No country in the world is totally free from corruption – fact. Even those countries assessed as the least corrupt internally, have been known to perpetuate corruption in those deemed to be very corrupt, usually in the name of business, or perhaps more accurately – greed.
Transparency International (TI) – an NGO founded by a few individuals in the early 1990s, now based in Berlin but present in over 100 countries – has produced figures which identify the level of “official” corruption in almost all countries, but has also identified external influences which may effect the on-going perpetration of corrupt practices in other than their own country; that is, countries scoring highly on non-corrupt practices at home may facilitate the export to, and perpetuation of corruption in countries at the other end of the scale.
To quote two examples only – TI identifies London as the world’s centre of corruption, as through unmatched influence on the global economic system, private bankers facilitate the movement of funds into and out of the city/country virtually unchecked, thus exporting the conditions necessary for wide-scale corruption to cities and countries worldwide, while simultaneously providing a safe-haven for money, legal or otherwise. Effectively, money-laundering is alive and well in and through the City of London!
Secondly, although all Scandinavian countries are assessed in the top five least corrupted, allegations that TeliaSonera – a Swedish-Finnish firm 37 per cent owned by the Swedish state – has paid bribes in the millions of dollars to secure business in Uzbekistan, ranked 153rd on the index, has seen the company now withdraw from that Asian region.
Corruption is fuelled by lack of access to any number of resources, from land to food to education, so generally the rankings of the more corrupt countries will come as no surprise. TI produces a yearly Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures levels of public sector corruption worldwide, based on the opinion of independent experts. Virtually all the highest scoring corrupt countries are involved in armed conflicts – of the bottom 20 only 10 are assessed as notionally conflict-free, but many conflicts are deemed to arise from frustrations with ‘official corruption’ anyway.
Additionally, to demonstrate the relative lack of success in combatting corruption, the OECD Convention on Combating Foreign Bribery entered into force in 1990, but of the 41 signatory countries, half show little or no enforcement, 25% only limited enforcement, and 50% have prosecuted no foreign bribery cases at all in 25 years. Since virtually all of the signatory countries export to, and/or have direct business interests in many of the lower ranked countries, with apparently lax attitudes like these, corruption-free global trade is unlikely to be achieved any time soon, to the detriment of peoples the world over.
Somewhat alarmingly, of the 20 most corrupt countries listed, 13 have either gone backwards in combatting corruption, or are still at the same level they were three years previously. However, seven of the ‘least corrupt’ top 20 countries have also regressed somewhat or have just maintained the same level as three years previously, which does not send a very positive message to those further down the list.
Least corrupt countries (Base score 100: incorrupt):
Most corrupt countries (excluding those in, or effected by conflict):
|139||Papua New Guinea||25||25||25||25|
Enforcement Levels Combatting Foreign Bribery: overview
Active Enforcement (four countries with 23% of world exports): German, Switzerland, UK, USA
Moderate Enforcement (six countries with 9% of world exports): Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy, Norway
Limited Enforcement (nine countries with 12% of world exports): France, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal
Little or No Enforcement (20 countries with 20% of world exports): Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey.