Anti-Corruption Glossary

ACCESS TO INFORMATION

The right by law – often through freedom of information legislation (acts or laws) – to access key facts and data from the government and any public body based on the notion that citizens can obtain information which is in the possession of the state.

CIVIL SOCIETY

The arena, outside of the family, state and market where people associate to advance a common set of interests. Voluntary and community groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trade unions and faith-based organisations commonly are included in this sphere, making the term broader than an NGO.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Situation where an individual or the entity for which they work, whether a government, business, media outlet or civil society organisation, is confronted with choosing between the duties and demands of their position and their own private interests

EMBEZZLEMENT

When a person holding office in an institution, organisation or company dishonestly and illegally appropriates, uses or traffics the funds and goods they have been entrusted with for personal enrichment or other activities.

BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP

A beneficial owner is the real person who ultimately owns, controls or benefits from a company or trust fund and the income it generates. The term is used to contrast with the legal or nominee company owners and with trustees, all of whom might be registered the legal owners of an asset without actually possessing the right to enjoy its benefits. Complex and opaque corporate structures set up across different jurisdictions, make it easy to hide the beneficial owner, especially when nominees are used in their place and when part of the structure is incorporated in a secrecy jurisdiction.

ACCOUNTABILITY

The concept  that individuals, agencies and organisations (public, private and civil society) are held responsible for reporting their activities and executing their powers properly. It also includes the responsibility for money or other entrusted property

BRIBERY

The offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of an advantage as an inducement for an action which is illegal, unethical or a breach of trust. Inducements can take the form of gifts, loans, fees, rewards or other advantages (taxes, services, donations, favours etc.)

COLLUSION

A secret agreement between parties, in the public and/or private sector, to conspire to commit actions aimed to deceive or commit fraud with the objective of illicit financial gain. The parties involved often are referred to as ‘cartels’

CORRUPTION

The abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.

FRAUD

To cheat. The offence of intentionally deceiving someone in order to gain an unfair or illegal advantage (financial, political or otherwise). Countries consider such offences to be criminal or a violation of civil law

DISCLOSURE

Provision of information as required under law or in good faith, regarding activities of a private individual, public official, company or organisation. Information can include a political candidate’s assets, a company’s financial reports, an NGO’s donors or a whistleblower’s accusations.

EXTORTION

Act of utilising, either directly or indirectly, one’s access to a position of power or knowledge to demand unmerited cooperation or compensation as a result of coercive threats.

FACILITATION PAYMENT

A small bribe, also called a ‘facilitating’, ‘speed’ or ‘grease’ payment; made to secure or expedite the performance of a routine or necessary action to which the payer has legal or other entitlement

MONEY LAUNDERING

Money laundering is the process of concealing the origin, ownership or destination of illegally or dishonestly obtained money by hiding it within legitimate economic activities to make them appear legal

GOVERNANCE

A concept that goes beyond the traditional notion of government to focus on the relationships between leaders, public institutions and citizens, including the processes by which they make and implement decisions. The term can also be applied to companies and NGOs.  
‘Good’ governance is characterised as being participatory, accountable, transparent, efficient, responsive and inclusive, respecting the rule of law and minimising opportunities for corruption.

ETHICS

Based on core values and norms, a set of standards for conduct in government, companies and society that guides decisions, choices and actions.

INTEGRITY

Behaviours and actions consistent with a set of moral or ethical principles and standards, embraced by individuals as well as institutions, that create a barrier to corruption

OVERSIGHT

The process of independently monitoring and investigating – internally or externally – the operations and activities of a government agency, company or civil society organisation to ensure accountability and efficient use of resources.

RULE OF LAW

Legal and political systems, structures and practices that condition a government’s actions to protect citizens’ rights and liberties, maintain law and order, and encourage the effective functioning of the country.

TAX EVASION

Tax evasion is the illegal non-payment or under-payment of taxes, usually by deliberately making a false declaration or no declaration to tax authorities – such as by declaring less income, profits or gains than the amounts actually earned, or by overstating deductions. It entails criminal or civil legal penalties

SECRECY JURISDICTION

Secrecy jurisdictions are territories, including cities, states/provinces and countries that encourage the relocation of otherwise foreign economic and financial transactions through strong privacy protection rules. These jurisdictions ensure that the identity of those relocating their money through them cannot be disclosed. This often undermines legislation and regulation of another jurisdiction. Many secrecy jurisdictions are also tax havens.

TRANSPARENCY

Characteristic of governments, companies, organisations and individuals of being open in the clear disclosure of information, rules, plans, processes and actions. As a principle, public officials, civil servants, the managers and directors of companies and organisations, and board trustees have a duty to act visibly, predictably and understandably to promote participation and accountability and allow third parties to easily perceive what actions are being performed

SOLICITATION

The act of a person asking, ordering or enticing someone else to commit bribery or another crime.

NEPOTISM

Form of favouritism based on acquaintances and familiar relationships whereby someone in an official position exploits his or her power and authority to provide a job or favour to a family member or friend, even though he or she may not be qualified or deserving

POLITICAL WILL

Demonstration and commitment by political leaders to address the challenges facing society or to fulfil a political pledge, such as fighting corruption or increasing political participation, by pursuing the appropriate policy responses, including wide-spread reforms.

WHISTLEBLOWING

Making a disclosure in the public interest by an employee, director or external person, in an attempt to reveal neglect or abuses within the activities of an organisation, government body or company (or one of its business partners) that threaten public interest, its integrity and reputation