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“Old boys’ networks” a common source of corruption in Finland finds study

Although corruption is not a significant problem in Finland, gaps in legislation and the practices of key institutions pose risks that could lead to decreasing openness, and even corruption, if not addressed. Old boys’ networks, especially in municipal politics, are a typical source of conflicts of interest that can lead to corruption.

These are some of the findings of a National Integrity System report which evaluates the measures put in place by Finland’s most important institutions to ward off corruption.

Commissioned by Transparency International Finland and published today in the Finnish parliament annex Little Parliament, the report shows that people are concerned about the close ties between politicians and public officials with business interests, as demonstrated by the ongoing bribery trial of Member of Parliament and former Minister for Foreign Affairs Ilkka Kanerva.

The study found that competition over resources may lead public offices to cut corners, reducing their effectiveness in preventing corruption. The national audit office lacks sufficient resources to supervise election financing and the legislature suffers from excessively long court processes. In addition, the flow of public information to citizens does not always work effectively. All these gaps give corruption the possibility to flourish.

“As society changes and resources decrease we must hold on to openness and good practices to ensure instances of corruption are rare. This requires dedication from public officials but also more effective cooperation across sectors. It is vitally important that civil society, the media and business are involved in the fight against corruption”, said Pentti Mäkinen, Chair of Transparency International Finland.

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Greater transparency in public office A thorough discussion about the problems of networking is needed. There should be more public information about the work of public officials and this information should reach citizens efficiently. Public officials as well as political figures should be ready to make their financial interests public on a voluntary basis and lobbying should be made more transparent.
  • Commit resources to anti-corruption Anti-corruption work should be better resourced in Finland. At the municipal level, for instance, the amount of human resources in public services could constitute a problem. The legislature suffers from excessively long court processes. It can also be argued that the national audit office does not have sufficient resources in order to supervise election financing.
  • Modernise legislation There is no definition of corruption in the Finnish legal system. The question should also be asked whether the new election funding regulations are sufficient in practice.
  • For the full list of recommendations, click here.
  • For highlights of the assessment, click here.
  • For the executive summary of the Finland National Integrity System Assessment, click here.


The Finnish report is part of a European-wide project supported by the European Commission, which sees the National Integrity System assessment take place in 25 European countries. The aim of the project is to highlight corruption issues and place the fight against corruption high on the agenda of decision-makers in these countries.

For any press enquiries please contact

Pentti Mäkinen, Chair
T: +35 850 500 258 4
E: [email protected]

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