My Recommendation Is: Don't Pay...Ever
Sept. 5, 2014, Baltimore, Maryland: What should you do if someone in a foreign country asks you to pay a bribe?
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
One of the presenters at last week's Retire Overseas Conference spoke about bribery and corruption overseas.
I read statistics recently from a relevant study in Ecuador. Something close to 80% of the people surveyed had at some time been asked either directly or indirectly for a bribe when dealing with an Ecuadorean government official. The survey didn't stipulate what kind of official—could have been anything from a police officer to a clerk in a government office or a minister.
The more interesting thing for me was that, according to the study, of the people who were asked for a bribe by a government official but refused to pay, some large percentage still got what they wanted. Further, a not insignificant percentage of people who did pay the bribe when asked did not get what they wanted.
Paying and still not getting what you're after would be frustrating. What recourse would you have? You couldn't go to the guy's boss and complain, saying, in effect, "I paid this guy to do something for me that he shouldn't have done...and he didn't do it."
Most retirees living in a foreign country won't ever encounter a direct request for a bribe. The exception might be a request from a traffic cop about to issue you a citation, for example. Otherwise, unless you are doing business in a country, you are, again, very unlikely to have to grapple with this issue.