Bribery Tales

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Swati Ramanathan, co-founder of the Janaagraha Center for Citizenship & Democracy in Bangalore, talks about the website her organization started, "I Paid a," to combat petty corruption and bribery. We're also be joined by Ben Elers, Transparency International's director for programmes, to discuss the problem of "petty" bribery experienced by people in many countries.

What's the culture of bribery like in your country? Got a bribery story? Post it here! 


Swati Ramanathan

Comments [21]

Mike Failed-A-Vet from a Public Library

Brain have U forgotten the NYC Veteran who spent 8 yrs attempting to
correct his Birth Certificate B 4 hiring a Lawyer? [ie paying BRIBE]!
There was also reported a woman dutifully donating blood without testing
for pregnancy 1st who is now forever banned from donating simply due
to the AIDS test popping positive for pregnancy. USA assigns ALL RISK
to the citizen, many of whom lack lawyers to correct things gov't refuses
to correct, or even have staff to correct. So, paying bribes in USA would
correct so many things that are just cheaper to let stand as wrong as
they are. Of course the poor, whom folks with jobs/or wanting to win
elections, never bother to consider. USA pays most expensive bribes
of anywhere, to lawyers.

Mar. 15 2012 12:09 PM
Muriel from CT

Working as manager of restaurant on Cape Cod, Mass. Man came into office, was from Mass. Dept of Transportation, said "sign was too close to the road". I commented that there were many signs at that particular point - exit from the mid-Cape highway. He kept saying, "Lady, you don't get my drift." I finally phoned the previous owner who told me, "Oh yes, you have to give him $100 a year." I didn't, but the owner did to avoid a fuss. Multiply the number of signs on Cape Cod times $100. That state worker must have done quite well every year requiring a bribe vs. getting a citation or having to move the sign.

Mar. 15 2012 12:05 PM
John "B"

I took an unearned tax cut for voting republican. A bribe TO me I guess.

Mar. 15 2012 11:58 AM
David from San Juan, PR

Associated Press just published (March 15) an article on Mexico's government investigation of bribes paid by US companies to Mexico federal and state government officials. This is evidence that efforts are underway to address the problem of government corruption and companies that are complacent with this corruption in a place where bribery is believed to be a common cost of business.

Mar. 15 2012 11:56 AM
Alya from chinatown, NY

growing up in belarus at the end of the ussr times , i remember my parents being frustrated with bribery becoming the only way to get things done. they felt the reason for this was a big political mess of 1980s and absence of people being fearful of punishment.
nowadays in belarus there is very little bribery citizens deal with on a daily basis. the reason is the dictator in power. he has a personal interest in punishing people for bribing. i disagree with his ways, but i guess my point is
unless we deal with highly moral society, human nature will give and accept "presents' , unless there is a great fear of punishment. Thank you

Mar. 15 2012 11:53 AM
Mohammed from Brooklyn

Corruption is what affluent politicians and money people engage in to make more money and amass even more power.

The token amount traffic police and office workers take in Ghana, where I am from, is not corruption. These people need these tips in order to survive--their monthly pay won't even last them a week if they depend solely on it. I often give without even being asked, as a form of alms giving and helping these poor folks.

Petty bribery and corruption will stop once these folks have salaries that can last them through the month. Until then, all this discussion is merely academic.

Mar. 15 2012 11:52 AM
Chris from Queens

I'm currently reading "The Dictator's Handbook," and according to the authors petty corruption is a pretty good policy for leaders that don't have to win the support of large coalitions (this would be autocracies or transitional / distorted democracies). Leaders can foster corruption by underpaying public servants, forcing them to be corrupt to make a living wage (and more corrupt if they so wish). Not only does this leave money free to pay off the leader's essential supporters, but it ensures that the corrupt remain loyal by keeping them on the hook for illegal activity should they displease the regime. It's unfortunate, but petty bribery and corruption are good politics in some situations. This also helps to explain why we don't see much petty bribery in Western-style democracies - the voters have a voice to stamp such things out. Lacking such a voice, bribery is a rather natural course of events.

Mar. 15 2012 11:50 AM

When my uncle died in Puert Rico, funeral arrangements were stalled by the morgue's claims that broken refrigeration units had caused a backlog and we wouldnt get the body for at least 4 days. A friend in the know mentioned that $200 would clear it all up. 2 hours later the body was released

Mar. 15 2012 11:47 AM
Elaine from Baltimore

The funniest story I heard was a friend of mine who was traveling from Uman back home with his son and the son of a friend, both minors. When they were at customs in Uman, he was told that the visa had expired of the young boy and that he couldn't leave. My friend noticed a large sign on the wall behind the customs official. It said "Do Not Bribe the Customs Officials", which can only mean one thing....
My friend slipped some money in the boy's passport and off they went without a hitch.

Mar. 15 2012 11:47 AM
Matt from Cattaraugus county , ny

Lobbyism = bribery = corruption.
Why is it accepted?!

Mar. 15 2012 11:46 AM
Jack from new york city

The expectation to "tip" doormen where you live in NYC seems like bribery to me, at least in some buildings.

Mar. 15 2012 11:46 AM
Bonn from East Village

I taught ESL many years ago. I was told by a Japanese student that the way for them to get their drivers' licenses was to bribe the DMV workers. $100 was the going rate.

Mar. 15 2012 11:46 AM

I've worked at a few clothing companies in midtown; whenever we need lightbulbs changed or the greet fixed, the building maintenance guy is usually given some free pants or shirts to ensure it actually gets done.

Mar. 15 2012 11:45 AM
emmanuel from westchester

The biggest bribery I've seen happens on wall street. However, they don't call it bribery there.. they call it bonuses.

Mar. 15 2012 11:43 AM
Francisco from LA

What's the difference between lobbying and bribery?

Mar. 15 2012 11:41 AM
James from Brooklyn

The only time I actually ever paid a bribe was while traveling in Switzerland, believe it or not. I was told the only way I could get a train ticket to pay the conductor otherwise I'd have to wait until the next day.

Here in New York I had a Verizon technician tell me that my phone line repair would cost me a "lot of money" unless he said the problem had originated somewhere else. He literally held out his hand looking at me. I reported him to Verizon and was scared for my life and did anything I could to avoid Verizon trucks for a long time after that.

Mar. 15 2012 11:41 AM
David from West Hempstead

I spent a summer in the mid-2000s in Nigeria. When driving between cities, our car would be routinely stopped at checkpoints where police loitered with machine guns collecting patheticallly small bribes. (100 Naira = 1USD, the bribes were frequently a couple hundred Naira) It was pretty frightening, especially because there was some additional risk brought on by our being American.

Mar. 15 2012 11:06 AM
Andrew from Manhattan, New York

When I moved to NYC from Boston, one of the first things to go was paid broadcast television. It was 9 months before I moved, and when I did, I bribed the technician and he hijacked my cable for $40. I now have basic broadcast (that I could get with an expensive digital converter) at no monthly cost. Only in New York, right? Haha

Mar. 15 2012 10:50 AM
Max from Northern NJ

How ironic that today's program should lead with "Shake the Money Tree" and include a segment on bribery. In most of the world, bribery is driven by need, and resides at the low end, where The State meets the People. In the United States, bribery is at the top, and is motivated by greed, making it far more pernicious and difficult to eliminate.

Mar. 15 2012 10:10 AM
john from office

francyne from bronx
So we are to believe that a PO put his pension and job on the line for $20.00. Sounds more like your are making things up. Where were you "abroad" Finland? Trying to give a black eye to USA and NYPD at the same time, thats your goal.

Mar. 15 2012 09:49 AM
francyne from bronx

In all my travels, I've never paid a bribe while abroad. When I drove a car here at home I was a speed demon, frequently pulled over for speeding. kept a $20 in the plastic container with my DL. It worked about 50% of the time.

Mar. 15 2012 08:41 AM

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