business corporate responsibility current affairs development

Bad news for Britain in the latest Corruption Index

A new report came out yesterday from Transparency International, the corruption monitoring organisation. They’ve just issued their annual Corruptions Perception Index, a global survey on which countries are perceived to be the most honest. Through expert and business surveys, 180 countries are graded between 0 and 10, (10 being the most honest) and then ranked in order of honesty. This rank is then used by potential investors as they think about where to place their business.

The world’s most honest countries are Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden, joint first with a score of 9.3. Singapore and Finland round out the top five – Scandinavia setting a fine example once again.

At the other end of the scale, Somalia manages a score of just 1.0, with Myanmar (Burma), Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan completing this particular hall of shame.

Countries improving include Albania, Turkey, Mauritius, and South Korea. Those on the slide include Bulgaria, Burundi, and… the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately for Britain, we fell from 12th place to 16th, one of the biggest drops in the history of the index. Transparency International (TI) believes this is due to a number of high profile news stories in the last couple of years, most notably the government’s block on the investigation into the Saudi arms deals in 2006. “The decision to stop the criminal investigation raised acure concerns over the UK’s international obligation to combat corruption”, say TI (pdf). Cash for honours rumours, and the scandal around MP’s expenses haven’t helped either.

Bribery remained the main concern, a fact worth noting when pointing the finger at developing countries. While bribery might be fairly rare or well disguised when doing business in Britain itself, executives aren’t above using it in other countries, offering bribes to foreign officials in return for contracts. Even when it is well known and documented, investigations into bribery rarely come to court. TI Executive Director Chandrashekhar Krishan lamented Britain’s “wretched and woeful record” on prosecuting for bribery. A global anti-corruption agreement signed eleven years ago has resulted in just one conviction so far.

The government is due to report on bribery law in November, which may go some way to improving things. I will keep you up to date if any action points arise from that.

The USA appears at number 18 in the rankings, by the way, Canada at 9. The full table is available here.

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