In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Government, or 'political', corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.
- 1 Definition
- 2 Scales of corruption
- 3 Corruption in different sectors
- 4 Methods
- 5 Types of corrupt gain
- 6 Preventing corruption
- 7 Anti-corruption programmes
- 8 Legal corruption
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The word corrupt when used as an adjective literally means "utterly broken". The word was first used by Aristoteles and later by Cicero who added the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. According to Morris, corruption is described as the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Senior, however, defines corruption as an action to (a) secretly provide (b) a good or a service to a third party (c) so that he or she can influence certain actions which (d) benefit the corrupt, a third party, or both (e) in which the corrupt agent has authority.
Scales of corruption
Corruption can occur on different scales. There is corruption that occurs as small favours between a small number of people (petty corruption), corruption that affects the government on a large scale (grand corruption), and corruption that is so prevalent that it is part of the every day structure of society, including corruption as one of the symptoms of organized crime (systemic corruption).
Petty corruption occurs at a smaller scale and within established social frameworks and governing norms. Examples include the exchange of small improper gifts or use of personal connections to obtain favors. This form of corruption is particularly common in developing countries and where public servants are significantly underpaid.
Grand corruption is defined as corruption occurring at the highest levels of government in a way that requires significant subversion of the political, legal and economic systems. Such corruption is commonly found in countries with authoritarian or dictatorial governments but also in those without adequate policing of corruption.
The government system in many countries is divided into the legislative, executive and judiciary branches in an attempt to provide independent services that are less prone to corruption due to their independence.
Systemic corruption (or endemic corruption) is corruption which is primarily due to the weaknesses of an organization or process. It can be contrasted with individual officials or agents who act corruptly within the system.
Factors which encourage systemic corruption include conflicting incentives, discretionary powers; monopolistic powers; lack of transparency; low pay; and a culture of impunity. Specific acts of corruption include "bribery, extortion, and embezzlement" in a system where "corruption becomes the rule rather than the exception." Scholars distinguish between centralized and decentralized systemic corruption, depending on which level of state or government corruption takes place; in countries such as the Post-Soviet states both types occur.
Corruption in different sectors
Corruption can occur in different sectors, whether they be public or private industry or even NGOs.
Public sector corruption is one of the more insidious forms of corruption; a corrupt governing body can lead to widespread effects in the rest of society. Recent research by the World Bank suggests that who makes policy decisions (elected officials or bureaucrats) can be critical in determining the level of corruption because of the incentives different policy-makers face 
Legislative System (Political)
Political corruption is the abuse of public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, e.g. by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes It can also take the form of office holders maintaining themselves in office by purchasing votes by enacting laws which use taxpayers' money.
Executive System (Police)
Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, and/or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting and/or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence. More rarely, police officers may deliberately and systematically participate in organized crime themselves. In most major cities, there are internal affairs sections to investigate suspected police corruption or misconduct. Similar entities include the British Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Judicial Corruption refers to corruption related misconduct of judges, through receiving or giving bribes, improper sentencing of convicted criminals, bias in the hearing and judgement of arguments and other such misconduct.
Governmental corruption of judiciary is broadly known in many transitional and developing countries because the budget is almost completely controlled by the executive. The latter undermines the separation of powers, as it creates a critical financial dependence of the judiciary. The proper national wealth distribution including the government spending on the judiciary is subject of the constitutional economics.
It is important to distinguish between the two methods of corruption of the judiciary: the government (through budget planning and various privileges), and the private.
As corporations and business entities grow larger, sometimes with a monetary turnover many times that of small countries, the threat of corruption in the business world, within the organization, in dealings with other organisations and in dealings with the government is a looming and growing threat.
Labor racketeering is the domination, manipulation, and control of a labor movement in order to affect related businesses and industries. It can lead to the denial of workers’ rights and inflicts an economic loss on the workers, business, industry, insurer, or consumer.
The historical involvement of La Cosa Nostra in labor racketeering has been thoroughly documented: More than one-third of the 58 members arrested in 1957 at the Apalachin conference in New York listed their employment as “labor” or “labor-management relations.” Three major U.S. Senate investigations have documented La Cosa Nostra’s involvement in labor racketeering. One of these, the McClellan Committee, in the late-1950s, found systemic racketeering in both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. In 1986, the President’s Council on Organized Crime reported that five major unions—including the Teamsters and the Laborers International Union of North America—were dominated by organized crime. In the early 1980s, former Gambino Family Boss Paul Castellano was overheard saying, “Our job is to run the unions.”
Labor unions provide a rich source for organized criminal groups to exploit: their pension, welfare, and health funds. There are approximately 75,000 union locals in the U.S., and many of them maintain their own benefit funds. In the mid-1980s, the Teamsters controlled more than 1,000 funds with total assets of more than $9 billion.
The FBI currently has several investigative techniques to root out labor law violations: electronic surveillance, undercover operations, confidential sources, and victim interviews. They also have numerous criminal and civil statutes to use at their disposal, primarily through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Statute. Citation needed
The Teamsters are the best example of how efficiently the civil RICO process can be used. For decades, the Teamsters has been substantially controlled by La Cosa Nostra. In recent years, four of eight Teamster presidents were indicted, yet the union continued to be controlled by organized crime elements. The government has been fairly successful at removing the extensive criminal influence from this 1.4 million-member union by using the civil process.
NGOs and other non-profit organizations are not immune to corruption and may be linked to political corruption.
Bribery is the improper use of gifts and favors in exchange for personal gain. This is also known as kickbacks or, in the Middle East, baksheesh. It is the most common form of corruption. The types of favors given are diverse and include money, gifts, sexual favors, company shares, entertainment, employment and political benefits. The personal gain that is given can be anything from actively giving preferential treatment to having an indiscretion or crime overlooked.
Bribery can sometimes be part of a the systemic use of corruption for other ends, for example to perpetrate further corruption. Bribery can make officials more susceptible to blackmail or extortion.
Embezzlement, theft and fraud
Embezzlement and theft involve someone with access to funds or assets illegally taking control of them. Fraud involves using deception to convince the owner of funds or assets to give them up to an unauthorized party.
Examples include the misdirection of company funds into "shadow companies" (and then into the pockets of corrupt employees), the skimming of foreign aid money, scams and other corrupt activity.
Extortion and blackmail
While bribery is the use of positive inducements for corrupt aims, extortion and blackmail centre around the use of threats. This can be the threat of violence or false imprisonment as well as exposure of an individual's secrets or prior crimes.
This includes such behavior as an influential person threatening to go to the media if they do not receive speedy medical treatment (at the expense of other patients), threatening a public official with exposure of their secrets if they do not vote in a particular manner, or demanding money in exchange for continued secrecy.
Types of corrupt gain
Abuse of discretion
Abuse of discretion refers to the misuse of one's powers and decision-making facilities. Examples include a judge improperly dismissing a criminal case or a customs official using their discretion to allow a banned substance through a port.
Favoritism, nepotism and clientelism
Favouritism, nepotism and clientelism involve the favouring of not the perpetrator of corruption but someone related to them, such as a friend, family member or member of an association. Examples would include hiring a family member to a role they are not qualified for or promoting a staff member who belongs to the same political party as you, regardless of merit.
Some states do not forbid these forms of corruption.
Improper political contributions
This is the use of contributions to political parties to secure illicit power, not because one favours their policies. An example would be tobacco or alcohol companies funding major political parties as a means of influencing the policing of their industry.
It can be difficult to differentiate between proper and improper use of political contributions.
R. Klitgaard postulates that corruption will occur if the corrupt gain is greater than the penalty multiplied by the likelihood of being caught and prosecuted:
Corrupt gain > Penalty × Likelihood of being caught and prosecuted
The degree of corruption will then be a function of the degree of monopoly and discretion in deciding who should get how much on the one hand and the degree to which this activity is accountable and transparent on the other hand. Still, these equations (which should be understood in a qualitative rather than a quantitative manner) seem to be lacking one aspect: a high degree of monopoly and discretion accompanied by a low degree of transparency does not automatically lead to corruption without any moral weakness or insufficient integrity. Also, low penalties in combination with a low probability of being caught will only lead to corruption if people tend to neglect ethics and moral commitment. The original Klitgaard equation has therefore been amended by C. Stephan into
Degree of corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Transparency – Morality
According to Stephan, the moral dimension has an intrinsic and an extrinsic component. The intrinsic component refers to a mentality problem, the extrinsic component to external circumstances like poverty, inadequate remuneration, inappropriate work conditions and inoperable or overcomplicated procedures which demoralize people and let them search for “alternative” solutions.
According to the amended Klitgaard equation, limitation of monopoly and regulator discretion of individuals and a high degree of transparency through independent oversight by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the media plus public access to reliable information could reduce the problem. Any extrinsic aspects that might reduce morality should be eliminated. Additionally, a country should establish a culture of ethical conduct in society with the government setting the good example in order to enhance the intrinsic morality.
A document produced by the economic and private sector professional evidence and applied knowledge services help-desk discusses some of the existing practices on anti-corruption. They found:
- The theories behind the fight against corruption are moving from a principal-agent approach to a collective action problem. Principal-agent theories seem not to be suitable to target systemic corruption.
- The role of multilateral institutions has been crucial in the fight against corruption. UNCAC provides a common guideline for countries around the world. Both Transparency International and the World Bank provide assistance to national governments in term of diagnostic and design of anti-corruption policies.
- The use of anti-corruption agencies have proliferated in recent years after the signing of UNCAC. They found no convincing evidence on the extent of their contribution, or the best way to structure them.
- Traditionally anti-corruption policies have been based on success experiences and common sense. In recent years there has been an effort to provide a more systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of anti-corruption policies. They found that this literature is still in its infancy.
- Anti-corruption policies that may be in general recommended to developing countries may not be suitable for post-conflict countries. Anti-corruption policies in fragile states have to be carefully tailored.
- Anti-corruption policies can improve the business environment. There is evidence that lower corruption may facilitate doing business and improve firm’s productivity. Rwanda in the last decade has made tremendous progress in improving governance and the business environment providing a model to follow for post-conflict countries.
The adoption of an anti-corruption programme is necessary for an organization to prove that despite a particular case of bribery it nevertheless has adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated with it from bribing. The analysis of case law shows that companies are demonstrating the effectiveness of their programmes and reduce their potential liabilities by selfdeclaring situations to relevant authorities.
Though corruption is often viewed as illegal, there is an evolving concept of legal corruption, as developed by Daniel Kaufmann and Pedro Vicente. It might be termed as processes which are legal (that is, specifically permitted, or at least not proscribed by law), but which are aimed at private gain (or the gain of narrow self interests) rather than benefitting all.
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