A Disruption Mechanism for Bribes

Robert D. Cooter 1  and Nuno Garoupa 2
  • 1 University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • 2 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA
Robert D. Cooter and Nuno Garoupa

Abstract

Crimes such as bribery require the cooperation of two or more criminals for mutual gain. Instead of deterring these crimes, the state should disrupt them by creating distrust among criminals so they cannot cooperate. In a cooperative crime with two criminals, the state should offer amnesty and a bounty to the criminal who first secures punishment of the other criminal. When the bounty exceeds the bribe, a bribed official gains less from keeping the bribe than from confessing and receiving the bounty. Consequently the person who pays the bribe cannot trust the person who takes it. The game’s unique equilibrium is non-cooperative and bribes disappear. We explore legal implications and practical challenges to this disruption mechanism.

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