Public Corruption Explained

Citizens and residents of a country should be able to trust their elected and/or non-elected officials to use their positions appropriately and work in the best interests of the people they represent or for whose welfare they purport to work for. However, it doesn’t always quite work that way. Public corruption, which occurs when a public official uses the position to violate the law and benefit his own private interests, is one of the world’s primary concerns. This highlights the seriousness of public corruption crimes and how easily corrupt officials have infiltrated agencies across the country.

What Is Public Corruption?

Public corruption is a fairly broad term that covers a wide range of misdeeds and abuses of power. It applies to federal, state, and local officials, as well as those in the private sector that assist them in their abuse of power. This crime occurs when a public official receives anything of value—whether they solicit it or it is offered to them and they accept—and allow the bribe to influence how they carry out their duties.

Public Corruption and Money Laundering

Corrupt public officials use a number of techniques to hide their crimes and avoid detection. Public corruption often involves some type of cybercrime, as well. For example, consider a politician receiving a massive donation—more than the legally allowed limit—from a single donor. The donor and politician might arrange to funnel the money through a number of bank accounts.

Others might misuse government funds to benefit financially. An official funneling government funds into his own personal account may commit money laundering by passing the money through fake vendor accounts or dividing deposits into a number of smaller deposits that are less likely to be detected.

A small Baltimore case is an ideal example of how public corruption and money laundering come together. The former Chief of the Division of Transit and Marine Services canceled $60,000 of debt to the city in exchange for a $20,000 cash payment. He also purchased 13 bus shelters using government funds and sold them for personal profit. To disguise the source of the $70,000 he received for the shelters, he funneled the cash payments through two bank accounts in other individuals’ names.

Protecting Financial Institutions from Public Corruption

Every day, banks and other financial institutions unwittingly become part of politicians’ efforts to defraud the public and use their power for personal gain. This is just one reason that implementing strong security and verification systems is so important; as criminals become more and more creative with how they bypass security checks, financial institutions must respond with more complex security protocols.

In many situations, these issues can be prevented or fixed with personnel training and education on common scams. Consider a Manhattan case in which a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee made false statements to his mortgage company and caused a bank manager to tell the mortgage company that he had over $80,000 in his account, despite the fact that he only had $2,000.

If your government or agency has been a victim of corruption, you must act fast to avoid devastating financial fallout. Find a lawyer at STARNet to help you move forward.

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STARNet, which is short for Stolen Asset Recovery Network, is a global alliance of independent law firms created to provide financial institutions and governments with multi-disciplinary services across countries and jurisdictions for locating, freezing, and ultimately recovering stolen assets related to cyber heists, fraud or corruption.

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