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Corruption is payment for services or material which the recipient is not due, under law. This may be called bribery, kickbacks, or, in the Middle East, baksheesh Wp→. In government it is when an elected representative makes decisions that are influenced by vested interest rather than their own personal or party ideological beliefs. Communist movements and governments are not immune from either corruption or organized criminal activity.


The word corrupt (Middle English, from Latin corruptus, past participle of corrumpere, to abuse or destroy : com-, intensive Wp→ pref. and rumpere, to break) when used as an adjective literally means "utterly broken".[1]

By field


A political cartoon from Harper's Weekly, January 26, 1878, depicting U.S. Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz investigating the Indian Bureau at the U.S. Department of the Interior. The original caption for the cartoon is: "THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR INVESTIGATING THE INDIAN BUREAU. GIVE HIM HIS DUE, AND GIVE THEM THEIR DUES."

Political corruption is the abuse of public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, e.g. by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes[2] It can also take the form of office holders maintaining themselves in office by purchasing votes by enacting laws which use taxpayer money.[3] Systemic corruption is the complete subversion of a political or economic system. Governmental corruption of judiciary is broadly known in many transitional and developing countries because the budget is almost completely controlled by the executive. The latter undermines the separation of powers, as it creates a critical financial dependence of the judiciary. The proper national wealth distribution including the government spending on the judiciary is subject of the constitutional economics. It is important to distinguish between the two methods of corruption of the judiciary: the government (through budget planning and various privileges), and the private.[4]


Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, and/or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting and/or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence. More rarely, police officers may deliberately and systematically participate in organized crime themselves. In most major cities, there are internal affairs sections to investigate suspected police corruption or misconduct. Similar entities include the British Independent Police Complaints Commission Wp→.

Systemic corruption

Systemic corruption (or endemic corruption[5]) is corruption which is primarily due to a weaknesses of an organisation or process. It can be contrasted with individual officials or agents who act corruptly within the system.

Factors which encourage systemic corruption include conflicting incentives, discretionary powers; monopolistic powers; lack of transparency; low pay; and a culture of impunity.[6] Specific acts of corruption include "bribery, extortion, and embezzlement" in a system where "corruption becomes the rule rather than the exception."[7] Scholars distinguish between centralized and decentralized systemic corruption, depending on which level of state or government corruption takes place; in countries such as the Post-Soviet states both types occur.[8]
In China, you might pay 20 on the dollar to get your project done, and it will get done quickly. In India, it's 40, and it will get done in a few years. In Russia, it's 80--and you may get shot before it gets done.[9]


  1. Corrupt | Define Corrupt at URL accessed on 2010-12-06.
  2. Chinhamo, Obert; Shumba, Gabriel (2007), Institutional working definition of corruption, Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa, 
  3. [1]
  4. Barenboim, Peter (October 2009). Defining the rules. Issue 90. The European Lawyer. 
  5. Glossary. U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre. URL accessed on 26 June 2011.
  6. Lorena Alcazar, Raul Andrade (2001), Diagnosis corruption, pp. 135–136,  
  7. Znoj, Heinzpeter (2009). "Deep Corruption in Indonesia: Discourses, Practices, Histories". in Monique Nuijten, Gerhard Anders. Corruption and the secret of law: a legal anthropological perspective. Ashgate. pp. 53–54. . 
  8. Legvold, Robert (2009). "Corruption, the Criminalized State, and Post-Soviet Transitions". in Robert I. Rotberg. Corruption, global security, and world orde. Brookings Institution. p. 197. . 
  9. Rana Foroohar. "Walmart's Discounted Ethics", May 07, 2012. Retrieved on April 28, 2012. 

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