Bribe and Kick-Back Charges For Chinese Coca-Cola Employees

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Coca-Cola (KO) is being reminded how tricky doing business in China can be.

NYT: Coca-Cola Inc. said Tuesday that a second manager who worked in the company’s Shanghai bottling plant has been detained by police on suspicion of accepting bribes or kickbacks.

The announcement came just days after Coca-Cola confirmed that a middle manager at the same facility, the Shanghai Shenmei Beverage & Food Co., was detained earlier this year in a bribery investigation.

The details, including the amount of the bribes and kick-backs, are unclear. A media report in China said one of the shakedowns was worth $1.47 million.

That’s a lot less serious than other recent scandals. This summer, four Rio Tinto employees were detained on spying charges, which the mining giant strongly denies. China back-pedaled on accusations of espionage and a $100 billion swindle, but the employees remain in custody.

And California-based Control Components recently plead guilty in the U.S. to foreign bribery charges, agreeing to a $18.2 million fine for some 200 payments in 30 countries, many of which went to Chinese officials.

Of course, bribing officials in any country is a crime. But there’s a sense that China is getting particularly aggressive about cracking down on these things, probably after years of looking the other way — perhaps giving a rude shock to longtime players in the country who are used to a certain way of doing business.

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