Pocketless Trousers to Protect Against Bribery

I wonder if it will work.

Nepal’s anti-corruption authority has come up with a novel solution to rampant bribe-taking at the country’s only international airport—the pocketless trouser.

The authority said it was issuing the new, bribe-proof garment to all airport officials after uncovering widespread corruption at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.

Posted on July 6, 2009 at 1:30 PM48 Comments


aikimark July 6, 2009 1:59 PM

That man/woman/child over there might put in a good word for you. (third party bribe-takers)

Loved the stripper comment.

Ethan July 6, 2009 2:14 PM

Let’s kill two birds with one stone: The TSA and Nepal can fix both airport security and bribery by taking a cue from Air New Zealand and issue body paint (with mandatory clothing removal) at the door for all staff, crew, and passengers.

Peter July 6, 2009 2:18 PM

This sort of maneuver was done in past centuries for stevedores (now called “longshoremen”). Back when a pocketful of spices was more than a year’s wage for people, prohibiting the folks unloading ships from having pockets reduced their ability to pilfer.

Randy July 6, 2009 2:24 PM


But if that doesn’t work…couldn’t they just put the money down their pants?


Humberto Massa July 6, 2009 2:27 PM

@Randy: or in their socks?? (down here in Brasil it’s an old TV joke the hillbilly-type guy who has a big roll of money tucked in his socks)

Jared Lessl July 6, 2009 2:29 PM

Wear a pair of boxers or light shorts underneath that do have pockets. Heck, I have a couple of sleeveless t-shirts with breastpockets.

Alternatively, just wear tight briefs and stuff whatever it is down your pants. The solution there is to issue custom-fitted, form-hugging uniforms that you can’t hide anything in, which as it happens is #130 on the Evil Overlord List!

Tom M July 6, 2009 2:50 PM

Don’t want them to put away any cash? Just make them work nude. The same solution also works against carrying weapons onto airplanes.

MarvinK July 6, 2009 3:26 PM

I bet they can still manage to put money somewhere… even nude! 😉

I guess they could always get that searched at the end of their shift. Seems like that requirement should come with a pay increase!!

anonymous gangster July 6, 2009 3:33 PM

In the movie “American Gangster” ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765429/ ), Frank Lucas had his employees who processed his heroin work naked, to prevent them from stealing his product.

Huey Lucas: Why they all naked?
Frank Lucas: So they can’t steal nothin’.

M July 6, 2009 3:48 PM

Actually, this seems to me to be a reasonable thing to try.

I remember working for a movie theater one year as a summer job. The theater-issued pants had no pockets. I was (and am) convinced that this was to reduce pilfering by employees. Made me furious that I had to keep my wallet in a locker.

Patrick G. July 6, 2009 3:55 PM

Aren’t most employee’s uniforms in fast food joints and similiar places without pockets for years?

Well didn’t help much with people (like me) getting free food from their friends working there, all the time.

Good old times for me…
…and good new times for all my friends who got real jobs now. 😉

mcb July 6, 2009 4:18 PM

The workarounds are painfully obvious and not without their own downsides. Back in the day we had a case of pilferage where the offending employee hid stolen cash in her underwear. Like people sometimes do, she lost bladder control during her interview and interrogation, shortly before she told us where she’d hidden the money…

Cpragman July 6, 2009 4:23 PM

If the trousers still have waistbands, then the problem isn’t solved.

Perhaps Star Trek jumpsuits would do the trick.

Trevor Stone July 6, 2009 4:38 PM

Women with fashionable pocketless dresses have been keeping valuables in their brasseries for years. A guy wearing a bra would have even more room for cash

Andrew July 6, 2009 5:37 PM

Smocks have been the default garb in cash vaults for many years now for much the same reason. Kiestering has certain drawbacks especially with paper currency.

Not Anonymous July 6, 2009 6:02 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if this worked really well. Sure, they can still accept bribery money, but it gets quite a bit more complicated. If some other person is involved like aikimark proposed, then not only does this require far more coordination, but that person might just want some of the money, too. The other alternative, stuffing the money into underwear, is not quite as unsuspiciuos, people often have their hands in their pockets in public, but usually not in their underwear.

sooth sayer July 6, 2009 6:24 PM

Why not just inflate the currency that anything less than a wheel-barrow worth is not worth taking!

Fabian July 6, 2009 7:14 PM

Casino’s still do this today. I worked in one for 6 years as a croupier and all our pants were pocketless for exactly the same reason, so you couldn’t pocket chips off the table (easily).

Brian July 6, 2009 7:50 PM

This is done at McDonald’s. In most locations if you see someone with pockets, it’s a manager.

Davi Ottenheimer July 6, 2009 8:38 PM

When I tried to leave the Kathmandu airport in 1991, I was given an armed escort by several officials into a side office. There I was greeted by a group of heavily armed officers and a man seated at a desk. I was informed that my visa had expired “early” and US$20 was immediately owed to remain in the country. I started to protest but as the plane waited on the tarmac and I was surrounded by militants I saw little point in continuing. I handed over the money, which quickly went into a desk drawer. Then, after a wave of the seated man’s hand, four of the men walked me out to a military jeep just aside the airport terminal. Top down and guns pointed to the three sides we rode together to the plane. They said namaste as I climbed the stairs and entered to an audience of wide-eyed spectators. At that point I realized it was probably one of the best 20 I ever spent.

Davi Ottenheimer July 6, 2009 8:44 PM

Oh, and not to be overly cynical but based on my time studying power there the statement

“issuing the new, bribe-proof garment to all airport officials”

probably means that someone in the garment business has a relative in office or just bribed an official enough to win an anti-bribing pants contract (that was just created) for airport officials.

BD July 6, 2009 11:03 PM

In other news, sales of the recently released “Boxers with Pockets” quintuple in one week.

Graeme Teesdale July 7, 2009 12:06 AM

Here in the UK, it was broadcast on national tv show, Nepalese underpants/briefs with a pocket on the front. Would seem that they have been ‘out-innovated’ already!

bob July 7, 2009 1:29 AM

@ Graeme Teesdale

My briefs already have a pocket on the front. It’s for carrying something other than bribes, though.

Clive Robinson July 7, 2009 3:00 AM

I’m surprised not to see something along the lines of,

“There must be something thong about this idea”


“In shorts this is not going to work”


“As an in vest ment it appears pointless unless somebody is lining their pockets”

Or any of the other miriad of jokes that various under garments could give such as,

“Where the contractors jockying to support the idea”

Clive Robinson July 7, 2009 3:12 AM

@ Andrew,

“Kiestering has certain drawbacks especially with paper currency.”

Not being that familier with US expressions it took me a moment to realise,

That the problem you outline does indeed add a new definition to “money laundering”.

anonymous July 7, 2009 5:23 AM

@anonymous gangster and M – thanks for the collective laugh …

Huey Lucas: Why they all naked?
Frank Lucas: So they can’t steal nothin’.
M: Actually, this seems to me to be a reasonable thing to try.

BF Skinner July 7, 2009 6:09 AM

@Ethan “issue body paint”

“…died of skin suffocation. It’s been known to happen to cabaret dancers. It’s all right as long as you leave a small bare patch at the base of the spine to allow the skin to breathe.”

I was wondering how soon someone would propose the next logical step to have bribe takers nekkid. 2nd post. All ya’ll never disappoint.
It’s only fair they get to see all us in the nuddie with thier new detectors.

@Kashmare – No Trevor means a “bro”

@M – Once sat having a beer at the Heartland Brewery on Union square watching the crowd walk by and being young was thinking about what they’d look like naked. I had an ephiphany – the horror – the horror – thank god for clothing! What it covers up we really really don’t want to see.

It’s one thing if your employees are nubile young humans in good shape quite another if they’re old irish guys lugging 100 extra pounds. (and quite another for the kinds of optional things people wear in New York to make ’em feel special)

OK Now July 7, 2009 6:18 AM

Actually, there is reason to think that this approach might work. In many schools, when they switch to uniforms, they have fewer behavior problems. The clothing is a constant reminder of the rules and authority of the school. In some stores, they have put up cardboard cutouts of police officers, and seen a reduction in theft. Again, it is a reminder; it has a subtle but real psychological effect.

So the pocketless pants might be a reminder to the employees at the airport that the anti-corruption authority is focusing on them.

Swatne July 7, 2009 8:50 AM

I flew out of this airport a number of years ago and had a heck of a time getting on the flight. I argued with the gate agent and he kept insisting my ticket was for ‘tomorrow’s flight’. Eventually I got on the flight (another story), but it never occured to me that slipping him a few dollars would secure my seat. I should have known though. As an American, the entry visa (bought at the border), was $100 – when the sign clearly listed the price as $35. There was no getting around that either – I paid.

Clive Robinson July 7, 2009 10:22 AM

@ Davi Ottenheimer, Swatne,

“As an American, the entry visa (bought at the border), was $100 – when the sign clearly listed the price as $35.”

I have had similar probs when working in the oil industry.

The solution that I ended up using was not to have currancy they wanted (or in the case of one African country a letter of credit on a major bank) and have the hotel book a cab to pick me up.

In most cases they gave up when they realised the “white man with devils hair” did not have money or valuables (appart from a large quantity of AA batteries that just kind of got left behind each time 🙂

The worst of the lot however was Turkey they wanted US Dollars or Stirling not the local currancy and were peaved when I said I had not got either. After a stand off lasting about half an hour they finally gave up and agreed but wanted commission, I said I needed a recipt and so it started again. After a while the manager finaly turned up and I explained that I was quite happy to pay but must have a recipet for the correct amount as it was the law in the EU. The arm waving commenced again and lots of passengers started to stand around and watch.

Eventually a very senior manager turned up and after more arm waving etc they took the local currency and gave a recipt, for some strange reason nobody mentioned the commission in front of him…

Peter July 7, 2009 10:41 AM

Talking with a friend last nite, this subject came up, and they had worked at one of the larger “ministries” in Colorado Springs. The folks who work in the mail room are also issued non-pocket clothing to wear, as lots of letters with currency show up every day. If the donations only showed up with check or money orders, there would be no problems, but since they get envelopes with hundreds and thousands of dollars in cash, many folks would be tempted sorely to remain honest.

These are the places that require a “testimony of faith” for your employment application, which is like an SF86, but for religion (sample: list every church you’ve attended for the last 15 years, with the name and current phone number of the minister who knew you there).

zilla July 7, 2009 1:57 PM

Is this the reason women’s clothing never has useful pockets? Learn something new every day…

zilla July 7, 2009 1:57 PM

Is this the reason women’s clothing never has useful pockets? Learn something new every day…

BF Skinner July 8, 2009 6:25 AM

“In some stores, they have put up cardboard cutouts of police officers”

Heard on NPR that somewhere in *stan
The put up a cut out of Brad Pitt on a motorcycle to slow down traffic

Ole July 9, 2009 12:53 AM

I flew out of Kathmandu 3 weeks ago and was asked by the security officer at the X-ray if I had any money on me. I showed him my wallet which only had a few hundred nepalese rupees ($5 or so).

He then proceded to search my bags manually and asked if I had any euros or dollars which I denied. He looked very sad when he discovered no money during the search and let me go.

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