Government corruption is any type of abuse of public office or title for personal gain. All areas of the government in every part of the world are vulnerable to government corruption. Government corruption may be related to organized criminal activity or it may be a more isolated event. Government corruption can occur from the local level to the multinational arena in both political and bureaucratic offices. Some common types of government corruption include: bribery, extortion, fraud, nepotism, embezzlement, and similar activities.
Bribery is government corruption whereby one party offers something of value to a government official in exchange for some favor or immunity from laws or ethics. Extortion is the use of one's political position to obtain something of value. Government corruption that involves fraud can include any act that is intended to deceive another party (including the public) in order to achieve personal gain. Nepotism is government corruption whereby family and close kin are favored in some political dealing. Embezzlement is government corruption involving taking or using government money for personal use.
There are many conditions which are favorable to government corruption in any area of political activity. When a population has a weak rule of law (possibly due to judicial corruption), a weak legal profession, restricted freedoms of speech and the press, and other vulnerable institutions, government corruption is more likely to take place. A society may also be more vulnerable to government corruption when there is little transparency in government transactions, power is relegated to the hands of a few decisions makers who are not held accountable to the masses, and when there are no checks and balances on the political system.
Government corruption often takes place in situations where the expenses of political campaigns exceed the legitimate sources of political funding. Campaign financing is a common practice in many nations throughout the world, and proliferate in the United States. Contribution to a political campaign is not illegal in and of itself, but is considered government corruption when given in exchange for political favor and other gains.
Government corruption is also more common in situations involving large scale public projects, transactions involving certain resources, and virtually any matter where a public official stands to gain significant personal benefit for a public decision or transaction.
Anti-government corruption laws have been established on both the state and federal level in the United States in order to reduce the incidence of government corruption. Most statutes make crimes of government corruption felony offenses that are punishable by incarceration, fines, and more. If you would like to learn more about government corruption, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney.
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