Reasons for the Prevalent Misappropriation of Public Funds by Officials in CIS Countries

Thorough analysis of the nature, content and determinants of the offence of misappropriation of public funds by officials, it gives grounds to reach the conclusion that a lot of different reasons somehow ‘provoke’ and ‘give the possibility’ to commit this offence.

The following bullet points identify the main speculated reasons:

  • The delay of legislative processes from the realities of life and as a result the lack of proper regulations.
  • The impunity of senior officials through their influence on the judiciary and relevant law enforcement agencies.
  • The use of power, status, position, and authority in order to satisfy personal interests or the interests of third parties.
  • Bribery and corruption.
  • The existence of the shadow economy.
  • The participation of oligarchs in political processes.

Each of these reasons have a negative impact on the state, therefore, they deserve special attention and consideration, however it should be noted that they are quite extensive and may be subject to separate consideration.

There are many different definitions of corruption and among them, it is possible to distinguish the following definition. Corruption is an unlawful activity that is in use by officials to abuse their rights and opportunities for their own personal enrichment. Corruption in its nature includes bribery, which describes the process of corruption. A bribe is an illegal remuneration of material nature. Both, accepting a bribe and giving it is forbidden and punishable by the law. Receiving a bribe by the official constitutes an acceptance of illegal remuneration for the performance or non-performance in the interests of the person giving the bribe or the benefit of a third party of any action available to it by using power or services position.

At an international level, the issue against corruption and bribery is regulate by the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Another act that covers this issue is The Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. Moreover, in each country the issue of corruption is governed by internal regulations.

Moreover, corruption can be defined as a complex social phenomenon occurring in the implementation of power relations, authorised powers by person that using power given to them to meet their personal interests (interests of third parties), and to create conditions for the implementation of corruption, conceal these activities and promote them. Corruption in CIS countries has become one of threats to national security.

Social influence lies in the fact that corruption has two social subsystems: official (adhered to legal and ethical standards) and unofficial (using illegal methods). Economic impacts consist in the fact that corruption affects all sectors of the economy. Imperious impacts show that corruption affects the formation of state power bodies including all branches of government in the formulation and implementation of public policy. As a result, during the formation of representative bodies, it is difficult to avoid the influence of corruption.

The political aspect of influence lays in the fact that corruption and fight against it is widely used in the practice of political activity in Russia and Ukraine. It is clear that the situation is particularly acute during the elections. Moreover, during the elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Parliament) in 2010, the police initiated a review of criminal cases against Yulia Tymoshenko (opposition leader), that were considered as political and as a means of pressure on the opposition. In its turn, representatives of opposition parties issued a series of parliamentary inquiries, which require investigation of criminal cases of bribery of top officials. However, criminal cases against those officials were not opened. Moreover, the international dimension of corruption has a negative impact on the international image of Ukraine and impedes, and sometimes blocks the flow of foreign investment.

According to full year statistics from the General Prosecution Service of Ukraine, during 2017 there were registered 2270 criminal offences that were related to bribery and corruption including 1683 charges of accepting a bribe. Criminally liable for bribery most attracted were government officials, officials of the interior ministry, officials and officers of local authorities and customs officials. The largest amount of bribe in 2017, which was documented by the police officers, in Ukraine amounted to USD $ 7 million.

Besides, Transparency International (international NGO against corruption) in their Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 analysed all countries in the issue of the existence of corruption. According to this Index, which processed data of 177 countries, 70% of countries have problems with corruption and embezzlement of public funds. The main reason for the growing corruption in CIS countries is that officials are not afraid to take bribes.

Nowadays, corruption is more than a private matter of two or more people, it is rather a ‘disease’ of a whole country. Corruption is a crime which limits human rights to fair treatment, because when a person gives a bribe he/she has become a privileged person. As the result, the breach of equality occurs. Ignoring this problem does not resolve it, however rather gives the freedom of action to corrupt officials, who feel their impunity. Corruption destroys public trust and destroys social capital. It undermines the laws and regulations that aim to serve productive social objectives.

Primarily, in the fight against corruption, in addition to the relevant legislation, there should be present a political will and readiness of society to change. Public authorities must stand at the head of the fight against corruption, because the main thing is a political will to progressive and systematic actions. Society should press the authorities and they need to elect government that would actually fight against corruption in all its forms.