An interesting article in The Conversation on 29th April is concerned with a study which found a strong correlation between luxury item expenditure and societal corruption. As well as the data analysed, it says, anecdotal evidence of the connection between corruption and luxury items is easy to find. It points out that, in countries where paying bribes to government officials to secure government contracts or operating licences is common practice, luxury goods are often used instead of direct monetary payments – such “gifts” do not leave a transaction trail so are less likely to result in legal action against corrupt officials. The analysis is said to cover all countries for which annual data on luxury spending per capita are obtainable, 2004 to 2014. The sample includes the major emerging economies (Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa) and major high-income countries (US, Japan and Germany). Collectively the 32 sample countries represent about 85% of the world’s GDP. The authors say that they agree with Transparency International that laws, policies and practices to combat the connection are underdeveloped. It points to China – in 2012, the government initiated plans to track corruption by looking at luxury goods ownership and, as a result, consumption of luxury goods fell from $93.48 billion in 2011 to $73.1 billion in 2014. It notes that, in Britain, for example, Transparency International reports that auction houses (such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s) filed just 15 of the total 381,882 SAR made to law enforcement authorities in one year, and that luxury goods dealers have too little motivation to ensure those buying their trinkets and toys are not using money gained corruptly.