How Does Corruption Develop?
It is common knowledge that many different factors aid in the progression of a culture of corruption within a respective country, organization, or even a group of individuals. Once corrupt activities are adopted, they tend to spread like wildfire, eventually creating a large obstacle to economic development, and pose a significant threat to financial security on the global scale. However, while many of the factors that contribute to the growth of corruption are well-noted, a question emerges in regards to how different entities initially become involved in these forms of activities. Many believe that corruption is built up gradually over time, as several small, individual acts eventually come to equal a prolonged series of corrupt activity. Yet an article written by The Atlantic, cited in BSA News Now on Friday, January 27th, 2017, reports on a study published in Psychological Science that “argues that people are more likely to abruptly do something extremely unethical than to slowly build up to it—to cannonball into corruption” (Beck, 2017).
While the results of the study, which centered around a bribery game to test the morality of the subjects, demonstrated that the individuals involved do understand and acknowledge that they are engaged in corrupt activity in that moment, it also found that it was “less difficult to rationalize a small ethical breach than a big one” (Beck, 2017). This is due to personal and psychological factors such as cognitive dissonance and reconciliation, as Psychological Science discovered. It is also believed that as the number of ethical breaches add up, that individuals will no longer see their actions as “unethical.” Other studies have shown that this gradual lowering of moral standards “is how corruption gets normalized in organizations” (Beck, 2017).
On the other hand, experts believe that a single instance of corruption can be easier for an individual to justify from a psychological standpoint than would a series of actions. This would essentially allow for an individual to write this lone occasion off as being not truly indicative of whom they truly are. A series of corrupt actions would call for more occasions of introspection, thus a greater chance that the individual would not be able to justify their activity. Others also believe that social processes can also play a large role in an entity becoming involved in corruption. While the results of this study allow for a better look into the mind of corrupt individuals, more research is undoubtedly required to get a true understanding of the driving force behind corruption at different levels of society.
Who’s Most Corrupt?
This past week, Global RADAR reported on a Business Insider article that released the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ranking of the world’s top corruption-fighting countries. This week, CNBC published Transparency International’s annual review of the most corrupt countries in the world. The list, which “draws on a mix of business and government sources for its rankings”, found that South Sudan, North Korea, and Syria are all challenging for the title of the world’s most corrupt country, but the spot is still held by a country that has been no stranger to this list in the past (Sile, 2017). Somalia, which has held the unpleasant title of world’s most corrupt country for the past ten years, once again topped the list in 2016.
However, countries found in the Middle East suffered by far the most drastic declines on the corruption index in this latest review. This was led by “Qatar, which fell 10 scores from the previous year due to scandals such as FIFA’s decision to host the World Cup 2022 in Qatar amid reports of migrant workers abuse” (Sile, 2017).
Israeli Chief Rabbi Imprisoned on Corruption
The former Chief Rabbi of Israel has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison on charges for corruption after accepting a plea deal this past week. Yona Metzger, who had held the position of Israeli Chief Rabbi for over ten years, must also pay a fine in excess of $1.3 million. Investigations into Metzger’s suspicious activities began in 2005, as Israeli police suspected he was accepting illegal bribes and benefits, which he continually denied. Although no charges were brought against Metzger in relation to that set of allegations, he was forced to step down from his position in 2013 “amidst charges of breach of trust, fraud, tax offenses, money laundering, theft, and accepting bribes” related to charity donations for profit in Jerusalem (Sputnik, 2017). Metzger is now reportedly “the highest-ranking rabbi to go to prison for corruption” (Sputnik, 2017).
Ex-Gambian Dictator on the Run
As originally reported by the LA Times, the ex-President of the small West African country of Gambia granted the republic a unique parting gift following his departure from power in December. Yahya Jammeh, who held power in Gambia for 22 years, is accused of withdrawing more than “$11.4 million from banks in the past two weeks before fleeing to exile in Equatorial Guinea” (Dixon, 2017). The move has reportedly left Gambia in a state of great financial distress, and with Jammeh no longer in the country, the chances of recovering the embezzled funds remain unfavorable. Jammeh has been synonymous with controversy in the past, as he has been accused of human rights abuses on several occasions, including the “jailing and ‘disappearing’ of political opponents and critics without trial” (Dixon, 2017).
It has been proposed that the United States could choose to use the relatively new Magnitsky Act to aid Gambia in the recovery of these funds, although newly-elected President Trump has shown a lack of interest in African affairs in general since his election. The Act would enable “U.S. authorities to seize the property of any foreign government official responsible for stealing public money or human rights abuses” (Dixon, 2017).
Beck, Julie. “Does Corruption Happen Slowly, or All at Once?” The
Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 26 Jan. 2017. Web.
Dixon, Robyn. “In a Final Insult, Gambia’s Ex-leader Looted Millions
of Dollars, His Successor Says.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 23 Jan. 2017. Web.
“Israel’s Ex-Chief Rabbi Goes to Jail For Corruption.” Sputnik News.
Sputnik International, 25 Jan. 2017. Web.
Sile, Aza Wee. “These Are the World’s Most Corrupt Countries.”
CNBC. CNBC, 25 Jan. 2017. Web.