20 Sep 2021


Understanding Corruption (1)

"By understanding corruption, I hope it would simplify its eradication as the saying goes, " An enemy identified is an enemy half-defeated".

 By Agorong Awerbok

There is no universal definition to corruption because it is a complex, dynamic and multifaceted phenomenon, which takes a variety of forms. The definitions can be interpreted from:

1) Moral definition: ethics and corrupt behaviours,

2) Legal definition: focused on criminalized activities,

3) Governance deficit: that looks at institutions & systems' vulnerability to corruption.
The broader concept, however, recognizes that corruption is the misuse of entrusted power for private gain.


Categories of corruption:

1) Grand corruption: This occurs at the highest level of gov't in a way that requires significant subversion of the political, legal and economic systems. Such corruption exists where policies, and rules are formulated. Examples of grand corruption are:

1) Creating non-existent state loans and making the payments to ones accounts.

2) Getting bribes from a multinational company and hiding the money in bank accounts and shell companies overseas.

3) Awarding an overpriced government contract to a shell company, subcontract the work to a real company that will do it for much less, and then pocket the difference.



2) Systemic corruption: This is a situation in which major institutions and processes of the state are routinely dominated and used by corrupt individuals and groups, and in which most people have no alternatives to dealing with corrupt officials.

3) Petty corruption: This is everyday corruption, which takes place at the implementation end of policies, where the public officials meet the public. It occurs at public administrations and services e.g. hospitals, schools, local licensing authorities, police etc.

4) Political corruption: It involves politicians, government ministers, senior public servants and other appointed public office holders. It may include tailoring laws and regulations to the advantage of private sector agents e.g. communication service companies, in exchange for bribes, granting large public contracts to specific firms or embezzling funds from the treasury.

5) State capture corruption: This is a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state's decision-making process to their own advantage.

6) Direct corruption: Is when someone engages in unethical actions to make a gain for himself. An example is a public official taking funds that were paid to the government in taxes and embezzling the money to enrich himself.

7) Indirect corruption: Is when someone enables the corrupt acts of someone else by not taking actions against the corrupt person or, even worse, taking actions against anyone who tries to stop the direct corruption.

The following categories, which I will not explain in details also exist: legislative corruption, bureaucratic corruption, corporate corruption.

In the next post(s), I will share prevalent forms of corruption.

By understanding corruption, I hope it would simplify its eradication as the saying goes, " An enemy identified is an enemy half- defeated".

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