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States emerging from conflict generally have very weak institutions and an influx of outside funds. These two conditions provide incentives for officials to make corrupt deals for personal gain. Outsiders who are brought in to monitor and manage the transition are also at risk of becoming corrupt. The prior conflict is likely to have fostered a culture of secrecy and impunity where self-dealing is easy to conceal. The end of the conflict may not encourage the development of a transparent and accountable government, especially if those who gained financially from the conflict are in power and seek both to preserve past gains and to benefit from the rebuilding effort. Thus, although incentives for corruption exist in all societies, the incidence and scale of corruption may be especially high and destructive in post-conflict situations. Political leaders buy-off powerful private actors with patronage, including criminal groups and wealthy business interests. Those powerful private actors also buy off weak politicians with money or promises of future jobs and business ventures. The post-conflict political system may be in a corruption trap where payoffs build in expectation of future payoffs, resulting in a vicious spiral.

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