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Definitions of grand corruption

There is no universally agreed definition of grand corruption. Instead, many general definitions have been developed over the years and they cover different elements of what they consider as grand corruption. Nonetheless, there is some consensus on elements such as i) misuse or abuse of high-level power; ii) large scale and/or large sums of money, (iii) harmful consequences. The definitions have also been useful to differentiate grand corruption from other forms of corruption, such as petty corruption. With high-level corruption scandals usually remaining unpunished, there have been increased efforts to establish a legal definition of grand corruption, as a first step towards the empowerment of national and international authorities with better legal tools to pursue corrupt high-level officials and to end impunity.

1 October 2020
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Main points

  • Some general definitions of grand corruption agree on i) misuse or abuse of high-level power; ii) large scale and/or large sums of money, (iii) harmful consequences. These elements from general definitions have been useful when differentiating grand corruption from other forms of corruption, such as petty corruption.
  • Recently, efforts have been made to establish a legal definition of grand corruption. For instance, Transparency International has worked on a draft legal definition, which was released in 2016 and revised in 2019.
  • The main rationale behind efforts for a legal definition is to develop a criminal offence of grand corruption, as a first step towards the empowerment of national and international authorities with better legal tools to pursue corrupt high-level officials and to end impunity.

Cite this publication


Duri, J.; (2020) Definitions of grand corruption. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Helpdesk Answer 2020:25)

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About the author

Jorum is a Research Coordinator at Transparency International, with his primary responsibilities at the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk.

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Keywords


grand corruption