Not that anyone is surprised, but it transpires that FIFA – the world’s largest sporting body – is riddled with corruption. After two decades under Sepp Blatter the FBI have finally blown the whistle and decided to go after the footballing top brass for money laundering and various other corruption charges at an international level. It is likely that there will be sackings, resignations, and even the possible prison sentence or two. It makes the news but few are really interested in it, and our lack of real interest stems from our tired awareness of modern corporate and political culture. Greed and the lust for power have been for at least a century the driving forces behind what we have been taught to think of as success. The killer instinct has little need for morality or ethics precisely because private investors don’t reap the rewards of good behaviour, and neither do the powerful lobbyists behind the political elite. Corruption only becomes a ‘problem’ when it becomes news and the financial interests accrue reputational damage – often a threat to their money making abilities. This lack of concern is underlined in the penalties for those who have fallen foul of corporate business law.
We, down here in the real world of rent and bills, think that a sacking or a term in gaol is a mighty punishment only because such would be mighty punishing to us. Losing a job on the ground floor can have serious financial consequences. We could lose our homes and our families in the worst case scenario. For us the stakes are high. The same would be true of being sent to prison. What we may not always see is that the words ‘dismissal’ and ‘imprisonment’ do not mean the same to the magnates of corporate industry and the political establishment as they mean to ordinary, everyday people. When people ‘at the top’ lose their jobs or get sent down they still get to keep their massive bank balances and their multi-million dollar pensions. Neither is their property at risk. We call this absurdity punishment. This realisation made me think of how interesting it might be if we decided to reintroduce the Lex Romana – ancient Roman law. In particular I was thinking about the Lex Acilia Calpurnia (67 BC) which demands the forfeiture of all assets and the permanent exile and ban from public office of those found guilty of corruption.