This page contains answers to some frequently asked questions about corruption.
Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This is how corruption is defined in the strategy drawn up by the anti-corruption cooperation network. Corruption can be defined in a number of ways, but norm-breaching actions and pursuit of some kind of advantage are mentioned in most definitions.
The advantage being pursued through corruption is usually undue, meaning that the person pursuing it is not entitled to it. The advantage may come in a variety of forms, and it often improves the position of its recipient, at least momentarily. The advantage is not time-bound: it can be received well before the abuse of entrusted power or considerably after it.
Drawing the line between beneficial networking and condemnable corruption is often difficult. Circumstances, the position of the persons involved, and the nature of the advantage, among other things, affect the overall assessment of the case. The court is the instance that eventually draws the line between criminal and non-criminal activities.
It is, however, always beneficial to assess one's own actions and how they may seem from outside. You could, for example, ask yourself: if media would like to investigate the case and publish an article of it, could this jeopardise the credibility of some person or organisation? Activities may be ethically questionable even if they do not constitute an actual criminal offence.
Corrupt activities may be undertaken by private individuals, public officials, politicians, and business and industrial operators. A company may also be criminally liable.
Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. 'Power' does not in this context refer merely to the power of decision. It may also refer to the exercise of influence over someone else's actions, behaviour, opinions or decision-making.
Giving, offering, receiving or requesting advantages constitute corruption, if the act affects the other person's actions or behaviour in an unethical manner.
Corrupt activities are often investigated as offences in public office, bribery offences, fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of insider information. However, corruption is a widespread and complex phenomenon, and not all forms of corruption are criminalised and thus punishable.
Bribery offences are probably the most clearly punishable ones. The punishment for bribery offences varies from a fine to imprisonment for two years. If the value of a bribe is considerable, the offence may be considered aggravated, in which case the punishment is imprisonment for at least four months and at most four years.
There is very little so-called street-level corruption in Finland. Most often, corruption is hidden in different networks and structures of society. Most of corruption is hidden crime. Therefore, we know only a little about the corruption occurring in Finland, and the statistics of the police or courts do not provide a sufficiently comprehensive picture of the corruption situation in our country.
Corruption-free countries do not exist, and this holds true also for Finland. In international comparison, anti-corruption measures carried out in Finland are rather scarce. Authorities do not actively strive to reveal corruption, which, for its part, makes it more difficult to determine the actual extent of the phenomenon.
Studies show, however, that corruption exists in Finland at all levels of society and in many sectors and contexts. Read more about the high-risk sectors on the page Corruption in Finland.
A broad range of ministries, authorities and other actors are engaged in anti-corruption work. The Ministry of Justice has set up an anti-corruption cooperation network, but there is no separate agency for anti-corruption activities in Finland.
A clear legislation plays a key role in the comprehensive combating of corruption. The legislation must have a preventive impact and provide the authorities with sufficient possibilities and necessary tools to intervene in any malpractice. Important factors behind the successful prevention of corruption in Finland are also the well-functioning inter-authority collaboration and the sufficient authorisation to exchange information between the authorities.
Citizens and media also play a crucial role in the prevention of corruption related to decision-making.
Whether you are a private individual, public official, politician or business representative, you may lead by example and thereby affect the general atmosphere. Everyone should do their bit to make their own organisation and the entire Finnish society as corruption-free as possible.
Corruption has serious consequences both for individuals and for society. It slows down economic development, distorts the use of tax revenues, increases inequality and environmental damage, and undermines democracy. Fighting corruption is everyone's responsibility, and it also works for everyone's benefit.
Every organisation should have guidelines establishing the procedure to follow if an employee suspects or detects malpractice. Some organisations may have an internal reporting system, while others advise the employees to report any suspicions to the superior.
Internal reporting may not always feel like a good idea, especially if you suspect that your superior is involved in the malpractice. In such a case, it is best to report the case to some external actor.
There is no designated anti-corruption agency investigating suspected cases of corruption in Finland. Many authorities do, however, accept and process reports on different kinds of malpractice. If you suspect that an offence has been committed, you should contact the police.