Trouble at the top

Top scoring countries on the CPI are not immune to corruption. While the CPI shows these public sectors to be among the cleanest in the world, corruption still exists, particularly in cases of money laundering and other private sector corruption.

However, integrity at home does not always translate into integrity abroad, and multiple scandals in 2019 demonstrated that transnational corruption is often facilitated, enabled and perpetuated by seemingly clean countries.

Despite some high-profile fines and prosecutions, our research shows that enforcement of foreign bribery laws among OECD countries is shockingly low. The outsized roles that some companies play in their national economies gives them political support that too often triumphs over real accountability. Some banks and businesses aren’t just too big to fail – they’re also too powerful to pay fines. Anti-money laundering supervision and sanctions for breaches are often disjointed and ineffective.

The CPI highlights where stronger anti-corruption efforts are needed across the globe. It emphasises where businesses should show the greatest responsibility to promote integrity and accountability, and where governments must eliminate undue influence from private interests that can have a devastating impact on sustainable development.

Multiple scandals in 2019 demonstrated that transnational corruption is often facilitated, enabled and perpetuated by seemingly clean Nordic countries.

For example in Iceland (78), one of the largest fishing conglomerates, Samherji, allegedly bribed government officials in Namibia for rights to massive fishing quotas. Many of the funds ended up in accounts of a Norwegian state-owned bank, DNB.

In Sweden (85) telecoms giant, Ericsson, agreed to pay more than US$1 billion to settle a foreign bribery case over its sixteen-year-long cash-for-contracts campaign.

In Denmark (87) following the Danske Bank scandal, major banks like Swedbank in Sweden and Deutsche Bank in Germany (80) were investigated for their role in handling suspicious payments from high-risk non-resident clients.

The outsized roles that some companies play in their national economies gives them political support that too often triumphs over real accountability.

While the CPI highlights where stronger anti-corruption efforts are needed in the public sector, it also emphasises where businesses should show greater responsibility to promote integrity and accountability and where governments should eliminate undue influence.

For additional information and links visit the TINZ Corruption Perceptions Index page.

Transparency International New Zealand, PO Box 10123, The Terrace Wellington, 6143 New Zealand admin@transparency.org.nz. Copyright © Transparency International New Zealand 2009 - 2019.
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