"No science is immune to the infection
of politics and the corruption of power."

Jacob Bronowski
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Bird feeder from the embassy

At the end of the year, a foreign embassy sends all its co-operation partners, incl. a Ministry, a bird feeder with feed as a present and a token of good co-operation..


This is a symbolic present that the foreign embassy sends to all its co-operation partners.

A bag of presents from a seminar organiser

A Deputy Mayor, being also responsible for the construction sector, gives a presentation at a seminar of the Association of Construction Undertakings. The purpose of the seminar is to discuss the matters of implementation and practical shortcomings of a new law. The speakers at the seminar include experts from both the private and the public sector. After the seminar, its organiser gives a bag of presents to every speaker, containing a memory stick, a mug with the logo of the Association of Construction Undertakings and a DVD with the materials introducing the organiser


As the bag of presents is intended for all the speakers at the seminar and is given by not just a single company but a representative organisation connecting many companies, it can be considered a means of saying “thank you” for speaking at the seminar and is therefore a usual expression of politeness. The bag of presents is also not expensive and a spoken notification suffices

A bottle of cognac and a box of chocolates for a probation officer

A probation officer receives a bottle of cognac and a box of chocolates from a prisoner’s friend, so that the probation officer would write a good characterisation for the prisoner to be released on parole.


Although the present has a low value as a whole, the giver’s intention is to influence the official to write a favourable characterisation. The present may influence the official’s unbiasedness upon performing his or her official duties and cast a doubt on his or her objectivity concerning a recommendation given for the prisoner. This type of present is gratuity (or bribe).

A bouquet of flowers for the rural municipality’s social worker

The rural municipality’s social worker known for her pleasant attitude receives the present of a bouquet of flowers freshly picked from a thankful resident’s garden.


This is a usual expression of politeness. The purpose of the bouquet brought by the resident is to thank the official for her performance of duties; the value of the present is also low and it can be presumed that the giver’s intention was not to influence the official in any way. Yet, it would be reasonable to avoid a tradition of presents because it provides a fertile ground for further influences.

A car radiator for a Consumer Protection Inspector

A Consumer Protection Inspector inspects a store and discovers violations of the Consumer Protection Act: some articles lack a unit price and an Estonian label. The store’s Manager asks the official to refrain from formalising a misdemeanour act and promises the official a free car radiator and its installation for that.


A supervisory official’s decisions must be based on evidence. The fact that the official’s personal car’s radiator needs replacement has no meaning for the conducting of supervision. Offering and installing a car radiator is considered gratuity with the purpose of influencing the official’s supervisory decision for the benefit of the store owner.

A trip as a present from a travel agency

A travel agency sends a Ministry’s official with frequent business trips an invitation to celebrate the opening of a new flight route. The invitation states that the event is an expression of gratitude organised by the travel agency for its best customers. The event’s programme includes two-way tickets for the new route, catering, a night in a five-star hotel and a banquet at a concert in the estimation country. All costs of the event are covered by the travel agency.


Although the invitation sent by the travel agency stated that it was an event of expressing gratitude, the trip is expensive and the travel agency’s intention is presumably to ensure that its long-term best customers would keep using its services in the future. Although it may not be corruptive income, the present may still influence the official and it should be rejected. In the eyes of the public, the accepting of such a present could cast a doubt on the Ministry’s unbiasedness and transparency in booking its business trips, even if the travel agency offering the travel service was chosen in compliance with all rules.

A present to the state authority from a company having received a grant

A spa centre having received a grant from EU Structural Funds sends the state authority having prepared the funding decisions of the grant a set of ten free week-long spa packages


Although it may not be corruptive income, the present may still influence the official and it should be rejected. Spa packages may influence officials’ unbiasedness and they may start preferring the spa centre in the future when distributing grants. Therefore the presents should be returned.