Below are some key terms related to anti-corruption. All definitions are taken from either the Cambridge Dictionary ( or the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre ( For a more complete and detailed list, please see the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre (


a situation in which someone is responsible for things that happen and can give a satisfactory reason for them


A term used to designate the range of approaches to combat corruption. Many broader good governance and democracy-promotion approaches produce similar outcomes, even if they are not explicitly labelled as “anti-corruption.”


the crime of giving someone, especially someone in a position of authority, money, a gift, etc. so that they will do something illegal or dishonest for you

conflict of interest

a situation in which someone cannot make a fair decision because they will be personally affected by the result


illegal, bad, or dishonest behaviour, especially by people in positions of power


the situation in which someone important gives jobs to friends rather than to independent people who have the necessary skills and experience

grand corruption

In contrast to “petty corruption”, high-level or “grand” corruption is perpetrated at the highest levels of government and usually involves both substantial benefits for the officials involved and significant losses for the state and its citizens. Corruption at this level is also sometimes referred to as political corruption.


the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change

money laundering

the crime of moving money that has been obtained illegally through banks and other businesses to make it seem as if the money has been obtained legally


the act of using your power or influence to get good jobs or unfair advantages for members of your own family

petty corruption

Alternatively called “administrative” or “bureaucratic” corruption, the term refers to the everyday corruption that takes place when bureaucrats meet the public. While the sums of money involved tend to be small, they are far from “petty” for the people concerned. Examples include paying bribes to get an ID; enrol in school; or have a phone line installed.


the process by which an organization buys the products or services it needs from other organizations


Rent-seeking is to lobby the government for protection, subsidies, and preferential policies for a business. The aim is to avoid competition in the free market and to achieve monopoly-like situations and super-profits (rents). The lobbying involved often include buying of public officials and politicians – ie corrupt practices.

systemic corruption

 (Also know as endemic corruption). A situation when corruption is an integral part of a state’s economic, social and political system, and where most people have no alternatives to dealing with corrupt officials.


the quality of being done in an open way without secrets


a person who works for a company, organization or government department who tells someone in authority about something illegal that is happening within the company, organization or government department