CPI 2023 shows poor performance from top countries

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2023 makes for worrying reading – particularly in relation to countries which score best. TI notes that only Ireland and the Seychelles have actually seen a significant improvement in their scores since 2012, while several high scoring countries, notably Australia and Canada, but also the UK, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland have seen significant drops in their scores.

TI is also concerned that the good scores of high scoring countries also mask the fact that, although these countries have all the powers they need to prosecute corruption, they have a poor record of actually doing so. It singles out Netherlands, and notes in particular its decision not to prosecute Shell in a Nigerian oil bribery case. It also notes Iceland’s failure to bring charges against an Icelandic company after Namibia prosecuted several government officials for allegedly accepting bribes from it.

A further concern is enablers – TI calls out several EU jurisdictions who have failed properly to supervise financial institutions, and Switzerland for taking too long to propose legislation that will extend AML requirements to lawyers. The UK gets more criticism – TI notes that although the AML regime has applied to professionals for years, compliance is a problem, and hopes the UK will set up one single statutory AML authority to address this.

On the bright side, TI is pleased with the US Foreign Extortion Prevention Act, which addresses the “demand” side of transactions by making it a crime for foreign officials to demand or accept bribes from any US citizen or company, any company listed on a US stock exchange, or while in the US, and the EU proposals to crimininalise demand-side foreign bribery. And it is pleased with the efforts several countries are making to improve transparency.

In terms of the CPI itself, Denmark tops the table with a score of 90, followed by Finland and New Zealand (although New Zealand’s score has fallen since last year).  The UK continues to fall to 20th, with a score of 71 (2 down in score and ranking on last year). The US is just behind, with the same score as last year of 69. Both China and Cuba score 3 less than last year, while several African countries have increased their scores. Only 58 of the 180 countries in the survey score 50 or more.

Emma Radmore