Thursday, February 03, 2022

The Corruption Tango (Part 2 Cease and Desist)

Part 2 of The Corruption Tango

II. Cease and Desist


I was piqued by a little commented-upon story the other day
Well it was a while ago, a little illustration of the games people play

It happened in the shadow of a tragedy you might have heard in the news
It concerned the dealings of a company that rhymes with Baker Hughes

Baker Hughes then being the world's third-largest oilfield services company
You'd no doubt hear its name in the same breath as other high flying somebodies

Like the more notorious Chevron, Exxon, or say Haliburton
Oil and gas services icons and so forth, etcetera, anon

The company's slogan they extol, I must say, is quite endearing:
Core values of integrity, teamwork, performance and learning

Indeed Baker Hughes completed 100 years of corporate history in 2007
It's a wonderful company, Texas-raised, Katrina relief, volunteer heaven

It couldn't have been good to be front and center in the New York Times
Luckily for them, a couple of fallen towers had changed the headlines

The following passage has to be one of my favourite illustrations
Of the corruption tango's reach, and enduring vexations

In an action that was filed on September 12, 2001,
And received little attention at the time, (imagine that?)
Baker Hughes agreed to a cease-and-desist order
Issued by the Securities and Exchange Commision, which said that
It had (repeatedly) violated the Corrupt Practices Act
By bribing an official in Indonesia.

That cease-and-desist order appeared to have had little impact
On the company's behavior, (they stayed on the wrong track)
The S.E.C. action filed Wednesday indicated
It said the payments in Kazakhstan and Angola
Went on from 1998 to 2003, while those to an agent
Involved in securing business in Russia
And Uzbekistan went on from 1998 to 2004, and payments in Indonesia
Went on from 2000 to 2003. Payments in Nigeria
Were made from 2001 to 2005, the S.E.C. said.

In 2003, the company initiated an investigation,
But, the S.E.C. said, it did not uncover some of the violations,
Which allowed them to continue. (End of digression)

Now we shouldn't tar the company with a broad brush for the sins of bad apples
As we surely know that there are rogue elements in the wild, at any level

We need to tread carefully with allegations of insider trading
The bezzle takes a plethora of forms, not least self dealing

It's a matter of concern that culture can undermine the sinews
Far be it to attack the company that rhymes with Baker Hughes

There is a serious commitment to governance, audit, ethics and the environment
I need not say more, there are vast quantities of material on their web site

And, of course, all companies are made out of people in reality
And there are only people behaving, and sometimes, behaving badly

Go back to the founders, Howard Hughes senior's name adds color to the dance
James Ellroy made American Tabloid pulp out of the sleaze of the son

Heck I know some of those characters, the company's storied alumni include Red Adair
Good old John Wayne depicted him in a great b-movie as a prized hellfighter

So distinguished is the composition of its board, it isn't funny
I guess it's plainly obvious that Big Oil attracts Big Money

Check the resumes: Big Banks, Big Real Estate, and Big Property
Curriculum vitae: Imperial Tobacco, Big Insurance, Big Industry

Big Politics, former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel, Syria, the Pentagon
Big Men, Generals and Comptrollers of the U.S. Army, Federal Credit Unions

Needless to say the lineup of shareholders and executives are storied
How then could they possibly be out of compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley?

With that kind of oversight, no one should ever question their integrity
I only mention the story to highlight the interplay, the weakness of humanity

The logic of capitalism: the perverse incentives for those in the know
It is no secret, after all, that it takes two to do the corruption tango


J. Kofi Aryee dance

Cease and Desist: A Playlist


A soundtrack for this note
See also: The Corruption Tango: A Playlist

The Corruption Tango


A dance in four movements.
  1. A Touch of Sleaze
  2. Cease and Desist
  3. The Temptation of Black Gold
  4. The World's Lawyer
I nominate this internal displacement for The Things Fall Apart series under the banner of Fallen Angels.

Next: Part 3 The Temptation of Black Gold

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Writing log: Concept: July 7, 2005; March 9, 2021

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