Investopedia defines it as “dishonest behavior by those in positions of power, such as managers or government officials. Corruption can include giving or accepting bribes or inappropriate gifts, double-dealing, under-the-table transactions, manipulating elections, diverting funds, laundering money and defrauding investors.”1
Transparency International, which works to expose corruption among governments, companies and wealthy or powerful people, defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.2 This can involve cronyism, where someone’s friends are given valuable contracts outside the normal market tendering process, and nepotism, where a relative is appointed to a position of power even though they are unqualified or unsuitable for the role.
The two sources for it are the Corruption Perception Index, which has been published by Transparency International since 1995, and the Control of Corruption (CoC) Index, which is one of the six Worldwide Governance Indicators that have been published by the World Bank since 1996. The CoC “reflects perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as ‘capture’ of the state by elites and private interests”.3
Some financial crime broadly falls under the banner of corruption, though money laundering and insider dealing are seen as specific crimes in their own right. Ponzi schemes in which profits are paid to investors using the income from newer investors instead of an underlying asset is similarly viewed as financial fraud. The biggest pure source of corruption remains bribery, which has often proved commonplace in emerging markets that lack regulation or a properly functioning judicial system.
Many companies including Robeco put limits on the value of gifts that employees can receive as presents or hospitality to avoid charges of undue influence.