Page 3 Dirty Deals; Rolling in Dough CNN August 11, 1999; Wednesday 8:30 pm Eastern Time HATTORI: Mead faces razor wire and armed guards now because of a business decision played out thousands of miles away. The Panama Canal was a deep channel of cash for Mead's company, Saybolt International. The Dutch firm made its money testing petroleum, analyzing oil, marking octane levels as the freighters moved from port to port from seller to buyer all over the world. Mead, a British citizen, lived and worked in New Jersey and headed Saybolt operations in the Western Hemisphere. In 1995, Saybolt had the petroleum inspection business pretty much locked up in the vital Panama region. But there was one big problem. MEAD: There was need of a new location to build an office and a lab complex. HATTORI: A critical need -- Saybolt's lab space was in jeopardy. The company had no long-term lease. The Panamanians could come in and shut down the operation at any time, putting nearly a million dollars in equipment and dozens of jobs at risk. A solution arrived on Mead's computer in early 1995. (on camera): The e-mails went back and forth between you and Mr. Dunlop (ph), the man in charge of the Panama project. MEAD: Correct. HATTORI (voice-over): At first, there was only good news. Quote -- "Note some extremely positive develop-ments taking place." Panamanian officials offered Saybolt a permanent lease to, a new lab site in the free trade zone, Dunlop wrote. Weeks later came the bad news. There was a string attached to the government's offer, a demand for money: a bribe. Saybolt's man in Panama writes to Mead, "As always in Latin America once the palms have been greased, all is possible." "The fee is $50,000 for the new lab site," the Panama chief writes. "If we pay, all is ours. If we don't, we get nothing. Welcome to the Third World." MARTIN WEINSTEIN, ATTORNEY: This is a classic situation. Usually what happens is that they get down the road in a transaction, they get very close to closing a deal, a request is made of them, and they make a bad judgment. HATTORI: Attorney Martin Weinstein advises multinational corporations on how to compete successfully and le-gally overseas. Of particular concern, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Passed 20 years ago, the law prohibits the payment of bribes to officials in other countries. Until recently, almost all other nations looked the other way, passing no laws to curtail international bribery. The end result, U.S. competitors could win big global contracts with payoffs, a business advantage American companies do without. WEINSTEIN: I think it's a very difficult situation. If you are a salesperson or a project manager, and your pay salary, your pay grade, your career, your whole future with the company can be determined on how well you do, if a company places that type of pressure on you, the -- the judgments that you have to make become very, very difficult. HATTORI (on camera): Is it like in the movies? Somebody shows up in a meeting room and passes an attache case and the money is exchanged? Or does it... WEINSTEIN: No. For the most part, for the most part, that scene is reserved for the movies. Most folks these days -- most individuals and government officials have some sensitivity to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. So while you may have instances where people want a payment, most of the time, a government official will want an interest in the joint venture project, a business opportunity, a campaign contribution, a job for a relative. HATTORI: If you were to take a globe and spin it and -- and randomly pick a spot in the world... NANCY BOSWELL (ph), TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL: You'd find corruption alive and well.