Compliance Glossary

Passive Bribery

Passive bribery describes the actions taken by the person receiving the bribe. The bribe is considered passive, whether the person did or did not induce or coerce the briber in any way. 

What is Passive Bribery?

Any deliberate actions taken to secure an advantage are considered passive bribery. This includes asking for a bribe, demanding a bribe, and receiving a bribe. If any, or multiple, of these actions, are taken then a person has engaged in passive bribery.  

What are Some Examples of Passive Bribery?

Some examples of passive bribery include:

  • Security personnel being bribed to allow access for theft
  • An employee of a financial institution accepting a bribe to give away customer data
  • A procurement employee receiving a kickback to award a contract to a third party vendor

What is the Difference Between Active and Passive Bribery?

The most significant difference between active and passive bribery is who the actions are taken by. Passive bribery actions are taken by the person on the receiving end of the bribe and active bribery actions are taken by the person giving the bribe. They are two ends of the same stick. 

It is debated if “passive” is the correct term to describe the act, as it implies that one of the parties is less responsible for the bribe than the other. Each bribery case has its nuances, but the point here is that it takes two to tango. “Passive” in this context does not necessarily mean that no actions were taken. It merely means that the person was on the receiving end of the bribe. 

Is Passive Bribery Legal in Some Countries?

Although the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) addresses only active bribery, corporations and countries still care about both forms. The UK Bribery Act takes a more holistic approach to corruption and addresses both passive and active bribery.

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