Bila watu hufiki popote. “Without people or connections you won’t reach anywhere,” said a Tanzanian businessman participating in our recently completed research project on informal networks and corruption.

His words encapsulate something we see time and again in our research on corruption: that bribery is far more than just a brute monetary transaction.

Often more important, and far less studied, are the informal social networks that connect private individuals and public officials.

What does the web of connections look like that underlies grand corruption and money laundering schemes and the abuse of offshore financial centres? Who are the people involved, how do they interact and what do they do?

And what insights can we draw by looking at complex corruption and money laundering schemes from the perspective of social networks, rather than solely individuals?

These questions are at the heart of a new analysis of the so-called Lava Jato or Odebrecht scandal that has engulfed Latin America.

This working paper is based on an empirical investigation of corruption and illicit exchange related to the so-called “Lava Jato” or “Odebrecht” scandal. Focusing on former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and his laundering of bribes obtained from the construction giant Odebrecht, the analysis aims to test the usefulness of applying a network lens to better understand the mechanisms underlying grand corruption cases.

This report offers an initial insight into the problem of gendered corruption, including sextortion and so-called double bribery, based on interviews with 19 businesswomen in Malawi. Part of a wider research project into procurement corruption, the interviews aimed to explore the extent of gendered corruption as a coercive form of social exchange, as well as the role of informal corrupt networks in magnifying gender-specific inequalities.

A new policy brief published as part of our Institute-wide Green Corruption programme offers a fresh perspective for practitioners and policymakers seeking to curb wildlife trafficking in Uganda. It emphasises context-sensitive interventions that are based on understanding the behaviours of individuals and social networks. 

Mobile phones and other technologies have transformed the nature and dynamics of informal social networks in Kyrgyzstan. Some scholars argue that new technology (electronisation, digitalisation) helps to prevent corruption and reduce the risk of bribery, informal social networks and bureaucracy. In their view, new technology has the potential to create transparent and efficient ways to access public services.