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1996 International Corruption Perception Index

Issued by Transparency International (TI)

At a time of growing public concern about corruption throughout the world, Transparency International (TI) releases its 1996 TI Corruption Perception Index. The Index, based on 10 international surveys of business people, reflects their impressions and perceptions of more than 50 countries.

"Inevitably, many developing countries emerge from an Index like this one as highly corrupt, but the research provides little comfort for the industrialised countries," stated Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International (TI), the global coalition against corruption. He added that "most of the bribes on international contracts are paid by executives of corporations in the most advanced industrial countries and it remains an outrage that most of the governments of these countries have not legislated to curb international corrupt practices."

Research on the Index has been led by Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff and a research team of Goettingen University. He stated that "the Index is a poll of polls, putting together the subjective evaluations of business people. It provides insights into perceptions, which have an impact on how private companies, particularly in Japan, North America and Western Europe operate in the rest of the world.

Dr. Lambsdorff said that many of the business people surveyed are from Western industrial countries and many of the surveys used in compiling the Index are run by Western organisations. These facts may lead to some bias in the results in favour of Western industrial countries and against developing countries.

Transparency International is publishing its second Corruption Perceptions Index to highlight the damage that current corruption does and to try to galvanise action in all countries to curb corruption. The 1995 Index created a widespread interest around the world, sparking debates in several parliaments and stimulating broader understanding of the issues of corruption.

The 1996 Index cannot be directly compared to the 1995 Index as more countries and more surveys are involved this time. The data shows that in the case of some countries there was very considerable variance in perceptions, as recorded between the different surveys. Dr. Lambsdorff also pinted out that since many of the surveys go back a few years it is impossible for the Index to accurately capture recent actions taken by governments to reduce corruption and to create a healthier climate.

Dr. Eigen stressed that "the Index does not deal in certainties and facts. It does not state: "These are the most corrupt countries." And, while we are expanding the coverage, there are still more than 100 countries in the world that are not included on the Index."

The TI Chairman noted that TI is making major efforts to campaign for legislation across the industrial countries to crimilalise the payment of bribes by corporations and to end practices that enable multinational companies to take tax deductions for their foreign bribe payments. "We are making progress, but much of the corruption in the developing countries is the direct result of corrupt multinational corporations and lax laws in the industrial countries. It was domestic pressure in the post-Watergate era that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States almost two decades ago and the US remain the only country that has tough criminal laws on the books today in the international bribery area."

Dr. Eigen stressed that corruption in major international contracting, often involving multinational corporations and known as "grand corruption," directly adds to widespread small-scale domestic corruption in many countries. The Index does not attempt to capture the levels of this kind of corruption, but TI and its national chapters around the world believe that this too is an area of critical concern.

Asked about longer ranging historical perspectives, Dr. Lambsdorff remarked that "some countries have shown a remarkable increase in business confidence over the past 15 years. Portugal and Indonesia are noteworthy in this context. However, historical data shows that perceptions of corruption are increasing as far as Argentina, China and Russia are concerned."

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In Germany
Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen, Chairman
Mr. Jeremy Pope, Managing Director
tel. + (49 30) 343 8200
fax + (49 30) 3470 3912