Key Difference – Bribery vs Extortion
Bribery is the act of giving money or other valuable items to a person in power, typically a public official, in order to induce the person to take a particular action. Extortion is the act of obtaining money or property by using threats of harm against the victim, or against his property or family. The key difference between bribery and extortion is that extortion uses threats and intimidation to control the victim whereas bribery has more of an equal and voluntary relationship between the two parties.
What is Bribery?
Bribery can be defined as “the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties”. In simple terms, this refers to giving or receiving a bribe. A bribe can take the form of free tickets, discounts, secret commissions, campaign funding, lucrative contracts, sponsorship, etc.
Examples of Bribery
Parents giving money to principal of a school to admit their child to the school
A motorist paying some money to a police officer to stop him from reporting a traffic violation
Making payments to a minister’s re-election campaign in exchange for business contracts in his ministry
A health officer requesting a job for his son in order to ignore a violation
In bribery cases, both parties – the person who gives the bribe and the person who accepts the bribe – are punishable by law as both are equally guilty. The person who receives the bribe might even lose his job and any chance of working for a government office again, in addition to the punishment.
What is Extortion?
Extortion is defined as “the obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under colour of official right” (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law). For example, if someone threatens to harm you or your family if you do not give him what he demands, this is a case of extortion.
Making such a threat is enough to charge a person for extortion. Extortion may not necessarily include physical injury; it is sufficient to threaten to expose a secret that would result in embarrassment or conflict. For example, extortionists may threaten to tell the victim’s wife that he is having an illicit affair with someone. Here, the threat does not relate to an unlawful act.
Extortion can also refer to a public officer using his power to obtain a fee. There are four basic ways which a public officer can commit this offence.
- He might demand a fee that is not allowed by law under the guise of official duty.
- He might take a fee that is greater than the official fee allowed by law.
- He might collect a fee before it’s due.
- He may collect a fee for a service that is not performed.
In all these cases, the person who is making the payment is a victim since he is not a voluntary participant, but is yielding to authority.
What is the difference between Bribery and Extortion?
Bribery is the act of giving money or other valuable items to a person in power, typically a public official, in order to induce the person to take a particular action.
Extortion is the act of obtaining money or property by using threats of harm against the victim, or against his property or family.
Bribery: Both parties are not victims since this is a more ‘fair’ exchange.
Extortion: The person who is being threatened is the victim.
Bribery: Both parties are committing a crime.
Extortion: Only the blackmailer is committing a crime.