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Does a bribe have to be financial to be illegal?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2021 | Public Corruption

When people think of bribery and public corruption, they often think of an official being given money directly if they’ll take a specific action in favor of the person providing the compensation. For instance, a politician may be given $100,000 to vote a certain way on an issue or to veto a law that most voters want. 

These are examples of bribery, but does it have to be financial to be illegal — or even count as a bribe? If you’re accused of taking a bribe, can you counter that no cash ever changed hands? 

Anything of value can be a bribe

A bribe certainly does not have to be strictly financial. It could really be anything of value. As long as the person taking the bribe is gaining in some way and is influenced by that gain, it’s a bribe. 

For instance, the owner of a company may want a public official to vote in their favor. They could offer to transfer the stock into that person’s name in order to get the vote. That’s still a bribe, even though the stock is not technically cash that the person has on hand. It’s tied up in the company. 

This example shows why options like this may be used for a bribe, however. If the official votes in favor of the business, their own stock increases in value. This type of bribe gives them a vested interest in the company’s success and ensures that they’ll take action in that company’s favor for as long as they’re in office. 

Bribes could also include many types of goods and services. Anything that is given in exchange for some specific action could be considered a bribe that breaks the law. If you are accused of taking a bribe, you must know what defense options you have.