What is Bribery?

Definition: Bribery is an attempt to influence a business decision by offering some kind of personal benefit to the decision maker. Bribery exists when a potential beneficiary of a contract suggests that a selection in favor of him would be related to a reward for the person who has the authority to decide.

What Does Bribery Mean?

In business, many companies allocate massive financial resources in contracts, this makes bribery a very appealing idea for some people. Bribery intends to reach a hidden agreement between the person who decides and the person who wants to be granted with the contract. As the money involved is higher, the likelihood of bribery situations tends increase. Sometimes bribery is a direct, clear proposition but in other instances it is more like a nice gift that places the donator in an advantageous position against the remaining contenders.

Company’s stakeholders always expect that contracts are granted to the best contender in terms of qualifications and requirements so the decision maker has the legal and moral obligation of fulfilling such expectation. All companies must be aware of bribery and its negative consequences. A useful anti-bribery strategy is to talk honestly and openly about actions that are considered as bribery and penalties to employees participating in such situations.

In some cases it is advisable to delegate decisions to committees instead of single employees. Supervision and control systems must exist with the purpose of identifying possible bribery cases adequately.


Carlos Nuñez is a manager who was assigned to a large construction project in an African country. He works for a Portuguese company that has recently initiated operations in foreign countries. He will allocate more than 1 million dollars in five contracts through some bidding procedures that lack the supervision of the central office.

A person owning one of the competitor companies offered an attractive amount of money to Carlos if the decision favored his business. However, that company did not seem as an adequate candidate to fulfill the required work. Carlos refused the bribe and finally chose the best participants available for the contracts.

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