Over a career spent handling hundreds of millions of other people's money, the one key constant that has always allowed me to sleep at night is not once, ever, having stolen a penny of it, never having taken a bribe and never having succumbed to corruption. I have turned down everything from Wimbledon centre court tickets, cruises, hampers, Glasto tickets to thinly veiled offers of brown envelopes. My philosophy is don't even admit the thin end of the wedge; I was always clear with tenderers and subbies - the limit was an inexpensive working lunch. Not that I wasn't up for a drink - but when they put the company card behind the bar I'd add £20 of my own to the pot. Yes, scoff all you like - but I have a reputation for the very highest standards of stewardship of my clients' money, and I'm proud of it.
So reading today that Austrian government officials took bribes of £55m from Airbus simply disgusts me. The levels of public corruption here are very much greater than in the UK - every political and public actor from the Burgermeister upwards is suspect. Partly it's being in a half-beer half-wine country, partly it's the deeply corrupt culture of the EU. I now regard all public officials in Austria as potentially corrupt and deal with them accordingly.
The Austrian corrupt payments were the largest amongst Airbus' campaign of bribery, fraud and filthy money - all of which has now been swept under the carpet with no prosecutions for a €3.6bn payoff to the even more corrupt EU.
It stinks like week-old Mackerel. Dirty corrupt bastards.