Corruption, transparency and free access to information


The meaning of the word corruption is “utterly broken” and it was first used by philosophers Aristotle and Cicero. A short definition for this word would be that, corruption occurs when a governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. From a philosophical, theological and moral point of view it is a spiritual, moral impurity or a deviation from an ideal.

When the action of businessmen, politicians, civil servants and officials is visible and light is shaded upon rules, processes and action related to these is the point where we can talk about the concept of transparency. By doing so, the general public can take measures and take account of the happenings that involve their lives. It is a way of fighting corruption at its best, because it also helps people be more trusting and make them have trust in different institutions that are an important part of their lives. Taking in consideration the fact that corruption can destroy lives transparency measures up as being very important. In some cases it could even cost people lives: their freedom, their health and in most common cases their money or assets.

The concept of corruption according to Morrison a professor of politics extends the concept and refers to corruption as the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Kauffman approaches a different area of corruption regarding this matter, a so called ”legal corruption”, in this case officials abuse their power but the laws are still obeyed, so in these cases even if from a moral stand point of view it is classified as corruption the dead cannot be punished according to law.

Unfortunately we can say that corruption has spread and it can be found in different sectors, such as: non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public and private sectors. We can classify different categories of corruption; each of this type of corruption has its own course. When we are talking about political corruption we can give several examples such as: vote purchasing, bribery and most common is the abuse of power; when a politician uses his or her own status to serve a personal benefit, for example gain money illegally. Police corruption takes place when officials falsify evidence or accept a bribe, in most cases this is a sum of money, for example: accepting money instead of giving a ticket is one of the most common and most frequent forms of corruption we can encounter when we talk about this type of corruption. Judicial corruption may occur when a convicted criminal gets a sentence that does not fit his or her crime. Blackmail, embezzlement, theft, fraud extortion and even blackmail are all part of corruption methods that can be used by each category of officials mentioned above for the same reason, a certain personal benefit.

In order for us to talk about cleaning and changing of the society of corruption we must bring into discussion an extensive framework of laws and treaties as well as compliance rules that were promulgated by the international organizations. In recent years, an extensive body of anti-corruption laws and treaties has developed; those are the FSPA, the U.K Bribery Act from 2010, the OECD, and the UNCAC and Regional Conventions.

We must fully understand the important role that these extensive framework of laws treaties have in trying to erase corruption. The FCPA stands for the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. The jurisdictional reach of FCPA is very broad, as for example, the statute applies to U.S companies and citizens, as well as to companies with securities registered or listed in the U.S even if they are incorporated elsewhere. The non U.S companies could also run afoul of the FCPA if they cause an act of furtherance or a bribe that might take place in the U.S. The FCPA imposes strict accounting requirements for companies whose securities are listed in the U.S. “This law has proven to be a very good one as it brought 300 cases of lawsuits and the companies that were involved have been fined millions of dollars, and as a result many individuals were sent to prison.”

The next law that needs to be highlighted is the OECD law, which in fact stands for Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions that in fact internationalized the FCPA’s prohibition of foreign bribery. This law has been implemented by most countries and it is a very important law. This OECD conducts a follow-up monitoring program. “Due to recent analysis it has been found that only the U.S, Germany, U.K and Switzerland actively enforce their anti-bribery laws.”

The UNCAC stands for The United Nations Convention against Corruption has a deeper scope that of which it extends to both foreign and domestic bribery, bribery in the private commercial transactions, extortion, embezzlement and illicit enrichment. It has provisions on a wide range of preventive measures that include international cooperation and asset recovery. It has been implemented by over 170 governments. An Implementation Review Mechanism, which began operations in 2010 conducting annually about 40 countries.

There is also Regional Conventions that are in fact, a number of regional anti-corruption conventions which include the Council of Europe Civil and Criminal Conventions on Corruption, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

When we talk about the anti-corruption rules we need to have in mind different aspects of evaluation. The prohibited practices refer to the fact that enterprises will prohibit the following practices at all times and in any form in relation with different agents such as a public official at international, national or local level or a political party, a party official or candidate to political office or a director, officer or even an employee of an Enterprise.

In order to better understand the anti-corruption rules we need to understand the don’ts. Bribery could be explained as offering, promising or giving authorizing or accepting of any undue pecuniary or other advantage to, by or for any of the persons that are listed above in order to obtain a business or other improper advantages.

The extortion or solicitation is the “demanding of a bribe, whether or not coupled with a threat if the demand is refused.”

The rules for a strong corporate compliance program are to express a strong explicit support and commitment to the Corporate Compliance Program by the Board of Directors or other body which has the ultimate responsibility. Establishing a clearly articulated and visible policy reflecting these Rules and binding for all the directors; mandating the Board of Directors to conduct periodical risk assessments and independent reviews of compliance of these Rules may be a solution to the problem of corruption.

In conclusion corruption is still a part of Romania and many people have experienced it. Fortunately people who have indeed encountered corruption tend toward fighting it than looking the other way. This is a positive result because such a thing as corruption can be fought only by working together against it in unity, accepting corruption as moral impurity and putting discipline and justice first.


By Széplaki Zita


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