How do big companies bribe officials

Corruption: When German officials hold up their hands

German civil servants enjoy a worldwide reputation for being perfect public servants. They are considered competent, reliable, punctual - and above all incorruptible. But this image is getting scratched. Because the number of preliminary proceedings against corrupt federal officials rose sharply in 2015. This emerges from the latest report by the federal government on “Corruption Prevention in the Federal Administration”, which is available to this newspaper.

According to this, the law enforcement authorities initiated 28 preliminary proceedings against several federal employees in the past year for corruption offenses. In 2014 and 2013 there were only 19 preliminary investigations, in 2012 only twelve. The results of the investigation were collected in the Ministry of the Interior, which had made inquiries to all federal agencies and ministries. Suspected corruption offenses affect 33 civil servants, employees and other public service workers. The list of allegations is long: it ranges from bribery and the acceptance of advantages to fraud and breach of trust.

In the current corruption perception index from Transparency International, Germany still does relatively well in an international comparison. The Federal Republic, along with Great Britain and Luxembourg, ranks fifth in the EU in the study that analyzes corruption in the public sector. The result: a clear north-south divide. Bribery of civil servants is less common in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands than in Germany. The most vulnerable to corruption in the EU are civil servants in Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Romania, Italy and Bulgaria.

Most of the corruption allegations against the Foreign Office

The federal government's internal investigation shows, however, that bribes are no longer a rare means of payment in the German state apparatus either. Most of the allegations concern the Federal Foreign Office. It recorded eleven new criminal cases against a total of 15 suspects. Ten suspected cases relate to improper issuing of visas.

Irregularities in the issuing of visas are a classic among the corruption cases in federal ministries; the employees in the visa sections are particularly at risk of corruption because of their numerous personal contacts with applicants.