Defining the crime

An outline of the different forms corrupt acts can take

The World Today
2 minute READ

Sean Hagan

Counsel and Director of the Legal Department, IMF. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF management or its Executive Board

Perhaps the most widely accepted definition of corruption is the ‘abuse of public office for private gain’. However, this definition begs an important question: what constitutes an ‘abuse’ of public office?

While a survey of anti-corruption practice and academic literature reveals a diversity of approaches, it is relatively clear that – at a minimum – the international community recognizes ‘corrupt’ acts as those that involve criminality.

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