Huang Yubiao is a billionaire “construction worker” (or tycoon) in China. He recently decided to go into politics having failed earlier last year to get a seat in China’s national parliament. According to the Times he asked what the going rate was to bribe his way onto one of the 768 seats in Hunan’s local Provincial People’s Congress.

According to the Times he was advised that the equivalent of about £100 was the going rate and bribed 320 delegates. Lamentably he did not win a seat so he promptly demanded that all those he had bribed return their “donations” which apparently every single one of them did!

Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, is overloaded with comments about this travesty. Many are asking what Yubiao should have paid. Apparently other candidates were offering twice as much in bribes. Others are asking whether Yubiao was too busy to even bother to meet the delegates he had bribed. Some are even daring to question the morality of returning a bribe!

Maybe there exists an insurance market for bribes in China but it seems that Huang Yubiao had enough clout not to have to resort to it.

Could failed bribe collections or insurance be genuine new business opportunities for bankers? After all, estimates for the value of global backhanders and bribes are currently circling around a trillion US dollars so it looks a tempting market.

Unfortunately for those seriously considering it as a new business opportunity it is probably illegal no matter what jurisdiction you are in just as covering your bribes with bets in bit-coins on TOR via an illicit gaming house would be. Come to think of it that sounds familiar. Maybe the deals could be packaged and securitised and sold on by investment bankers to municipalities, pension funds, charities et al?

This article was first published on 29th January 2013.

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