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Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It is a widespread problem that you may encounter when dealing with public authorities.
Corruption problems are not limited to public officials, though. You may also find that your dealings with private companies are affected by corrupt acts.
In most countries, corruption is punishable as a criminal offence. Sometimes the law also enables the victims of corruption to claim compensation for their losses.
In this guide we outline the legal tools which may be available to you for
Corruption occurs when people misuse the authority given to them by the state, by their employer or by someone else. Rather than doing their duty for the public good, they abuse their position to make money or gain personal advantage.
Corruption takes many forms. A government or a state authority may apply policies that are designed to give preferential treatment to one group of people rather than another. Or a public agency may grant a valuable commercial concession to a member of a government minister’s family. But corruption also occurs at an individual local level, for example where a public official demands a bribe in order to process your application for a building permit.
EXAMPLE: In 1999 the World Bank reported that corruption in Poland’s health-care system was extensive, and that ordinary people were forced to give medical staff gifts or “speed money” to secure prompt treatment. Larger bribes were often required for surgery and other treatment. Public outcry led to the establishment of a Medical Task Force, to expose the corruption and to identify solutions.
Here are some examples of the different types of corruption:
It’s important to understand that corruption is not limited to the public sector. Many of the above types of corruption can also occur when you deal with companies, trade unions, religious bodies and other private sector entities.
EXAMPLE: In late 2016 the former state president of a large trade union in Australia was charged with soliciting and receiving secret benefits from a large construction company. He was accused of having agreed that the company would undertake $400,000 of free renovations on his home, in return for ensuring that his union did not disrupt the company’s business with threats of industrial unrest.