance programmes. Multinationals can only mitigate their exposure to criminal liability globally, provided that they comply robustly with anti-bribery laws of both home and host jurisdictions.