One of the reasons why the logistics industry – and freight forwarding in particular – is so vulnerable to corruption is its close engagement with Customs officials. In the developing world government employees are often poorly paid, and there is an understanding that they will make their wages up from ‘facilitation’ payments made by forwarding and express companies to ensure fast clearance of goods. In many parts of the world, corruption is so deeply engrained within the system that it is simply seen as an operational cost to be absorbed within the cost of moving goods.
In any case Customs corruption is very much a two-directional problem. Not only do Customs officers attempt to solicit bribes, but they are also the targets of bribes from organised crime attempting to smuggle goods across borders and in some cases private sector companies; the involvement of the latter organisations is by far the most frequent as companies attempt to expedite slow and bureaucratic processes.