HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
Capacity to Combat Corruption Index 2020 for Latin America

The not-for-profit Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) together with Control Risks, a global consultancy, have published an updated Capacity to Combat Corruption (CCC) Index for Latin American countries during the pandemic.

The existing and also highly publicized corruption measurement rankings, as repeatedly stated, have multiple flaws. Therefore, the international community constantly searches for more effective approaches towards the measurement of corruption and the efficiency of anti-corruption instruments.

The CCC Index, first published in 2019, is one of these attempts: the researchers developed their own methodology for assessing the capabilities of Latin American countries to fight against corruption manifestations. The main objective of this Index is to detect strengths and weaknesses of the reviewed jurisdictions in the field of anti-corruption in order to attract the attention of authorities and the general public to the problems that need to be addressed and the existing opportunities for development.

The Index is based on the open data published by international organizations and the results of an in-house survey among anti-corruption experts, representatives of research entities, civil society, the media and private sector organizations. Three experts were selected and surveyed for each country: one from Control Risks and the other two from other circles. The experts from public bodies of the reviewed jurisdictions were not engaged in the project so as to avoid conflict-of-interest situations.

The study covers three key areas. For each of them the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures is assessed under 14 variables:

1. Legal capacity:

  • judicial independence and efficiency;
  • anti-corruption agencies’ independence and efficiency;
  • access to public information and overall government transparency;
  • independence and resources for the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and investigators;
  • level of expertise and resources available to combat white collar crime;
  • quality of leniency and plea bargain instruments;
  • international cooperation in law enforcement;

2. Democracy and Political Institutions:

  • quality and enforceability of campaign financing legislation;
  • lawmaking and ruling processes;
  • overall quality of democracy;

3. Civil society, media and the private sector:

  • civil society mobilization against corruption;
  • anti-corruption education and awareness raising;
  • quality of the press and investigative journalism;
  • digital communications and social media.

Based on the points for each variable, the overall score is calculated. It ranges from 0 to 10 where 10 stands for the highest anti-corruption potential and 0 for the lowest one.

In 2020 the Index was calculated for 15 Latin American countries (whereas in 2019 only for 8 countries), which together represent almost 95% of Latin America’s GDP. The countries with the highest score in the Index are Uruguay (7.78 points), Chile (6.57) and Costa Rica (6.43), while Dominican Republic (3.26), Bolivia (2.71) and Venezuela (1.52) obtained the lowest score.

Among the 8 countries that were included in the Index last year only Peru has improved its final score (+0.3 points), whereas other countries have achieved worse results: Chile (-0.09), Brazil (-0.62), Argentina (-0.01), Colombia (-0.18), Mexico (-0.1), Guatemala (-0.51) and Venezuela (-0.19).

The researchers highlight that the increased risks almost everywhere can be attributed to the difficulties that Latin American countries have encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the control measures are generally relaxed and the number of cases of financial mismanagement grows in emergency situations.

The fact that the region’s anti-corruption wave has faded if compared to the previous decade is another reason for the decreasing scores. This is primarily due to the shift of attention of both society and governments in Latin American countries to economic and social issues which were at the forefront of massive protests in several countries of the region in late 2019.

Besides the scores, the study provides general assessment of the current situation in the fight against corruption in the reviewed jurisdictions, describing major problems and key areas of further development.

The report states for instance, that Paraguay remains under close public scrutiny as one of the global money laundering hubs; in spite of the fact that in 2016 the country adopted the legislation to counter money laundering, it has not made any substantial progress in its enforcement yet. Paraguay is also working on establishing an Anti-Corruption Observatory, an independent initiative under the legislative branch that could increase oversight on enforcement and prevention mechanisms.

In some countries, such as Panama, Ecuador and Colombia there are ongoing investigations into large-scale schemes of bribery of public officials (Odebrecht and Petroecuador), while in others corruption scandals have brought about more active participation of civil society in the fight against corruption. In Dominican Republic for example, these factors contributed to the rise of Marcha Verde (which literally means “Green March).

Despite large-scale anti-corruption reforms Mexico has stagnated and maintains a poor ability to detect and prevent corruption. Conversely, in other countries, for example, in Costa Rica the researchers expect positive changes: in 2019 the country adopted a law on criminal liability of legal persons for corruption and has very recently been invited to join the OECD. According to the researchers, the OECD membership may push the country to deepen reforms in several areas related to anti-corruption, such as public procurement and anti-money laundering.

AS/COA are not-for-profit organizations which bring together representatives of the public and private sectors to discuss acute political, social and economic issues confronting the countries of the Americas.

Control Risks is a global consultancy that specializes in providing training, consulting and anti-corruption audit services along with the assessment of risks related to politics, security and business integrity.

Civil society
Corruption measurement

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