Results From the Latest Corruption Perceptions Index

Every year, Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index is one of the most eagerly awaited reports on the state of corruption and fraud worldwide. The wait is over for the latest edition (which covers 2015), and, as usual, the results are a mixed bag – but there is some good news.

According to TI, more countries improved their scores in this edition over the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index than declined. That’s significant, since the study spans 168 nations, so any move in the right direction is a global positive.

However, TI notes in their press release that “overall, two-thirds of the 168 countries on the 2015 index scored below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).” That doesn’t sound quite as good, as far as those who want to prevent fraud are concerned.

Here are some more takeaways from the latest Corruption Perceptions Index:

  • Denmark took the top spot for the 2nd year running, with North Korea and Somalia the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each (the lower the score, on a scale from 0 to 100, the worse the corruption). 
  • Top performers share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor, and that are truly independent from other parts of government.
  • In addition to conflict and war, poor governance, weak public institutions like police and the judiciary, and a lack of independence in the media characterize the lowest ranked countries.
  • The big decliners in the past 4 years include Libya, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Turkey. The big improvers include Greece, Senegal and UK.

Read more about Brazil’s fraud woes here (and in several past articles). The news of increased corruption in the South American nation is poorly timed, with the country set to host the Olympics this year. It provides a few too many reminders of World Cup/FIFA corruption woes.

However, getting back to the Corruption Perceptions Index – in a prepared statement, José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International, said:

“Corruption can be beaten if we work together. To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough.
“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption.”

True enough. Fraud fighters around the world are working diligently, sharing best practices and learning new techniques to try to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters. Undoubtedly, they keep one eye on the Corruption Perceptions Index for at least one measure of how the fight is progressing.

Lastly, let’s give some credit to the success stories. Here are the top 10 least corrupt nations, according to the index:

  1. Denmark
  2. Finland
  3. Sweden
  4. New Zealand
  5. Netherlands
  6. Norway
  7. Switzerland
  8. Singapore
  9. Canada
  10. Germany

So tip your hat to the Danes, and the others who grace the top 10. They are doing something right.