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The week in corruption, 1 February 2019

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Transparency Int'l

On Tuesday, we released our Corruption Perceptions Index 2018. It reveals a disturbing link between corruption and the health of democracies: countries with higher rates of corruption also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.

The top and bottom of the index haven’t seen much change. Somalia, Syria and South Sudan have the lowest scores. Top performers include the Nordics — Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway — plus New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. These countries mostly have several democratic attributes in common that help them keep corruption in their public sectors under control.

That’s great, but what about the fact that many of these countries have also been involved in major corruption scandals?

Denmark, which tops the list this year, has been rocked by the revelations of massive money-laundering at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, the country’s biggest lender.

Switzerland — particularly its banks and other financial intermediaries — is a regular feature in stories about stolen public money finding its way out of countries around the world.

The CPI doesn’t measure private-sector corruption like money laundering, tax fraud, foreign bribery, financial secrecy or illicit flows of money. It also doesn’t look at individual corruption cases.

But that doesn’t mean these areas are not important. These scandals from countries at the top of the CPI show that no country is corruption-free. That’s why we continue to put pressure on the governments in countries at the top of the index to do their part to close loopholes, sanction wrong-doing and open their financial systems to scrutiny.

It’s not enough for top performing countries to lead by example with a clean public sector: they must become leaders across the board.

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