Corruption: It’s A Guy Thing?

Read an absolutely fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal on Gambian airline safety. The article is entitled, In Africa, Aviation Woes Defeat a Zealous Watchdog, and its focus is on apparently trumped up corruption charges against aviation reformer, Ms. Maimuna Taal-Ndure. Gambian Solicitor General Henry Carrol, “described Ms. Taal’s indictment as an “action of the government in fighting corruption.” Ms. Taal, he added, “was fighting with everyone and being very arrogant. Women in high offices do that a lot. They tend to be arrogant and bully men.”

The very same WSJ issue also has an article, entitled, “Shanghai Industrialist Sentenced For Embezzlement and Bribery,” on the provisional death sentence handed down to Wang Chengming, former chairman of Shanghai Electric Group Co., for “collective embezzlement and taking bribes.” Of course it is a male.

I have been living in or doing business with corrupt countries for over thirty years and one of the things I have noticed is corruption far more often runs with men than with women. I have a number of clients who are so convinced of this that they favor hiring women in emerging market countries.

I once had a client who was offered a major fishing concession by the Gambia. This client researched the hell out of the project and determined he would be able to secure at least a 100% return on his investment, assuming no need to make improper payoffs and no chance of having his business confiscated by the government. However, due to a complete lack of confidence in the truth of these two assumptions, he chose not to go forward with the project.

So am I right to think corruption is overwhelmingly a male phenomenon? Is this true in China? If so, why? I realize men hold more positions of power, but even on a percentage basis my experiences tell me women are far less corrupt. Do you agree? Is it sexist even to postulate this?

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