/ Corruption on the Agenda / Case Handling / Warning Signs


Warning signs are signals, a feeling of suspicion or a combination of small signs telling you that something might be wrong - or at least not the way it should be. 



When you detect warning signs, you must react and take action. Often we opt to believe that there is a natural explanation - and no need for action.


This might be the case, but it is important always to react on warning signs. Ask questions, and ask for explanations to what worries you. It may be corruption, but it could also be the lack of agreed and transparent procedures, unclear mutual expectations or lax habits.


Typical Warning Signs:


  • Rumours of abuse.
  • Internal divisions within the organisation.
  • Power and decision-making are concentrated on one or few individuals.
  • People give different answers to the same question.
  • Reporting is delayed.
  • Financial reports are late.
  • Financial reports contain errors or are unclear.
  • Errors are explained as misunderstandings, and are corrected.
  • Budgets are unclear and perhaps only one person has the full overview.
  • Signatures are added to documents by photocopying.
  • The organisation does not make annual reports. 
  • Anonymous tips about misuse of funds or abuse of power.
  • It is difficult to get a clear picture of the organisational structure.
  • Board meetings are often cancelled.
  • There is insufficient sharing of roles in the handling of payments.
  • Key individuals are working very long hours - first in the morning and last out in the evening.
  • Key individuals never take holidays or days off, and thus never leave their responsibilities to others.
  • Individuals' private consumption seem to be above what their income would normally allow.


If your queries indicate that something probably is wrong, you must take action - get an idea of where to begin here.



How to pick up warning signs


  • Good accountabillity structures and transparancy
  • Agreed standards and procedures against wich actual practice can be measured
  • Good financial management
  • Wistle blower mechanisms


Illustration by Sammi Mwamkinga ©


Address: CISU - Civil Society in Development, Klosterport 4a, 8000 Århus C, Denmark
Tel: 045 8612 0342, weekdays 10.00-15.00, Mail us at cisu@cisu.dk

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