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6 March 2017

Why you might be surprised at the levels of perceived corruption worldwide in 2016

Wendy Gore

Did you know that, in 2016, Uruguay was perceived to have lower levels of corruption than France? This was just one of the (sometimes) surprising results that were revealed when Transparency International published Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, the latest entry in its series of annual reports that measure perceived levels of corruption around the world.

Available on Transparency International's website, this index could serve as a helpful resource for compliance professionals to use in your ongoing efforts to stay as informed as possible about any compliance-related issues that might negatively impact your company. Indeed, guidance notes issued by the EU in support of the soon-to-be-enacted AML4 legislation (a topic we discussed in depth in a recent blog post), cited this report as a credible source to consult when seeking knowledge about corruption in countries across the globe.

Being aware of the corruption levels associated with a country or region where a proposed business partner or supplier is based could alert you to possible compliance-related pitfalls and, in the process, help you to avoid crippling sanctions or reputational damage.

In fact, being aware of the existence of high incidences of money laundering or terrorism financing within a certain jurisdiction could encourage your company to heighten its due diligence or even completely rethink its intentions towards a proposed deal or transaction.

Based on the findings reported in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, perceived levels of corruption last year were extremely high and widespread across the globe. Indicative of a negative trend in corruption levels worldwide, the results of this survey show that more countries saw an increase in corruption than those who witnessed a decline. Indeed, in the 2016 index, which classifies corruption levels on a spectrum from 0 (most corrupt) to 100 (cleanest), the global average score was a decidedly unimpressive 43.

Delving deeper into Transparency International's research, the statistics in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 reveal that no country or territory earned a perfect score. In fact, only two countries – Denmark and New Zealand – succeeded in breaking into the 90s, and even then, they only managed to earn 90 each.

From there, the scores drop off precipitously, with only one third of the 176 countries and territories covered in this report actually managing to crack 50.

Some of the results are quite eye-opening. For example, perceived levels of corruption in Spain registered higher than those in Cape Verde and Botswana. And, Uruguay scored better than both the United States and Australia on the corruption perceptions index.


Transparency International attributes the phenomenon of rising corruption levels around the world to a sustained surge in inequality sweeping across the globe. The research points to an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, both in terms of wealth and power. Something which, Transparency International concludes, is contributing to a steep decline in both the belief in and adherence to the rule of law.

All of these factors together, the report asserts, are leading to the ascent of populist political movements, an element which, they point out, will only serve to accelerate corruption levels and speed up an increasingly dangerous cycle.

Take a look at the colour-coded Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 map to see where each country or territory fell on the scale in 2016 – with the countries perceived as being most corrupt depicted in dark red and the least corrupt shaded in bright yellow. This image paints a vivid, and in some cases surprising, picture of the extent and location of corruption across the globe.



Additional tools to help you monitor corruption and stay compliant

With the sorts of dismal corruption statistics recorded in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, it's prudent to take any and all steps that you can to help mitigate compliance-related risk.

By harnessing one of our company information platforms – such as Orbis, a database covering more than 200 million companies worldwide, or Compliance Catalyst, which, when used with Orbis, offers specific features geared towards meeting compliance regulations – you'll be able to more efficiently access and use the information you need in order to steer clear of corrupt prospective partners, suppliers or clients, and remain compliant.

Wendy Gore

Wendy Gore, Copywriter

A member of the global marketing division, Wendy’s focus is on short-form blog posts covering Bureau van Dijk’s full range of interests.

A member of the global marketing division, Wendy’s focus is on short-form blog posts covering Bureau van Dijk’s full range of interests.

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