Bribery is the act of giving money, goods or other forms of recompense
to a recipient in exchange for an alteration of their behavior (to the
benefit/interest of the giver) that the recipient would otherwise not
Bribery is defined by
Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary as the offering,
giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the
actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal
Gifts of money or other items of value which are otherwise available
to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, is
not bribery. Offering a discount or a refund to all purchasers is a
legal rebate and is not bribery. For example, it is legal for an
employee of a Public Utilities Commission involved in electric rate
regulation to accept a rebate on electric service that reduces their
cost for electricity, when the rebate is available to other
residential electric customers. Giving the rebate to influence them to
look favorably on the electric utility's rate increase applications,
however, would be considered bribery.
The bribe is the gift bestowed to influence the recipient's conduct.
It may be money, goods, rights in action, property, preferment,
privilege, emolument, objects of value, advantage, or merely a promise
to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in
an official or public capacity.
In economics, the bribe has been described as rent.
bureaucracy has been viewed as a reason for the higher cost of
production of goods and services.
2.1 Tax treatment
6 Sport corruption
8 Notable instances
9 See also
11 External links
Photo of cash found in Congressman William J. Jefferson's freezer in
the August 2005 raid was shown to jurors on 8 July 2009
Many types of payments or favors can constitute bribes: tip, gift,
sop, perk, skim, favor, discount, waived fee/ticket, free food, free
ad, free trip, free tickets, sweetheart deal, kickback/payback,
funding, inflated sale of an object or property, lucrative contract,
donation, campaign contribution, fundraiser, sponsorship/backing,
higher paying job, stock options, secret commission, or promotion
(rise of position/rank).
One must be careful of differing social and cultural norms when
examining bribery. Expectations of when a monetary transaction is
appropriate can differ from place to place. Political campaign
contributions in the form of cash, for example, are considered
criminal acts of bribery in some countries, while in the United
States, provided they adhere to election law, are legal. Tipping, for
example, is considered bribery in some societies, while in others the
two concepts may not be interchangeable.
In some Spanish-speaking countries, bribes are referred to as
"mordida" (literally, "bite"). In Arab countries, bribes may be called
baksheesh (a tip, gift, or gratuity) or "shay" (literally, "tea").
French-speaking countries often use the expressions "dessous-de-table"
("under-the-table" commissions), "pot-de-vin" (literally, "wine-pot"),
or "commission occulte" ("secret commission" or "kickback"). While the
last two expressions contain inherently a negative connotation, the
expression "dessous-de-table" can be often understood as a commonly
accepted business practice. In German, the common term is Schmiergeld
The offence may be divided into two great classes: the one, where a
person invested with power is induced by payment to use it unjustly;
the other, where power is obtained by purchasing the suffrages of
those who can impart it. Likewise, the briber might hold a powerful
role and control the transaction; or in other cases, a bribe may be
effectively extracted from the person paying it, although this is
better known as extortion.
The forms that bribery take are numerous. For example, a motorist
might bribe a police officer not to issue a ticket for speeding, a
citizen seeking paperwork or utility line connections might bribe a
functionary for faster service.
Bribery may also take the form of a secret commission, a profit made
by an agent, in the course of his employment, without the knowledge of
his principal. Euphemisms abound for this (commission, sweetener,
kick-back etc.) Bribers and recipients of bribery are likewise
numerous although bribers have one common denominator and that is the
financial ability to bribe.
Bribery around the world is estimated at about $1 trillion
As indicated on the pages devoted to political corruption, efforts
have been made in recent years by the international community to
encourage countries to dissociate and incriminate as separate
offences, active and passive bribery. From a legal point of view,
active bribery can be defined for instance as the promising, offering
or giving by any person, directly or indirectly, of any undue
advantage [to any public official], for himself or herself or for
anyone else, for him or her to act or refrain from acting in the
exercise of his or her functions. (article 2 of the Criminal Law
Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) of the Council of Europe). Passive
bribery can be defined as the request or receipt [by any public
official], directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage, for himself
or herself or for anyone else, or the acceptance of an offer or a
promise of such an advantage, to act or refrain from acting in the
exercise of his or her functions (article 3 of the Criminal Law
Convention on Corruption (ETS 173)).
The reason for this dissociation is to make the early steps (offering,
promising, requesting an advantage) of a corrupt deal already an
offence and, thus, to give a clear signal (from a criminal policy
point of view) that bribery is not acceptable. Besides, such a
dissociation makes the prosecution of bribery offences easier since it
can be very difficult to prove that two parties (the bribe-giver and
the bribe-taker) have formally agreed upon a corrupt deal. Besides,
there is often no such formal deal but only a mutual understanding,
for instance when it is common knowledge in a municipality that to
obtain a building permit one has to pay a "fee" to the decision maker
to obtain a favourable decision.
Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution
A grey area may exist when payments to smooth transactions are made.
United States law is particularly strict in limiting the ability of
businesses to pay for the awarding of contracts by foreign
governments; however, the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act contains an
exception for "grease payments"; very basically, this allows payments
to officials in order to obtain the performance of ministerial acts
which they are legally required to do, but may delay in the absence of
such payment. In some countries, this practice is the norm, often
resulting from a developing nation not having the tax structure to pay
civil servants an adequate salary. Nevertheless, most economists
regard bribery as a bad thing because it encourages rent seeking
behaviour. A state where bribery has become a way of life is a
Recent evidence suggests that the act of bribery can have political
consequences- with citizens being asked for bribes becoming less
likely to identify with their country, region and/or tribal
The tax status of bribes is an issue for governments since the bribery
of government officials impedes the democratic process and may
interfere with good government. In some countries, such bribes are
considered tax-deductible payments. However, in 1996, in an effort to
discourage bribery, the
OECD Council recommended that member countries
cease to allow the tax-deductibility of bribes to foreign officials.
This was followed by the signing of the Anti-
Bribery Convention .
Since that time, the majority of the
OECD countries which are
signatories of the convention have revised their tax policies
according to this recommendation and some have extended the measures
to bribes paid to any official, sending the message that bribery will
no longer be tolerated in the operations of the government.
As any monetary benefit received from an illegal activity such as
bribery is generally considered part of one’s taxable income,
however, as its criminal, some governments may refuse to accept it as
income as it may mean they are a party to the activity. 
Pharmaceutical corporations may seek to entice doctors to favor
prescribing their drugs over others of comparable effectiveness. If
the medicine is prescribed heavily, they may seek to reward the
individual through gifts. The
American Medical Association
American Medical Association has
published ethical guidelines for gifts from industry which include the
tenet that physicians should not accept gifts if they are given in
relation to the physician’s prescribing practices. Doubtful
cases include grants for traveling to medical conventions that double
as tourist trips.
Dentists often receive samples of home dental care products such as
toothpaste, which are of negligible value; somewhat ironically,
dentists in a television commercial will often state that they get
these samples but pay to use the sponsor's product.
In countries offering state-subsidized or nationally funded healthcare
where medical professionals are underpaid, patients may use bribery to
solicit the standard expected level of medical care. For example, in
many formerly Communist countries from what used to be the Eastern
Bloc it may be customary to offer expensive gifts to doctors and
nurses for the delivery of service at any level of medical care in the
non-private health sector.
Demonstration in Washington, DC
Politicians receive campaign contributions and other payoffs from
powerful corporations, organizations or individuals in return for
making choices in the interests of those parties, or in anticipation
of favorable policy, also referred to as lobbying. This is not illegal
in the United States and forms a major part of campaign finance,
though it is sometimes referred to as the money loop.
Convictions for this form of bribery are easier to obtain with hard
evidence, that is a specific amount of money linked to a specific
action by the bribed. Such evidence is frequently obtained using
undercover agents, since evidence of a quid pro quo relation difficult
to prove. See also influence peddling and political corruption. Recent
evidence suggests that demands for bribes can adversely impact citizen
level of trust and engagement with the political process.
A campaign to prevent bribes in Zambia.
Main article: Commercial bribery
Employees, managers, or salespeople of a business may offer money or
gifts to a potential client in exchange for business.
For example, in 2006, German prosecutors conducted a wide-ranging
Siemens AG to determine if Siemens employees paid
bribes in exchange for business.
In some cases where the system of law is not well-implemented, bribes
may be a way for companies to continue their businesses. In the case,
for example, custom officials may harass a certain firm or production
plant, officially stating they are checking for irregularities,
halting production or stalling other normal activities of a firm. The
disruption may cause losses to the firm that exceed the amount of
money to pay off the official. Bribing the officials is a common way
to deal with this issue in countries where there exists no firm system
of reporting these semi-illegal activities. A third party, known as a
White Glove, may be involved to act as a clean middleman.
Specialist consultancies have been set up to help multinational
companies and small and medium enterprises with a commitment to
anti-corruption to trade more ethically and benefit from compliance
with the law.
Contracts based on or involving the payment or transfer of bribes
("corruption money", "secret commissions", "pots-de-vin", "kickbacks")
The Economist noted:
Bribery would be less of a problem if it wasn't also a solid
investment. A new paper by
Raghavendra Rau of
Cambridge University and
Yan Leung Cheung and Aris Stouraitis of the Hong Kong Baptist
University examines 166 high-profile cases of bribery since 1971,
covering payments made in 52 countries by firms listed on 20 different
Bribery offered an average return of 10 to 11 times the
value of the bung paid out to win a contract, measured by the jump in
stockmarket value when the contract was won. America's Department of
Justice found similarly high returns in cases it has prosecuted.
In addition, a survey conducted by auditing firm Ernst & Young
(EY) in 2012 found that 15 percent of top financial executives are
willing to pay bribes in order to keep or win business. Another 4
percent said they would be willing to misstate financial performance.
This alarming indifference represents a huge risk to their business,
given their responsibility.
Main article: Match fixing
Referees and scoring judges may be offered money, gifts, or other
compensation to guarantee a specific outcome in an athletic or other
sports competition. A well-known example of this manner of bribery in
sport would be the 2002 Olympic Winter Games figure skating scandal,
where the French judge in the pairs competition voted for the Russian
skaters in order to secure an advantage for the French skaters in the
ice dancing competition.
Additionally, bribes may be offered by cities in order to secure
athletic franchises, or even competitions, as happened with the 2002
Winter Olympics. It is common practice for cities to "bid" against
each other with stadiums, tax benefits, and licensing deals.
The U.S. introduced the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977 to
address bribery of foreign officials. This legislation dominated
international anti-corruption enforcement until around 2010 when other
countries began introducing broader and more robust legislation,
notably the United Kingdom
Bribery Act 2010. The International
Organization for Standardization introduced an international
anti-bribery management system standard in 2016. In recent years,
cooperation in enforcement action between countries has increased.
Programs of prevention need to be properly designed and meet with
international standards of best practice. To ensure respect for a
program, whether it be on the part of employees or business partners,
external verification is necessary. International best practices such
as the Council for Further Combating
Bribery of Foreign Public
Officials in International Business Transactions, Annex 2; the ISO
26000 norm (section 6.6.3) or TI Business Principles for Countering
Bribery are used in external verification processes to measure and
ensure that a program of bribery prevention works and is consistent
with international standards. Another reason for businesses to undergo
external verification of their bribery prevention programs is that it
means evidence can be provided to assert that all that was possible
was done to prevent corruption. Companies are unable to guarantee
corruption has never occurred; what they can do is provide evidence
that they did their best to prevent it.
Spiro Agnew, American Vice President who resigned from office in the
aftermath of discovery that he took bribes while serving as Governor
United States Navy
United States Navy veteran and former Republican
member of the United States House of Representatives from California's
50th Congressional District resigned after pleading guilty to
accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and under-reporting his
income for 2004.
Gerald Garson, former New York Supreme Court Justice, convicted of
accepting bribes to manipulate outcomes of divorce proceedings.
Andrew J. Hinshaw, Republican, former congressman from California's
40th district, convicted of accepting bribes.
John Jenrette, Democrat, former congressman from South Carolina's 6th
district, convicted of accepting a bribe in the FBI's Abscam
Donald "Buz" Lukens, Republican, former congressman from Ohio's 8th
district, charged with delinquency of a minor and convicted of bribery
Martin Thomas Manton, former U.S. federal judge convicted of accepting
Rick Renzi, Republican, former congressman from Arizona's 1st
district, found guilty of 17 counts including wire fraud, conspiracy,
extortion, racketeering, and money laundering.
Ted Stevens, Republican, former Alaskan senator and president pro
tempore of the U.S. Senate, convicted of seven counts of bribery and
Dianne Wilkerson, Democrat, former Massachusetts state senator pleaded
guilty to eight counts of attempted extortion.
Roh Moo-hyun, former South Korean president committed suicide after
being investigated for receiving bribes.
Pakistan cricket spot-fixing controversy, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir
and Salman Butt, Pakistani cricketers found guilty of accepting bribes
to bowl no-balls against England at certain times.
Tangentopoli (Italian for "city of bribes") was a huge bribery scandal
in early 1990s Italy, which brought down the whole system of political
parties, when it was uncovered by the
Mani pulite investigations. At
one point roughly half of members of parliament were under
Larry Pressler rejected a bribe from undercover FBI agents during
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Bribery
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Bribe Payers Index
Conflict of interest
Corruption by country
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Group of States Against Corruption
Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe
King George's Calvary
Money trail -
Pay to Play
Bribery Act 2010
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bribery".
Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.).
Cambridge University Press.
^ What is bribert?, Black's Law Dictionary, retrieved September 30,
^ See generally T. Markus Funk, "Don't Pay for the Misdeeds of Others:
Intro to Avoiding Third-Party FCPA Liability," 6 BNA White Collar
Crime Report 33 (January 14, 2011) (discussing bribery in the context
of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).
^ "BBC NEWS - Business - African corruption 'on the wane'".
^ Hamilton, A.; Hudson, J. (2014). "
Bribery and Identity: Evidence
from Sudan" (PDF). Bath Economic Research Papers, No 21/14.
^ Hamilton, A.; Hudson, J. (2014). "The Tribes that Bind: Attitudes to
the Tribe and Tribal Leader in the Sudan" (PDF). Bath Economic
Research Papers 31/14.
OECD Anti-corruption and integrity in the public sector".
^ "Let the Sunshine in."
The Economist Newspaper. Ecomomist.com (from
Print Edition). 02 Mar. 2013. Retrieved 02 Dec. 2014.
^ "AMA Error Page". ama-assn.org. 28 April 2014.
^ Lewis, Mauree. (2000). Who is paying for healthcare in Eastern
Europe and Central Asia? World Bank Publications.
^ Bribes for basic care in Romania.
The Guardian Weekly
The Guardian Weekly (March 26th
OECD work on
Money in Politics &
^ International principle of law Trans-Lex.org
^ "You get who you pay for".
The Economist (2 June 2012). Retrieved 2
OECD work on preventing corruption in sporting events and promoting
responsible business conduct".
^ "Differences between the UK
Bribery Act and the US Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act". Retrieved 2018-03-09.
^ Breslin, Brigid; Doron Ezickson; John Kocoras (2010). "The Bribery
Act 2010: raising the bar above the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act".
Company Lawyer. Sweet & Maxwell. 31 (11): 362.
^ "New global framework for anti-bribery and corruption compliance
programs Freshfields knowledge". knowledge.freshfields.com. Retrieved
^ "Anti-bribery and corruption: global enforcement and legislative
developments 2017" (PDF). Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. January
2017. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
^ "TI Business Principles for Countering Bribery. Available Online.
Accessed on May 23, 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on
June 2, 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
Look up bribery in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bribery.
World Bank survey of 100,000 firms
Group of States against Corruption – GRECO
Business Principles for Countering Bribery
OECD Centre for Tax
Policy and Administration
OECD Celebrates 20th Anniversary of its Anti-
Country reports on the implementation of the
"The Business of Bribes" PBS Frontline and FRONTLINE/World (February
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