If the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) results for 2019 prove anything it’s this: no country is immune to corruption. In fact, out of 180 countries, not one earns a perfect score, with the average global score being 43 out of 100. Though Singapore was ranked third alongside Finland for having the cleanest record, the Asia Pacific region still faced scrutiny over recent high-profile corruption scandals which indicate that there’s room for improvement overall.

Transparency International (TI) started the CPI in 1995 and is the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. The CPI scores 180 countries with their perceived levels of corruption based on data about specific corrupt behaviour including bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public funds for private gain and nepotism. The CPI uses a scale of zero (being highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) to rank countries. TI has previously recommended that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) create an ASEAN Integrity Community which would cooperate to prevent corruption in cross-border transactions. Ethical political leadership and a dedication to maintaining transparency in trade deals have been recommended as key strategies to combat corrupt practices.

China, India and Indonesia all slipped down the list. China fell ten places from 77th place to 87th place with a CPI of 39 out of 100.

The 2018 Exporting Corruption report highlights that even when countries are perceived to have relatively low levels of corruption, they may fail to investigate and punish companies implicated in paying bribes overseas. Even if corruption isn’t prevalent within a nation’s own borders, their presence in countries that are rife with corruption still has the potential to have a negative impact. As the chair of Transparency International explained, “corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and, as we have seen in many countries, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.”

TI also highlights the way that weak institutions and unresponsive political systems that lack a focus on compliance with anti-corruption laws can undermine democracy. In a context of international trade of goods, this failure to support democratic principles of governance perpetuates a culture of corruption and leads to over $2.6 trillion in loss annually.

No country should take a good score alone as a sign that they are doing enough to combat corruption. The CPI sends a powerful message about the need for constant monitoring and vigilance when it comes to stamping out corruption in public structures – and this of course has ramifications for the private sector, too.


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Source: Transparency International