Influence peddling

The influence peddling consists in taking advantage of a position of power to obtain a benefit for oneself or for a third person.

These acts consist, on the one hand, in influencing an authority to achieve a favor. This can be, for example, through the delivery of money (bribery).

Likewise, influence peddling is also exercised when an individual offers to intercede on behalf of another before the competent authority, in exchange for a consideration (immediate or future). This, in order to get preferential treatment.

Characteristics of influence peddling

The influence peddling has different modalities. However, its general characteristics are mainly the following:

  • Some countries have regulations regarding this type of conduct, considering them a crime within their penal code.
  • It is a practice that, although not illegal, can be ethically questionable.
  • It requires not only a part of influences, but another that allows itself to be influenced.
  • Sometimes it is the authority itself that offers to give preferential treatment, for example, to a certain company, in exchange for monetary compensation.
  • It is a practice that develops more easily in countries with weak institutions where, for example, an inefficient bureaucracy generates perverse incentives. Thus, citizens or companies will be willing, for example, to pay a public official in exchange for speeding up procedures.


Let’s look at a case of influence peddling. Let us suppose that a transport company must pass through a technical supervision all its units to verify that they are in good condition.

During the procedure, it is found that some buses have not received proper maintenance. The owner of the company then offers the supervisor a sum of money in exchange for not reporting those failures, and agrees to repair their vehicles.

The official accepts and warns him that he will return in two weeks to verify that he kept his word. However, during those fifteen days, the transport units circulated without complying with the regulations, exposing human lives.

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