Could You Be Corrupt?

Olivia By Olivia, 27th Dec 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Ethics

This page is a short insight into the question, 'could you be corrupt?'

Having written about and currently working in an anti-corruption environment, I hope I can offer a different perspective exploring what corruption is, where corruption sits in 2015, whether you could be corrupt, a specific way to counter it and

What is Corruption?

Corruption is in its most basic form any type of unethical or dishonest behaviour, usually exhibited by an individual in a position of authority or power where they often personally benefit from the activity.

Activities that constitute corruption can be vast in scale and include but are not limited to bribery, embezzlement and trafficking (including humans and narcotics). Someone might give a bribe to a government official to gain a position of power or in order to have their opinions more favourable received. A company may bribe another company in order to get the deal over their competitors. An employee may give gifts to a friend in order to make a deal for them they would otherwise have not been allowed to in the normal course of their employment. These are just examples.
However, it is important to note that what constitutes corruption in one jurisdiction may not qualify as unethical conduct in another. In other words, the practice could be deemed completely legal!

2015 Corruption Explored

Let's explore where we all sit in 2015.

There are a number of useful indicators for showing the scale of corrupt activity globally. One of the most reputable sources in my view comes from Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) - if you haven't viewed it before, I strongly recommend you do a quick internet search and have a look. Launched in 1995, the CPI scores countries on how corrupt their public sectors are viewed as being. Analysts, businesspeople and experts in countries are used to form scores, as well as a sample of the population in most countries who comment on their existing view of corruption socially and in the government. Acting as a visual way of understanding corruption, a world map shows the participants and colours and marks them according to the scale of corruption (yellow for 'very clean' down to dark red for 'highly corrupt'). Comparisons can be drawn country-to-country and year-to-year, some which show improvement.

I note that like all research this is not an exhaustive view but it is certainly useful when measuring corruption in a basic way. Let us take a cross-section as an example: 175 countries participated in 2014 (the most recent analysis) and I live in the United Kingdom which 'ranks' as 14th out of 175, scoring fairly 'clean' on the list. Comparatively, the USA rank 17th and Canada 10th. Russia sits at 136th, China 100th and Argentina 107th. The country deemed most clean in 2014 is Denmark; Somalia and North Korea sit together as 2014's most corrupt. But what do all these statistics mean? In my opinion, it is more useful when one amalgamates them and undertakes a cross-comparison to represent improvement or deterioration in an economy. When statistically comparing across a 10 year timeframe, for example, we are more likely to spot trends and outliers in the data. In addition delving into the finer statistics can show more tailored views on jurisdictional perceived corruption.

I would suggest comparing your country's CPI score using this link with other sources to gain a more rounded view - use the HM Treasury website for travel and sanctions information. See what and how many Anti-Money Laundering regulations are in place, and check to see if there are any controls surrounding anti-bribery and corruption. There is certainly a global push to counter corruption which I will explain later but a simple internet search can quantify and qualify corruption around the world.
It is always important to remember that what constitutes corruption can be argued and corruption is very hard to capture and quantify, but I have outlined a starting point for your interest and exploration.

Nature, Nurture, or Neither?

Let us revisit my original question, having provided some background on corruption - could you be corrupt?

Most people would not hesitate to answer 'no' but think about it in your lifestyle and working context for a moment.

- Have you ever accepted a gift from a colleague without a second thought as to its value or why they gave it to you? Have you ever concealed a piece of information or told a lie to cover up bad practice? Have you ever given, or received a bribe because that is the 'done thing' in your company or your country?

I aim not to make anyone feel guilty, or be pessimistic, but rather to raise your own awareness of what could be deemed corruption and questions you could ask yourself.

The word corruption can instantly make a person think of criminals or certain countries and particular practices. If we view corruption as not only illegal practice, but also as unethical conduct, the lines start to blur. For example could LIBOR rigging and the FX scandal which abused the markets also be deemed corrupt practice? In most, if not all instances, individuals were trying to make a profit for themselves using their own information in a position of power and influence.

Can a capitalist society breed corrupt practice? Could you be exposed to corruption through what you do, who you know and an innate sense to succeed? If corruption is not classified as such in one jurisdiction, would you commit it even if it was illegal in your own country? I digress for a moment, but it is certainly interesting to think about and reflect on - think about where you as an individual would sit on the corruption scale if you were included in analysis of every person in the world.

Corruption is not just defined by words such as 'bribery' but in the subtler cultural and daily aspects of all our lives. This serves as only a short overview however, I would say corruption and the extent of it is a combination of nature, nurture and new and emerging facets of society, including the enhancement of regulation which I will explain in the next section.

Countering Corruption

Having described corruption and your own experience of it, let us look at the active tools and techniques to counter it.

Corruption is happening on a worldwide scale every day, whether by government officials or other members of society, or between each other. An awareness of corruption moved to countering it over the years with recent ethical misconduct creating a wave movement. Working in a regulatory environment I can vouch for the fact that it is undeniable we are in the throes of a serious crackdown on corruption, in part spurred on by the few who have exploited positions of power. Countering corruption begins as a concept that filters from the government through to society - primarily, the overarching regulation and government set the tone for how a country behaves. Bad practice left untreated leads to more bad practice from others who see this happening and view it as an unconditional way the country is governed.
Countering corruption is vast in scale, thus I will draw on one specific method in this section. Politically Exposes Persons (PEPs) can now be screened for negative press and adverse news. PEPs are current or former political or closely associated individuals (such as immediate and extended family members, spouse and friends) who are more susceptible to corruption and illegal activities. PEPs are deemed a higher risk than the average member of society. Enhanced screening must therefore be applied and companies and countries can chose to liaise with the individual or not as a result. Countries, companies and individuals have been prohibited from beneficial collaborations as a result of negative press and perceived or prove corrupt activity.

Aside from the screening of PEPs, it is important to comment that regulation surrounding good conduct will affect many countries in 2016. Good conduct represents the evolution of moving away from ticking the boxes in countries, and places emphasis on individual responsibility rather than countries, governments and corporations who should 'get it right'. Governments are collaborating to actively combat corruption together, with regulation driven by the highest supervisory authorities.

Tighter regulation and the impact of your responsibility gives individuals a chance to reflect on your own practice and thoughts on corruption.

Moving Forward to 2016...

Corruption as a concept can be easily viewed as a black and white concept in the first instance. Delving into some of the finer detail, I hope to have highlighted this is not always the case. Grey areas do actively exist.

It is important for individuals to think about themselves, what they deem to be 'right' or 'wrong' and how corruption can affect them. 2016 will bring about significant changes, and emphasis on the individual.

This certainly raises wider concepts and questions that should be considered in turn. Could anyone, given the opportunity, act in a corrupt way? Does a governmental leader act as a catalyst for corrupt activity? Do more regulations equal less corrupt activity? How could you behave if you were inadvertently exposed to corruption? Are you exposed to corrupt activity on a daily basis due to the country live in, the job you work in, or who you befriend?

I have viewed corruption from only one perspective but in using this article I aim to raise your own awareness, knowledge and understanding of the future of corruption.


2014, 2015, 2016, Bad, Banking, Corrupt Politicians, Corrupt Regimes, Corruption, Corruption Indicators, Corruption Of Goverment, Corruption Perception Index, Cpi, Ethics, Finance, Global Economy, Good, Market, Money, People, Strategy, World, You

Meet the author

author avatar Olivia
My writing will encapsulate the things I value in life and what I not only enjoy writing about but what I believe in. I hope you enjoy my work and look forward to reading your interesting articles!

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author avatar SaigonDeManila
28th Dec 2015 (#)

This is an xcellence piece worthy for soul searching and pay forward value formation!

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