As painful as it may be for the ego of Chileans, we are a society with blindness problems. Until very recently (and this is still generally the case), Chileans did not want to see and we thought, candidly, that in Chile everything worked well and nothing happened in the high spheres of business.
“Above all, in the cases of corruption in the high political spheres of the country, with irregular financing in campaigns and others, where in addition, many private companies and “controlling owners” have had an incidence in the execution of bad practices.”
However, 2015 and the little that goes of 2016, have been periods soaked with “uncoverings” and bad business practices, where we knew at least 10 cases, between bribery, collusion, influence peddling, and malpractices involving both the country’s business elite, as well as politics.
And the fact is that, for some time now, from La Polar to what happened recently with Sergio Jadue, have led citizens to be informed and much less tolerant. Today, fortunately, there is a little more clarity as to what is right and wrong: if before ignorance and the answer “I did not know” were forgiven, today such a refutation is inadmissible.
Especially in cases of corruption in the high political spheres of the country, with irregular financing in campaigns and others, where many private companies and “controlling owners” have had an incidence in the execution of bad practices.
And the fact is that, when studying the relationship between business and political corruption, these are tremendously linked; this is how all the cases have started in neighboring countries, where businessmen have come to manage various spheres of local governments.
The reasons behind this renewed attitude of Chileans can be explained in several ways. In addition to having more open eyes, today we have a more proactive National Economic Prosecutor’s Office, which works intensively and effectively on this type of crime. However, beyond the fact that we are denouncing what “makes noise”, we are still local and not globalized.
For example, we learned about the bad practices of CMPC and SCA at the end of 2015; and today we have been hit by the collusion case of the supermarket chains Cencosud, SMU, and Walmart, accusing them of having participated in an agreement to fix, through their suppliers, a minimum selling price for fresh chicken meat. A case that, with the uncovering of the “chicken collusion” that took place a couple of years ago. However, nobody pronounced themselves on the matter.
Concrete measures to be taken? Work must be done to overcome the flaws in the system of incentives and training of employees in Chilean companies. There is a need for an important improvement, especially in the area of business education. It is not enough just to supervise, but it is also key to educate to prevent, a point in which the boards of directors and top management of the companies have the main responsibility for not aligning incentives with good practices.
And not only them but also the government must take action on the matter, since putting a low “price” on the sanction may even make it convenient for the company to “misbehave”.
The final call is to open our eyes and be alert: in Chile and the world thousands of things are happening that affect us all, daily, and each one of us, as individuals, are an active part of this society and co-responsible for stopping bad practices in business.
Por Susana Sierra