How to recognise corruption

The most important thing is to prevent corruption, but what if misconduct has already happened? If the situation is addressed in time, it may still be salvaged.

Corruption in all its forms is damaging and unfair. The aim of corruption is to channel undue advantages to parties not entitled to them, which inevitably leads to a situation where someone else suffers. That is why we should never condone or ignore corruption.

Authorities keep improving their methods of recognising corruption. However, it is not just the authorities who fight corruption; it is important that we all try to recognise and prevent corruption whatever our position.

Fighting corruption is everyone's responsibility, and it also works for everyone's benefit.

Stay alert – spot the warning signs

Below you will find some events and situations that may involve corruption. Have you noticed any of them at work or in some other organisation?

Problems with decision-making

Secrets. Documents and information that according to law are public have not been published. Employees or stakeholders are not told about decisions or the reasons for them.

Decisions that repeatedly benefit a partner. Interests of the organisation and employees are constantly marginalised based on vague criteria.

Centralised power. Functions such as contract management, ordering and invoice processing are the responsibility of one person or department, and they are not properly monitored.

Conflicts of interest and dual roles. For example, a person is responsible for procurement even though his or her close relative owns a company that is submitting a tender for a contract.

Financial ambiguities

Dubious invoices. Invoices do not show clearly and simply what is being charged.

Very large payments. The payment amount is higher than the actual price of the service or product.

Very large entertainment expenses. Unusually large amounts have been spent to entertain an external party.

Deficiencies or mistakes in financial reporting. Money has gone missing or been added but its source has not been included or justified in the reporting.

Suspicious procurements

Very large or unreasonable procurements. Someone has ordered material for the organisation without any real use for it.

Approving poor products or services. A partner is not changed for a better one even though its products or services continue to have problems.

One service provider keeps winning contracts. A service or product is regularly opened up to competitive tendering but the same company always wins the contract.

Direct award of contracts. Orders are placed for products without competitive tendering or sustainable and legal grounds or against guidelines.

Competitive tendering shows signs of cartels

Surprising lack of tenders. A company that was thought of as a certain candidate to tender for a contract does not do so.

Unusual tenders. One tender is very different from the others without a clear reason.

Withdrawing from competitive tendering. One of the tenderers voluntarily withdraws.

Deliberate failure. One of the tenderers makes an elementary mistake which drops the company out of the competitive tendering.

Companies win in turns. Out of a group of companies, each makes the best offer in turn.

Losing companies become subcontractors. The company that won the competitive tendering uses the losing companies as its subcontractors.

Surprising joint tenders. Competing companies submit a joint tender even though one could win the contract without the others.

Questionable motives in recruitment

Nepotism and favouritism. For example, the job criteria are tailored to fit a friend. Or an employee’s relative is not the most competent candidate but still gets the job.

Revolving doors. For example, an ex-politician is hired by a company as a thank-you for promoting the sector’s interests.

Who should I tell?

Sometimes actions may seem suspicious even though there are good reasons for them. But keeping quiet about your suspicions may harm your organisation or public interest. If you think misconduct has taken place, you should talk about it as soon as possible.

See the instructions for reporting corruption.