Risks of a Blind Eye to Foreign Ethics Violations

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One of the earliest fears of America's global economic efforts was culture clash and the consequential risks of foreign business practices that differ from ours.

Are Mexico, China, and India worth the risk?

Now, before I'm labeled Xenophobic, let me simply say America has enough problems with business ethics without taking on the fraud, abuse and corruption of other countries.

We have been in a never-ending battle fighting "crony capitalism" in recent decades and fighting the blind eye of industries supporting and favored by whomever is in power. Now overlay the known corruption of the China, the Communist icon of the world.

Mexico's drug cartel alone is responsible for over 50,000 killings in the last 10 years. Combine this with drug trafficking, human trafficking and corruption within the government and somehow a retailer's alleged greasing the palms of a few regulators seems almost innocent - overlooked there as easily as it is in too many American cities, states, and Washington, D.C.

And the latest...

India and then China recently announced that they'd continue buying oil from Iran, a country whose leadership was denounced by the U.S. for its human rights violations and support of terrorism. Isn't trading with Iran direct support of that regime?

Mexico, China, and India place us in an ethics dilemma of economics where we're forced to deal with terrorist-supporting, narcotics-generating, or human-rights-violating regimes.

So what's American business expansion worth?

Who cares, money is money, right?

Perhaps while Washington struggles with understanding military and humanitarian disconnects in the world, American business should also reflect on our core values and legal guidelines for making money. Only then can we engage in a rigorous risk assessment, risk appetite and risk management framework for doing business with adversarial, or at least dubious regimes.

To paraphrase wisdom a few thousand years old, "What profits a company if it gains country expansion, but loses its integrity?"

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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