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Bribery is a crime
Bribery is a crime implying a sum or gift given alters the behavior of
the person in ways not consistent with the duties of that person. It is
defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or
soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions as an official
or other person in discharge of a public or legal duty. The bribe is the
gift bestowed to influence the receiver's conduct. It may be any money,
good, right in action, property, preferment, privilege, emolument,
object of value, advantage, or any promise or undertaking to induce or
influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or
It is a form of political corruption and is generally considered
unethical. In most jurisdictions it is illegal, or at least cause for
sanctions from one's employer or professional organization.
For example, a motorist may bribe a police officer not to issue a ticket
for speeding, a citizen seeking paperwork or utility line connections
may bribe a functionary for faster service, a construction company may
bribe a civil servant to award a contract, or a narcotics smuggler may
bribe a judge to lessen criminal penalties.
In some cases, the briber holds a powerful role and controls the
transaction; in other cases, a bribe may be effectively extracted from
the person paying it.
Expectations of when a monetary transaction is appropriate can also
differ: tipping, for example, is considered bribery in some societies,
while in others the two concepts may be interchangeable. In Spanish,
bribes are referred to as "la mordida" (literally, "the bite"), in
middle eastern countries they are Backshish or Bakshish.
The level of non-monetary favours that constitute an incentive to
unethical behaviour is variable and may constitute a matter of opinion
in a given field:
Payola is the commonplace practice where record companies buy air time
from radio and television stations for songs they are promoting.
A grey area may exist when payments to smooth transactions are made.
United States law is particularly strict in limiting the ability of
businesses to pay for the awarding of contracts by foreign governments;
however, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act contains an exception for
"grease payments"; very basically, this allows payments to officials in
order to obtain the performance of ministerial acts which they are
legally required to do, but may delay in the absence of such payment. In
some countries, this practice is the norm, often resulting from a
developing nation not having the tax structure to pay civil servants an
adequate salary. Nevertheless, most economists regard bribery as a bad
thing because it encourages rent seeking behaviour. A state where
bribery has become a way of life is a kleptocracy.
Pharmaceutical corporations may seek to reward doctors for heavy
prescription of their drugs through gifts. The American Medical
Association has published ethical guidelines for gifts from industry
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