In modern societies, citizens have the right to hold public office. That means no law or qualification can prevent them from obtaining a position of authority involving responsibility to the public. Public office is therefore not only a right. For those who are elected to and who carry out the duties of their respective office, it is also a privilege.
Unfortunately, not all public officials feel that way. Some engage in corruption, which means they abuse their public office for private (and not necessarily financial) gain.
Most governments have regulations in place to punish those who commit acts of corruption. But when abuse of public office becomes so pervasive that it not only violates the law but also perverts the lawmaking process itself, justice isn't simple.
Neither are corruption's ramifications.
According to a new report (PDF) prepared by a staff team from the Fiscal Affairs Department and the Legal Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), systemic corruption breeds public distrust in government and hurts economic growth. It does so in four ways:
Corruption doesn't just undermine public trust and economic growth. As explained by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in a blog post:
"While the direct economic costs of corruption are well known, the indirect costs may be even more substantial and debilitating, leading to low growth and greater income inequality. Corruption also has a broader corrosive impact on society. It undermines trust in government and erodes the ethical standards of private citizens. Given the potential impact of corruption on macroeconomic stability and sustainable economic growth, the IMF has been actively engaged in helping our members design and implement anti-corruption strategies.".
If states want to experience economic growth and cultivate a healthy societal structure, they must actively work to discourage corruption. Specifically, they must force companies to adopt standards on financial transparency, set up institutions capable of prosecuting offending individuals, promote de-regulation, and create an independent legal framework.
But states can only do so much. Most instances of corruption involve a public official communicating or conspiring with a private citizen. As a result, organisations also have a responsibility to help prevent the spread of corruption, money laundering, and bribery. That duty begins with developing a corporate anti-bribery policy and using it to conduct ongoing staff awareness training.
For more information on how Metacompliance's solutions can help you teach your employees about the dangers of corruption, please click here.