It is the act of offering, giving, receiving or requesting something of value in order to influence the action of an official in the fulfillment of his public or legal duties. The expectation of a particular voluntary action in return is what makes the difference between a bribe and a private display of goodwill.

Offering or providing payment to persuade someone with a liability to betray that liability is known as seeking Undue Influence over that person’s actions. When someone with power seeks payment in exchange for certain actions, that person is said to be selling influence. Regardless of who initiates the deal, either party to a bribery act may be convicted of the offense independently of the other.

A bribe can be immediate cash or personal favors, a promise to pay later, or anything else the recipient finds valuable. When the US military threatened to cancel a Texas relocation company’s contracts to move families to and from military bases, the company allegedly gave four representatives in Congress an expenses-paid weekend in Las Vegas in January. of 1989 and $2,500 in fees. The company’s former president was indicted by a federal Grand Jury in 1994 on bribery charges for both gifts.

No written agreement is necessary to prove the crime of bribery, but a prosecutor must usually show corrupt intent. Bribery charges may involve public officials or private individuals. In the world of professional sports, for example, one boxer might offer another a prize for “throwing away” (deliberately losing) an important fight. In the corporate arena, a company might bribe employees of a rival company for recruiting services or other actions at odds with their employer’s interests. Even when public officials are involved, a bribe does not have to be detrimental to the public interest to be illegal.

When a public official accepts a bribe, it creates a conflict of interest. That is, the official cannot accommodate the interests of another party without compromising the responsibilities of his position.