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Offering contract for private gain

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Alexander was Manager of Planning in a real estate development firm and was responsible for recommending a contractor to conduct an environmental study.  He was considering Gamble, a small firm which had done outstanding work for the firm in the past.  Roy, a friend and representative of another larger environmental research firm, approached Alexander on the matter over a lunch appointment.  Alexander clearly stated that Gamble would possibly get the contract because of its satisfactory past performance, whereas Roy’s firm had a dozen other contracts to keep them busy.


Roy seemed disappointed but Alexander was glad when conversation turned to other topics.  Roy asked Alexander about the progress of his emigration plan.  In fact, Alexander’s wife, Zoe, had already gone to Canada with two sons to settle down first while Alexander would work a few more years in Hong Kong before joining them.  Roy mentioned casually that he had connections in Toronto and could help Alexander place his sons into the best local school though it might take some doing.  The school enjoyed a reputation for good results and easy access to the University of Toronto.  Alexander understood what Roy really meant.  He desperately wanted to make a head-start for his children and pave a smooth path for them.


Would Alexander commit any offence if he recommended Roy’s company in return for Roy’s help for his sons? What factors should Alexander consider when making the decision?

Case Analysis

It would be an offence of Section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) if Alexander, as an employee of the real estate development firm, without the approval from his employer, accepted advantages from Roy (i.e. Roy’s assistance in placing Alexander’s two sons into the best local school in Toronto) as a reward for helping Roy’s firm to get the business contract of environmental study.  Roy would also violate POBO for offering bribes.


Also, Alexander might violate his company’s code of conduct if he did not disclose his relationship with Roy to the management when there was conflict of interest. 


Apart from the aspects of compliance and company code of conduct, Alexander may also consider the following factors when identifying viable alternatives and choosing the best course of action:

  1. Does it correspond with his self-values such as honesty, compassion and responsibility?
  2. Can he disclose his decision to others openly and honestly without misgivings?


The ETHICS PLUS ethical decision making model might be helpful for him in solving the dilemma.

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