On a busy street in Hungary, Márton* practised his driving skills with his instructor. It was days before his test, and he felt a blend of excitement and nerves. As the lesson drew to a close, he pulled the car to a halt and waited for final feedback from his teacher.
What came next was not what he had expected. Márton’s driving instructor told him that if he wanted to pass his test, he would need to bribe the examiner. If Márton gave the instructor 25,000 Hungarian forints (US$100), he would happily act as go-between, making sure the examiner received his money before the test began.
Márton did not know how to respond, and as time ticked down to the test date he searched the internet for advice. It was then that he came across the website for our centre in Hungary, which offers support and guidance to victims of corruption. With only 30 minutes to go until the deadline for paying his driving instructor, Márton called the centre and reported the incident.
“We realised immediately that there wasn’t time to involve the police,” says Miklós Legeti, an expert who works at the centre, “so we advised Márton to postpone payment by telling his instructor he hadn’t managed to get the money yet. After confirming the district where the transfer was supposed to take place, we called the local police station with Márton’s story.”
With our support, Márton agreed to take part in a police sting operation. Calling his instructor, he arranged a time to meet and hand over the money. In the meantime, he took the money to the police, who recorded the serial numbers on the bank notes. After Márton handed over the cash, the police followed the instructor. When he took the money to the examiner, they recorded the transaction on video and arrested them both, using the cash serial numbers as evidence. Márton was fully reimbursed – and is now looking forward to a corruption-free driving test.
Already, the story is inspiring others to refuse corruption. “Since we posted the news on our website, we’ve had a surge of reports from victims of bribery,” says Miklós. “Petty corruption is common in Hungarian life, but people are realising they don’t have to accept it. Márton’s story is helping us turn the tide.”
*Name has been changed.