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How Communication can Help Break the Chain of Corruption in the Private Sector

Roxanne Bauer's picture

When one thinks of corruption in the private-sector, grand scenes of executives paying bribes, bidders lying to win contracts, and senior accountants setting up secret bank accounts are likely to come to mind. In reality, though, the most common form of corruption is small-scale bribery involving people at every step of a company ladder. 

Small-scale bribery can take many forms, including non-disclosure of conflicts of interest, setting up deals that benefit particular people, or paying a little extra money to speed up a normally slow process. You might not think the everyday payments people make to building inspectors, customs officials, their friends across the street, or to themselves matter, but they can create a culture of corruption and set an expectation for future payments.

This was one of the main points of a panel discussion, “The Role of Integrity Compliance and Collective Action in Making the Private Sector a Partner in the Fight Against Corruption” at the International Corruption Hunters Alliance conference held at The World Bank Group December 8-10, 2014. The panelists were Dr. Andreas Pohlmann, Billy Jacobson, and Cecilia Müller Torbrand. Galina Mikhlin-Oliver of the Integrity Vice Presidency of The World Bank was the moderator.

A Voice Against Corruption

Leonard McCarthy's picture

Last week, Transparency International published its 2013 Corruption Barometer, which reports the findings of a survey of 114,000 people in 107 countries on their interactions with corruption, the institutions and sectors they see as most corrupt, and their perceptions on whether they have a role in combating corruption. The report captures a number of trends, including the view that corruption is worsening across many sectors; it also calls for governments to strengthen their accountability platforms and enhance standards for procurement and public financial management.

This year’s survey found that 27% of people report having paid a bribe in the past year, nearly the same percentage as in the 2010/2011 report (26%). This indicates that more than a quarter of people surveyed have been touched by bribery.
 
There was a follow-up question: If the respondent did pay a bribe, what was the reason? The answer given most often, with 40% of responses, was “to speed things up.” This high rate of bribes for speed of service, to me, suggests a troubling complicity: The person paying the bribe may feel entitled to more rapid service at the expense of others.

New Year’s resolution: Shine a light to reduce corruption in Vietnam

Victoria Kwakwa's picture
This traditional Vietnamese print depicts corruption in the form of rats bribing a cat in order to celebrate a wedding.

Cũng có ở Tiếng việt

As Vietnam sits on the cusp of becoming a middle income country, reflections on achievements and emerging challenges is inevitable. Like a runner with tremendous stamina, Vietnam has made great strides in reducing poverty and in maintaining economic growth even through a global downturn. At the same time, we know that Vietnam continues to face formidable challenges, among them corruption.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

One
Aid and Beyond:  Transparency, Accountability and Results

"As negotiations heat up ahead of the Fourth High Level Forum on aid effectiveness (HLF-IV), many countries are keen to move beyond a narrow aid effectiveness agenda, bringing in a broader range of actors and issues in recognition of the changing development landscape. Emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil are becoming ever more important. The demand for Africa’s oil and mineral resources is growing, providing many African countries with new revenue streams. Traditional donors’ aid budgets are under pressure. And people are taking to the streets and the twitter-verse to demand more transparent and accountable governance, from north Africa to north America and beyond. However, broadening the conversation to include more actors and issues beyond aid, must not and need not be at the expense of clear, measurable and time-bound commitments on aid effectiveness."  READ MORE

Balancing individual and corporate accountability for corruption

Recently, many in the community concerned about international corruption have begun to discuss the need to hold individuals responsible criminally for their actions.  While people have long discussed the failure to hold high-profile bribe recipients responsible, now the discussion has mutated to the bribe payer side.  Lower-level targets are certainly more easily prosecuted than the rich and powerful.  After all, corruption, like most crimes, is committed by people, not by companies, machines or cultures.  Some countries, most notable the U.S., have brought an increasing number of cases against individuals directly involved in paying or authorizing bribes.

Monitoring for results: an accessory or ingredient on reform agendas?!

Francesca Recanatini's picture

We have received a few comments to the blog we posted last week and we want to take this opportunity to thank our contributors.  The examples provided and issues raised highlight both the on-going efforts that are happening at the country level and the need to learn from these efforts.  The on-going discussion also raises some additional questions:

If money is the root of evil, are developed countries doing enough about the problem of bribes paid in the developing world?

It is a fact that many of the countries which suffer the most from corruption are the countries which have the fewest resources to combat the problem.  Poor countries may be faced with a dilemma of using resources to prosecute the corruption which degrades the quality and quantity of public goods that reach their citizens, or using resources to provide those basic goods, such as food aid and roads.

At the same time, larger bribes are not infrequently paid by outsiders, such as foreign corporations.  Casual observation shows that funds must be coming from outside some of the poorest countries.  In short, the bribe money is flowing from the developed world into the developing world.  


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