“There are moral problems as well as legal problems that go far beyond simply the question of illegal payoffs to foreign officials.
“There are questions concerning the role of multinational corporations, the extent to which they have obligations to the countries in which they conduct their business, the extent to which they should seek to raise the standards of conduct there, the respect which they should show the laws of other countries.
“Indicative of the complexity of this problem was the suggestion by one clergyman stated in a New York Times article — that perhaps the gravest sin of a company, which had been exposed as making a multimillion dollar payment to the head of a Central American country to secure a reduction in tax level, was the harm inflicted upon the people of that country by channeling money into the hands of the ruler at the expense of tax revenues which would hopefully have been expended to alleviate the terrible poverty in that country.
“This is surely a dimension that most people have not considered, and yet, I think is a most important one for it may well involve an ethical consideration that is perhaps more meaningful and more important than the legal problems associated with the bribe itself.”
From a speech by A. A. Sommer, Jr., Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Commission, “Business Ethics and the Free Enterprise System ,” April 2, 1976.