The act of giving money, goods or other forms of recompense to a recipient in exchange for an alteration of their behavior (to the benefit/interest of the giver) that the recipient would otherwise not alter is referred to as Bribery.
Gifts of money or other items of value which are otherwise available to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, is not bribery. Offering a discount or a refund to all purchasers is a legal rebate and is not bribery. For example, it is legal for an employee of a Public Utilities Commission involved in electric rate regulation to accept a rebate on electric service that reduces their cost for electricity, when the rebate is available to other residential electric customers. Giving the rebate to influence them to look favorably on the electric utility’s rate increase applications, however, would be considered bribery.
The bribe is the gift bestowed to influence the recipient’s conduct. It may be money, goods, rights in action, property, preferment, privileges, emolument, objects of value, advantage, or merely a promise to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or public capacity like the case of a Ugandan minister was charged with corruption offenses on Tuesday after he was arrested for allegedly taking a bribe.
Herbert Kabafunzaki, junior minister for labor, employment and industrial relations, was arrested in the capital Kampala and Uganda Police says he was arrested moments after receiving 5 million Ugandan shillings ($1,385) as part-payment of a larger bribe he had solicited from the hotel owner to help clear him of sexual harassment allegations by one of his female workers.
One must be careful of differing social and cultural norms when examining bribery. Expectations of when a monetary transaction is appropriate can differ from place to place. Political campaign contributions in the form of cash, for example, are considered criminal acts of bribery in some countries, while in the United States, provided they adhere to election law, are legal. Tipping, for example, is considered bribery in some societies, while in others it is not.
The offence may be divided into two great classes: the one, where a person invested with power is induced by payment to use it unjustly; the other, where power is obtained by purchasing the suffrage of those who can impart it. Likewise, the briber might hold a powerful role and control the transaction; or in other cases, a bribe may be effectively extracted from the person paying it, although this is better known as extortion.
Bribery takes many forms. For example, a motorist might bribe a police officer not to issue a ticket for speeding, a patient seeking treatment might bribe a Doctor for faster service. Secret commission is another form bribery where a profit is made by an agent, in the course of his employment, without the knowledge of his principal. Euphemisms abound for this (commission, sweetener, kick-back etc.) Bribers and recipients of bribery are likewise numerous although bribers have one common denominator and that is the financial ability to bribe.
From a legal point of view, active bribery can be defined for instance as the promising, offering or giving by any person, directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage to any public official, for himself or herself or for anyone else, for him or her to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions while Passive bribery can be defined as the request or receipt by any public official], directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage, for himself or herself or for anyone else, or the acceptance of an offer or a promise of such an advantage, to act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her functions.
The reason for this dissociation is to make the early steps , that is, offering, promising, requesting an advantage of a corrupt deal already an offense and, thus, to give a clear signal (from a criminal policy point of view) that bribery is not acceptable. Besides, such a dissociation makes the prosecution of bribery offenses easier since it can be very difficult to prove that two parties (the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker) have formally agreed upon a corrupt deal. Besides, there is often no such formal deal but only a mutual understanding, for instance when it is common knowledge in a municipality that to obtain a building permit one has to pay a “fee” to the decision maker to obtain a favorable decision.