So companies have to choose between obeying international law that forbids bribery and actually managing to get business done. But while 50 bucks to keep a disgruntled customs officer happy is going to be overlooked, wiring $140 million to a certifiably insane dictator is generally frowned upon (at least if the dictator doesn't like us). So when SNC paid Gaddafi, they disguised the money with fake invoices. That was the smart part. The dumb part was literally everything else, including two people at the top of the company signing every single bullshit invoice.
"I realized that all of the Libya invoices (sent to the client, and also for expenses related to the client) were approved by the same two guys: our senior vice president and the vice president of finance. The thing with VPs is that they love telling everyone that they are too busy to do any actual work," he said. "To see someone running a division that makes over $3 billion a year signing checks to 'caterers' for $5,000, it didn't make any sense."
Salah Malkawi/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Remember Muammar, if anyone asks, the $15,000 was for cold cuts."
That's like if the chairman of the board was personally overseeing the janitor's supply of paper towels, only SNC was doing something far worse than secretly masturbating in the maintenance closet.