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Matt Levine

Stay Away From the Master of Kickbacks

Also cashless SPACs, Facebook’s new name, retail uranium and 705742.

If you are a big international bank and you are hired to arrange financing for the government of Mozambique to fund a project involving fishing boats, and the government officials on the deal say “hey, you know what, when you raise half a billion dollars from investors for this project, instead of sending the money to an official government account, why don’t you wire it directly to our shipbuilding contractor in Abu Dhabi, they’ll handle … a few … transactions for us,” it’s a good idea for you to do due diligence on that contractor, check them out, see what they’re all about. Ideally the due diligence report will come back saying “yes, that contractor is great, the guy in charge is an upstanding character who does scrupulous work for various government projects and everyone he works with vouches for his integrity.” But it will not say that! Come on. It will say this:

Yeah I mean those are probably endorsements on his LinkedIn. That’s probably his job description on LinkedIn, “Master of Kickbacks at Self-Employed.” If you’re in the business of shortstopping nine-figure payments between big investment banks and emerging-market governmental projects, you are almost necessarily in the business of diverting a big chunk of those payments for bribes. Here: