HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
Corruption Perceptions Index 2020

Transparency International (TI), an international not-for-profit organisation, has released the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 (CPI).

According to the CPI 2020 findings, last year most reviewed jurisdictions did not make any considerable improvement in anti-corruption: about two-thirds of countries score below 50 out of a possible 100 with the average score of only 43 out of 100. The TI experts stress that countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in a decade.

The top countries on the CPI 2020 have not changed: these are Denmark and New Zealand scoring 88 points each, followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland, that have scored 85; the bottom countries are again Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia that have scored from 12 to 15.

A positive trend is observed in post-Soviet states: for instance, Ukraine’s overall score has increased by three points and the country has risen from 126th place last year to 117th in the 2020 ranking; Kazakhstan has gained four points if compared to the previous year and has risen from 113th to 94th place, Armenia from 77th to 60th, Uzbekistan from 153rd to 146th and Moldova from 120th to 115th place. Besides that, some African, Latin American and Asian countries have improved their results in the ranking: for example, Kenya has risen from 137th to 124th place, Brazil form 106th to 94th, El Salvador from 113th to 104th, Peru from 101st to 94th, Oman from 54th to 49th and South Korea form 39th to 33rd place. 

Conversely, other countries have considerably backslid in the ranking. For instance, Austria has lost three points and sunk from 12th to 15th place, Iceland has lost six points, Bosnia and Herzegovina ten and Argentina 12 whole points.

The Russian Federation has scored 30 (28 in the previous year) and has been ranked 129th, rising immediately by eight positions (compared to 137th place in 2019). Gabon, Malawi, Azerbaijan and Mali have got the same score. 

At the same time, the TI experts stress that even top countries on the CPI cannot be certainly considered as a “role model” for countering corruption. 

For instance, Denmark, which has been a leader of the ranking for many years, has not criminalised trading in influence yet, the anti-foreign bribery provisions are not enforced in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, its autonomous territories, and there are no appropriate legal mechanisms for protecting persons reporting corruption. New Zealand has a similar problem with the protection of whistleblowers; besides that the country does not maintain a register of beneficial ownership and does not ensure appropriate transparency of public procurement. Germany has not published a public lobbying register, which is the reason why the relations between lobbyists and MPs still lack transparency. Finland, Luxemburg, Hong Kong, Canada, Ireland and other top countries on the CPI have little enforcement practice against crimes related to transnational bribery. Besides that, many countries holding leading positions on the CPI, such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, Australia and the United Kingdom, are also notorious offshore territories: their legal norms on bank and other financial secrecy, disclosure of beneficial ownership, tax payments, acquisition of real property, etc. make them attractive to those who want to “hide” their proceeds of crime, including corruption acts. 

TI has also produced its recommendations on how to curb corruption and more affectively tackle future crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • strengthen oversight institutions: anti-corruption authorities and oversight institutions must have sufficient funds, resources, and independence to perform their duties;
  • ensure open and transparent contracting to combat wrongdoing, identify conflicts of interest and ensure fair pricing;
  • defend democracy and promote civic space in the fight against corruption: in order to achieve this objective, civil society groups and the media must have the enabling conditions to act without fear to hold governments accountable;
  • publish relevant data on spending and distribution of resources and ensure public access to this information.

For information: Transparency International has published its Corruption Perceptions Index for as much as 26 years. In the meantime, the methodology for calculating the CPI has changed more than once. In particular, the 100-point system that is being currently applied was introduced as late as in 2012. The CPI is based on expert assessments and surveys of business executives and is designed to indicate the level of corruption perceptions in the public sector. TI does not carry out its own surveys, using 13 different external sources (such as the World Bank Group, the World Economic Forum, the Asian and African Development Banks and the like), whose results are customized according to the single point system of assessment. Based on the findings of the survey, countries are ranked in accordance with the overall score they got, from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). It should be highlighted that the CPI, like most other rankings measuring the level of corruption, has a number of flaws, which we have already written about (in Russian). 

Corruption measurement
Civil society

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