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Bribes can involve more than just money

When most people think of bribery, they assume that it is very straightforward. They imagine someone giving a politician an envelope full of money in exchange for a favorable vote, for instance.

These types of things do happen, but it is important to remember that bribery can go far beyond that. Other items that may be offered include:

  • Real estate property
  • Various physical goods
  • Future services
  • Privileges
  • Favors

For instance, a company may want the support of a local political official. Perhaps the company is in violation of the local zoning laws. Relocation is going to cost an incredible amount of money, but the company's owner knows that this official can change the zoning or give the company a variance so that the company no longer has to follow the rules.

Rather than offering the official money directly, the owner may offer the official free goods and services in the future in exchange for the variance. He or she can just show up and take advantage of this free, under-the-table exchange forever if this one ruling goes in the company's favor.

No money changed hands. Perhaps the official and the owner assumed that meant it was not a bribe and that they would face no legal ramifications. However, it could still count as a bribe since those goods and services have a very real value. That monetary value is still changing hands, even if cash is not.

All those accused of bribery need to know their rights and their legal defense options, especially if they did not realize they were violating the law at the time.

Source: FindLaw, "Bribery," accessed May 03, 2018

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