Updates to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International

Last week Transparency International published its annual update to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).  Transparency International is a global movement with more than 100 chapters worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, the sole aim of the organisation is the combating of corruption worldwide.

The index ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of corruption in the public sector according to experts and vested interests.

The CPI uses a scale of 0 to 100, zero being highly corrupt and 100 the opposite.

The Results

2020’s results were much like 2019’s with more than 66% of countries scoring below 50, with the average score being 43.

This unfortunately shows us that despite some progress, most countries are failing to appropriately tackle corruption in the public sector.

On top of the poor scores, almost 50% of countries have remained the same on the index for the last decade. These countries have, therefore, not made any significant moves to alter their score or combat public sector corruption.


The largest changes from 2019 to 2020 were as follows:

  • The Maldives jumped 55 places to rank 75, with a score change of 14 points
  • Armenia also made significant improvements increasing their positive score by 7 points
  • Kazakhstan also made the top 3 improvements, increasing it’s positive score by 4.

On the other hand, there were some major changes at the bottom of the list also, with Suriname and Comoros decreasing scores by six and four respectively, while Argentina, Indonesia, Djibouti and Lebanon saw a drop in three points.

Jurisdictional Disparity

As highlighted in our Jurisdiction risk seminar in December, the CPI clearly shows that not all EU jurisdictions are created equal, lending credence to the regulator’s push for more granular jurisdictional risk assessments, particularly when it comes to countries that would otherwise be blanket assessed as is the case with the Bloc.

When looking into the results of the 2020 CPI this is exemplified by the disparity in EU nations’ score changes.

Denmark, Finland and Sweden were ranked at the top of the chart and are joined by seven out EU countries having a score higher than 70.  On the other hand, five EU countries (Greece, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary) have scores that are below 50.

Influences and CoVid-19

Whilst the report is scant on reasoning for the apparent halt in the fight against corruption, it does address in depth the effect the global CoVid-19 pandemic has had on the overall picture.

The report states “The emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic revealed enormous cracks in health systems and democratic institutions, underscoring that those in power or who hold government purse strings often serve their own interests instead of those most vulnerable. As the global community transitions from crisis to recovery, anti-corruption efforts must keep pace to ensure a fair and just revival.”

It is clearly shown that the nations least equipped to handle the pandemic were subject to far more insidious corruption, a trait seen during other global crises in the past.

The report goes on to say that it is essential for governments to do the following when recovering from the crisis:

  1. Strengthen oversight institutions.
  2. Ensure open and transparent contracting.
  3. Defend democracy and promote civic space.
  4. Publish relevant data with guaranteed access.

All of these proposals are excellent in theory, let’s hope that 2021 will bring greater strides towards public sectors free of corruption worldwide.

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