From The Sunday Times

THE official from the Republic of Guinea barely batted an eyelid when the English lobbyist made a highly irregular offer over coffee in a Barcelona hotel. She wanted to buy Guinea’s vote at the forthcoming International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting with an aid package.

Rather than protest at this blatant bribery, Ibrahima Sory Sylla, the national director of fisheries for Guinea, got straight on the telephone to his deputy minister. “I spoke to him [the minister] positively about your bargaining,” he reported back over lunch later that day, “time is pressed … for us to make our decision.”

This was not a guarantee of success. The lobbyist had a formidable rival: the fisheries agency of Japan, which for years has been Guinea’s ally on the IWC.

Sylla had already outlined the extent of Japan’s generosity to Guinea in terms of the cash it paid to his minister. He predicted Japan would make a good counter offer.

Such backroom stitch-ups at the IWC have often been rumoured, but they have never before been captured on a video camera. The lobbyist was, in fact, an undercover reporter from the Sunday Times.