In contrast to typical predictions, corruption has become a recognized threat even to established democracies. Its practices corrode the principle of fairness and make whole communities believe that trading favors is the inescapable rationale of government. Distrust consolidates a social trap that direct interventions have proven hard to defuse. This article develops the argument that accountability provides grounds for a promising indirect strategy and can counter corruption from the entry point of administrative policy decisions. It addresses administrative accountability as the mechanism that can compel decisions to consider others' concerns and discusses why it can fail when it is activated only ex post as managerial control. The conclusions list the features of instrument and governance design under which the mechanism is reasonably expected to succeed.