The Two Faces of Bribery: International Corruption Pathways Meet Conflicting Legislative Regimes

Suppose a government agency tasks its purchasing agent with buying a set of computer servers for the agency’s use, and the agent contacts a technology company to make the purchase. After selecting the needed servers, the agent learns of the servers’ fair market value but does not negotiate with the technology company to obtain the lowest possible price. Instead, unbeknownst to the government, the agent agrees with the technology company’s sales manager to purchase the servers on behalf of the government for an amount significantly above their fair market value, and, in return, the company agrees to give the agent a hefty side payment for inflating the company’s profits. In this scenario, the technology company gives a side payment to the purchasing agent to influence the agent’s official act–purchasing the servers for the government. Their agreement fits the classic definition of public sector bribery, a crime outlawed in virtually every jurisdiction in the world. Both parties could face heavy prison sentences and fines for engaging in this corrupt act.