Rule of Law

   

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

EUOECD
 
Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
10
Denmark
In Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2014, Denmark was ranked first together with New Zealand, followed by Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. In the index for 2015, Denmark was number one ahead of Finland and Sweden. Denmark is thus considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

We can therefore safely say that there is practically no corruption in Denmark. Norms are strong against corruption, and the risk of exposure by an active press is high. In the past, there was the occasional case of a local government official accepting “services” from business in exchange for contracts with the municipality, but such cases are rare. There have also occasionally been cases of officials using their representation accounts rather generously. Again, such cases are rare.
Citations:
Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2014, http://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results (accessed 14 December 2014, re-accessed 8 October 2015).

Transparency International, Corruption Perception Index 2015, http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015#results-table (Accessed 17 October 2016)
New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Prevention of corruption is strongly safeguarded by such independent institutions as the auditor general and the Office of the Ombudsman. In addition, New Zealand has ratified all relevant international anti-bribery conventions of the OECD and the United Nations. All available indices confirm that New Zealand scores particularly high regarding corruption prevention, including in the private sector.
Citations:
Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2016: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2016 (accessed October 24, 2016).
9
Finland
The overall level of corruption in Finland is low, with the country offering a solid example of how the consolidation of advanced democratic institutions may lead to the reduction of corruption. Several individual mechanisms contribute, including a strict auditing of state spending; new and more efficient regulations over party financing; legal provisions that criminalize the acceptance of brides; full access by the media and the public to relevant information; public asset declarations; and consistent legal prosecution of corrupt acts. However, the various integrity mechanisms still leave some room for potential abuse, and a 2014 European Commission report emphasized the need to make public-procurement decisions and election funding more transparent. It is also evident that positions in Finland are still filled through political appointment. Whereas only about 5% of citizens are party members, two-thirds of the state and municipal public servants are party members. Recently, several political-corruption charges dealing with bribery and campaign financing have been brought to light and have attracted media attention.
Citations:
Hung-En Sung, “Democracy and Political Corruption: A Cross-National Comparison”, Crime, Law & Social Change, Vol. 41, 2004, 179-194.
Sweden
Sweden has one of the lowest levels of corruption in the world. As a result, public trust in democratic institutions and public administration is comparatively high. There are, however, significant differences among government agencies in the level of trust they enjoy from citizens, with the National Tax Agency being the most trusted agency and the National Social Insurance Agency and the Labor Market Agency the least trusted.

Corruption at the state level remains extremely rare in Sweden. Regulatory systems safeguarding transparency and accountability, coupled with an overall administrative culture that strongly forbids corrupt behavior, prevent corruption. At the local government level, however, there have been an increasing number of reports of corruption and court decisions on related charges. This tendency has continued during the period of review.
Citations:
Olsson, J., H. Ekengren Oscarsson and M. Solevid (eds.) (2016), Eqvilibrium (Gothenburg: The SOM Institute).
Switzerland
Corruption in Switzerland is rare according to international rankings. Indeed, Switzerland is consistently rated as being among the most successful countries with respect to corruption prevention. It is governed by the rule of law, offers high wages to public officials, and is based on a decentralized democracy with parties that efficiently control and audit public officials.

However, there are opportunities and incentives for political and societal elites to abuse their position for private interests. This is due to the country’s small size and the correspondingly small number of persons interacting in elite positions; to the culture of amicable agreement; and to the very pragmatic problem-solving culture. In addition, holders of elite positions know that they are highly likely to meet again in the future (and probably in different roles). This creates opportunities for the creation of broad informal networks, a reluctance to engage in close mutual surveillance and incentives for the non-observance of formal rules.

Given the considerable overlap between economic and political elites, critics such as the Swiss office of Transparency International have pointed to processes in which politicians’ economic interests may influence their decisions in parliament.
USA
The U.S. federal government has elaborate and extensive mechanisms for auditing financial transactions, investigating potential abuses, and prosecuting criminal misconduct. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an ongoing, major focus on official corruption. Auditing of federal-spending programs occurs through congressional oversight as well as through independent control agencies such as the General Accountability Office (GAO) – which reports to Congress, rather than to the executive branch. The GAO also oversees federal public procurement. With all of the controls, executive-branch officials are effectively deterred from using their authority for private gain, and prosecutions for such offenses are rare. Still, incidents of financial corruption occasionally emerge both in the congressional and state-government spheres.

In 2016, the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the corruption conviction of a former governor of Virginia may potentially weaken anti-corruption efforts. While the governor had accepted loans and gifts from a businessman and had promoted his business interests in various ways while in office, the court relied on a finding that he had not acted out of corrupt motives in any official act.
 
Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
8
Australia
Corruption prevention is reasonably effective. Federal and state governments have established a variety of bodies to investigate corruption by politicians and public officials. Many of these bodies have the powers of Royal Commissions, which means that they can summon witnesses to testify.

At the federal level, these bodies include the Australian Crime Commission, charged with combating organized crime and public corruption, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the main corporate regulator, and the Australian National Audit Office.

Nonetheless, significant potential for corruption persists, particularly at the state and territory level. There have been isolated cases of misconduct in anti-corruption commissions. Allegations of corruption in the granting of mining leases have sparked public outcry, and a New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into corruption in the granting of such leases was in progress throughout the review period. This inquiry has led to the resignations of a number of members of the New South Wales parliament from both the Labor and Liberal parties.

Questions of propriety are also occasionally raised with respect to the awarding of government contracts. Tender processes are not always open, and “commercial-in-confidence” is often cited as the reason for non-disclosure of contracts with private-sector firms, raising concerns of favorable treatment extended to friends or favored constituents. Questions of inappropriate personal gain have also been raised when ministers leave Parliament to immediately take up positions in companies they had been responsible for regulating.

However, Australia has been reluctant to address cross-border corruption. A notable exception is the recent action of Australian federal police, which in October 2014 commenced to seize assets of allegedly corrupt Chinese officials. This joint operation with Chinese authorities has been a novelty.

Members of the senate and the House of Representatives are required to report on their financial interests within 28 days of taking the oath of office. These registers were adopted by resolution of the House of Representatives on 8 October 1984 and the senate on 17 March 1994. However, there have been instances of failure to comply with this requirement, usually with no consequences for the member concerned. Ministers are further subject to a Ministerial Code of Conduct, introduced in 1996, which articulates guidelines for ministerial conduct. However, this code has no legal standing, and is therefore unenforceable.

Citations:
http://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/investigations/current-investigations

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/23/australia-slow-to-tackle-international-corruption-with-just-one-case-in-court

http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-17/systemic-corruption-inside-ccc-watchdog-finds/6554220
Austria
Corruption has become a major topic of discussion in Austria. In recent years, scandals concerning prominent politicians (including former cabinet members) and industries dependent on government decisions have been exposed in increasing numbers, and thoroughly investigated. In consequence, a special branch of the public prosecutor’s office dealing especially with corruption (Korruptionsstaatsanwaltschaft) has been established. This office is seen as a significant improvement on the earlier system, although it remains far from perfect with respect to political independence. The more proactive approach taken by government, represented for example in the activities of the Korruptionsstaaatsanwaltschaft, have yielded positive results.

As a consequence of the bankruptcy of a major bank (Alpen-Adria Hypo), the links between politics and business are openly discussed more than ever. Parliamentary committees at the state and federal levels have been able to bring some light to the affair and courts have successfully prosecuted highly connected persons (including politicians).
Belgium
A number of corruption cases and issues of conflicts of interest, widely covered by the media, has pushed government reforms toward a higher level of regulation of public officers. Since 2006, the federal auditing commission of state spending is responsible for publicizing the mandates of all public officeholders. Assets held before and after a period in public office also have to be declared. Although the asset information is not published, the information does have legal value as it can be used in the event of a legal case (public officeholders therefore complete comprehensive declarations); such a practice appears to be effective (and various politicians have been investigated, after the financial crisis and bailout plans).

Since 1993, political parties have been funded by public subsidies based on electoral results. Private donations by firms are not allowed. This practice is often criticized as a means of preserving the political status quo, as the system makes it difficult for an outsider to enter the political scene.

To prevent further corruption scandals, public procurement above a certain value must follow strict rules. Overall, the fight against outright corruption gained in effectiveness over the last years, as data from Transparency International demonstrate.
Citations:
http://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/belgium

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/belgium/corruption-rank
Canada
Canada has historically ranked very high for the extent to which public officeholders are prevented from abusing their position for private interests. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Canada among the top 10 least corrupt countries in the world.

In recent years, however, the country saw a number of high profile corruption scandals. Perhaps the most consequential scandal revolves around an investigation (which started in 2012) of wrongful travel and living allowance expense claims made by four members of the Canadian Senate. All four senators have since been suspended and three of them were criminally charged. As a result, the Auditor General of Canada examined expense claims made by all the other senators, identifying in a 2015 report thirty whose claims were ineligible; of these, nine cases were referred for police investigation. The Senate expense scandal has renewed calls to reform the Senate or abolish the upper house entirely. In early 2014, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau expelled all 32 Liberal senators to sit as Independents, part of a proposed plan to overhaul Senate appointments to ensure it is a non-partisan body.
Estonia
Abuses of power and corruption have been the subject of considerable governmental and public concern. On the one hand, Estonia has succeeded in setting up a solid institutional and legal structure to prevent corruption, with the National Audit Office, the national parliament’s Select Committee on the Application of Anticorruption Act, the Supervision Committee and the Anticorruption Act of 2013. On the other hand, cases of illegal conduct among high-level civil servants, municipality officials or political-party leaders do emerge from time to time. Such cases can be regarded as evidence of the efficiency of anticorruption policy. However, they also indicate that loopholes remain in the public procurement process and in party-financing regulations, for example.

In 2015, the number of registered corruption offences increased by 21% as compared to 2014 (from 355 to 450). It is important to note that corruption offences are often repeated acts committed by the same persons, and one court case can include a number of criminal acts. Currently, two large court cases include 30% of all criminal offences registered in 2015. Thus, while the number of criminal offences increases, the number of court cases decreases. Most corruption offences (188) were registered in connection with state agencies (inspectorates, boards, legal entities founded by the state), whereas corruption cases at the municipality level continued to decrease (24).
Citations:
Ministry of Justice (2016). Kuritegevus Eestis (Crime in Estonia) http://www.kriminaalpoliitika.ee/sites/krimipoliitika/files/elfinder/dokumendid/kuritegevus_eestis_2015.pdf (accessed 31.Oct. 2016)
Germany
Despite several corruption scandals over the past decade, Germany performs better than most of its peers. According to the World Bank’s 2016 Worldwide Governance Indicators, Germany is in the top category in this area, outperforming countries including France, Japan and the United States, but falls behind Scandinavian countries, Singapore and New Zealand. Germany’s overall performance has also improved relative to other countries. In 2016, Germany ranked 10th out of 215 countries compared to 15th in 2010 (World Bank 2016).

The country’s Federal Court of Audit (Bundesrechnungshof) provides for independent auditing of national spending under the terms of the Basic Law (Art. 114 sec. 2). According to the 2011 Audit Report, the revenues and expenditures of the federal authorities were in general properly documented.

Financial transparency for office holders is another core issue in terms of corruption prevention. Until very recently, provisions concerning required income declarations by members of parliament have been comparatively loose. For example, various NGOs have criticized the requirements for MPs in documenting extra income which merely stipulate that they identify which of the three tax rate intervals they fall under. This procedure provides no clarity with respect to potential external influences related to politicians’ financial interests. However, beginning with the current parliamentary term, members of the German Bundestag have to provide additional details about their ancillary income in a ten-step income list. Auxiliary income exceeding €250,000 is the uppermost category. A total of 164 members of parliament declared additional income. Since the last general election, the auxiliary incomes of four parliament members (all members of the conservative party in government, CDU/CSU) exceeded €1,000,000. In addition, 40 parliamentarians declared additional income of at least €100,000. According to abgeordnetenwatch.de, the 10-step system is also flawed. It appears likely that, in order to avoid public attention, members of parliament may resort to partitioning their auxiliary income. Thus, the current system remains an insufficient transparency regime unable to eradicate corruption or conflict of interests. Instead, it incentivizes declaring auxiliary income in slices of lesser amounts.
Citations:
World Bank (2016): http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#home
https://www.abgeordnetenwatch.de/blog/nebeneinkuenfte2016
Ireland
The legal framework and rules regarding standards in public office have been progressively tightened and extended over time in Ireland.

In January 2014, Public Service Reform Plan 2014 – 2016 was published. Its stated goal was to maintain momentum with regard to reducing costs and increasing efficiency in the public sector, “to deliver greater openness, transparency and accountability and to strengthen trust in government and public services.”

Many proposed reforms are still at the planning stage, and it is too early to assess their impact on the integrity of officeholders and public servants.
Citations:
The 2014 Public Services Reform Plan is available here:
http://reformplan.per.gov.ie/
Luxembourg
After a parliamentary inquiry into a large building project in Wickrange in 2012, in which the prime minister and other government ministers were suspected of improperly favoring a company, the government proposed a code of conduct in April 2013. The code, which references existing codes such as a European Commission code, defines the types of gifts or favors a minister may or may not receive. It also outlines a range of professional activities a minister may undertake after their ministerial term. The overall objective is to avoid conflicts of interests. In addition, an ethics committee will offer opinions concerning the interpretation of specific situations. The revised text was signed by each minister and came into force in December 2014. Transparency International Luxembourg supports the code of conduct, giving credibility to the ministers. But steps need to be taken to ensure sanctions will be imposed on the parties concerned and adjustments are still needed.

The fourth European evaluation of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) called for the rapid implementation of the group’s anti-corruption guidelines, in order to prevent corruption within the public authorities. Only one of the group’s 14 recommendations has been implemented into national law so far and other directives have not been transposed or have been only partially implemented yet.
Citations:
“2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.” Transparency International, www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Corruption Perceptions Index 2012.” Transparency International, www.transparency.org/cpi2012. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Eurobarometer - Corruption.” European Commission, ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_397_fact_lu_en.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Félix Braz présente le nouveau Code de déontologie pour les ministres.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, 22 July 2014, www.gouvernement.lu/3870893/22-braz-code. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Luxembourg moves up two spots in Corruption Perceptions Index.” Luxembourg for Finance, 3 Dec. 2014, www.luxembourgforfinance.com/en/news/luxembourg-moves-two-spots-corruption-perceptions-index. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Projet de règlement grand-ducal fixant les règles déontologiques des membres du Gouvernement et leurs devoirs et droits dans l’exercice de la fonction. Le Ministère de la Justice du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, 2014. www.gouvernement.lu/3871867/Dossier-de-presse-Code-de-deontologie-22-7-14doc.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Transparency International Luxembourg, www.transparency.lu. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Transparency of lobbying in Member States. European Parliamentary Research Service, 2016. www.europarl.europa.eu/EPRS/Transparency_of_lobbying_in_Member_States.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
Norway
There are few instances of corruption in Norway. The few cases of government corruption that have surfaced in recent years have primarily been at the regional or municipal level, or in various public bodies related to social aid. As a rule, corrupt officeholders are prosecuted under established laws. There is a great social stigma against corruption, even in its minor manifestations. However, there has been growing concern over government corruption in specific areas such as building permits. During the last few years, the incidence of corruption related to investments and overseas Norwegian business activities has increased. The government has had a significant ownership share in some of the firms involved.
UK
The United Kingdom is comparatively free of explicit corruption like bribery or fraud, and there is little evidence that explicit corruption influences decision-making at national level. Occasional episodes arise of limited and small-scale corruption at local level, usually around property development. The delinquents of recent scandals in UK politics mostly acted within the law. However, these scandals point to a continuing gap between politicians’ attitudes and the public’s expectations. Regulations against corruption have already been formalized to strengthen them, with the 2004 Corruption Bill consolidating and updating regulations into one law. On most international comparisons, the UK comes out with strong scores.



The MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009 provoked a call for more transparency in this field, but is an example of an informal “British” approach to the political problem of not wanting to raise MPs’ salaries. Instead, there was a tacit understanding that they could claim generous expenses. The rules were tightened very substantially in the wake of the scandal, and an independent body was set up to regulate MP’s expenses. Codes of practice, such as the Civil Service Code and the Ministerial Code, have been revised (the latter in October 2015, following the election) and are publicly available. The volume of material published has been overwhelming, with examples range from lists of dinner guests at Chequers (the prime minster’s country residence) to details of spending on government credit cards. The most recent report (December 2015) from the independent adviser on ministerial interest appears to present a clean bill of health and notes that no reason to investigate any breaches of the ministerial code since 2012.



At a more subtle level, influence based on connections and friendships can occur, but rarely with direct financial implications. However, some regulatory decisions may be affected by the exercise of such influence.


Citations:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/468255/Final_draft_ministerial_code_No_AMENDS_14_Oct.pdf
7
Latvia
Latvia’s main integrity mechanism is the Corruption Combating and Prevention Bureau (Korupcijas novēršanas un apkarošanas birojs, KNAB). The Group of States Against Corruption has recognized KNAB as an effective institution, yet has identified the need to further strengthen institutional independence to remove concerns of political interference. KNAB has seen several controversial leadership changes and remains plagued by a persistent state of internal management disarray. Internal conflicts have spilled into the public sphere. For example, the KNAB director and deputy director have been embroiled in a series of court cases over disciplinary measures, which continued through 2015 and 2016. These court cases ended with the director dismissing two deputy directors in the summer of 2016. Both have appealed their dismissal. The director adopted an administrative approach that resulted in a high turnover of qualified staff. Furthermore, these scandals have weakened public trust in the institution. The results of an April 2014 public-opinion poll, commissioned by KNAB itself, found that public trust in KNAB had declined between 2007 and 2014, when public trust in other public institutions had increased. The director’s term concluded in November 2016 and he has not been offered a second term. The selection process for a new KNAB director has become problematic, as the first advertised competitive procedure yielded no results. As of November 2016, a second selection procedure has yet to be announced.

The Conflict of Interest Law is the key piece of legislation relating to officeholder integrity. The Conflict of Interest Law created a comprehensive financial disclosure system and introduced a requirement for all violations to be publicly disclosed. In 2012, all Latvian citizens were required to make a one-time asset declaration in order to create a financial baseline against which the assets of public officeholders could be compared. This information is confidential and there is no publicly available evaluation of the efficacy of this policy.

Party-financing regulations contain significant transparency requirements, limitations on donation sources and size, and campaign expenditure caps. In 2011, a major political party voluntarily dissolved to avoid paying a substantial fine for campaign financing violations, while electoral support for a second political party collapsed after they too had received a similar fine. Until the introduction of a public financing mechanism in 2012, political parties were privately financed. KNAB is charged with oversight of public financing for political parties. In 2012, violations of campaign-finance laws were criminalized, but no criminal cases have yet been presented. In 2016, multiple parties were sanctioned for violations of public financing rules. Vienotiba, a major parliamentary party, has had its public funding withdrawn due to violations of campaign finance restrictions.

The slow progress of cases through the court systems undermines efforts to assess the system’s effectiveness. However, the available statistics indicate some positive trends. In 2013, for example, the number of persons tried in the court of first instance decreased to 85 (compared to 108 in 2012), while only 20 public officials were convicted of misdeeds, the lowest such number since 2004. Cases brought in 2013 were few and simple, evidenced by the fact that most judgment had already come into force by mid-2014, and no defendant received a prison sentence. In 2011, officials of the Riga City Council Development Department were convicted of taking bribes exceeding €1 million. In 2012, by contrast, the largest bribe exposed was under €4,000.
Citations:
1. Corruption °C (2012), Updated Statistics on Convictions for Corruption Offences (2013 Data Added), Available at: http://corruption-c.wikidot.com/, Last assessed: 16.11.2015.

2. Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO)(2012), Fourth Evaluation Round, Corruption Prevention in Respect of Members of Parliament, Judges and Prosecutors, Evaluation Report, Available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round4/GrecoEval4%282012%293_Latvia_EN.pdf, Last assessed: 21.05.2013

3. Freedom House (2012), Nations in Transit, Country Report, Available at: http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/NIT2012Latvia_final.pdf, Last assessed: 21.05.2013

4. KNAB (2014), Attitudes toward Corruption in Latvia (in Latvian), Available at: http://www.knab.gov.lv/uploads/free/knab_lf_aptauja2014.pdf, Last assessed: 22.10.2014
Portugal
Under Portuguese law, abuse of position is prohibited and criminalized. However, as elsewhere, corruption persists despite the legal framework. A 2012 assessment of the Portuguese Integrity System by the Portuguese branch of Transparency International concluded that the “political, cultural, social and economic climate in Portugal does not provide a solid ethical basis for the efficient fight against corruption,” and identified the political system and the enforcement system as the most fragile elements of the country’s integrity system. Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Portugal 28 out of 168 countries, an improvement of five positions on the last two years. However, Transparency International’s ratings are based on public perceptions and are entirely subjective. Therefore, either recent laws are taking effect, the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases has affected public perceptions or other countries have become more corrupt.

A law was approved by the Assembly of the Republic in September 2011 on the illicit enrichment of public officeholders. However, this legislation was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in April 2012. While practically all the parties that voted for the legislation declared that they would bring new legislation on this issue, no new legislation had been approved by the end of the review period.

Efforts have been made at the state level to impede corruption, although there remains room for improvement in terms of the implementation of anti-corruption plans. A survey by the Council for the Prevention of Corruption, published in June 2015, noted that half of the country’s public entities admitted to having applied only parts of their corruption-prevention plans. The reasons given were largely related to a lack of human, technical and financial resources.

In October 2016, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) released a report focusing on corruption involving deputies, judges and district attorneys. It analyzed the weaknesses in various administrative and legal systems which facilitate corruption.

Former prime minister José Sócrates (2005-2011) remains under investigation for alleged corruption, money laundering and tax fraud, as do other important government officials from the Socrates government. Some of these officials have been detained due to suspicions of corruption in the granting visas.
Citations:
Maria Lopes (2015), “Entidades públicas têm de reforçar planos de prevenção da corrupção,” Público online, 15/06/2015, available online at: http://www.publico.pt/politica/noticia/entidades-publicas-tem-que-reforcar-planos-de-prevencao-da-corrupcao-1699049

Patricia Pires, “Europa quer mais medidas contra a corrupcao em Portugal,” Reuters 2 October 2016.
Netherlands
The Netherlands is considered a corruption-free country. In Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2015, the Netherlands ranked joint 5 out of 168 countries. This may well explain why its anti-corruption policy is relatively underdeveloped. The Dutch prefer to talk about “committing fraud” rather than “corrupt practices,” and about improving “integrity” and “transparency” rather than openly talking of fighting or preventing corruption, which appears to be a taboo issue.

Research on corruption is mostly focused on the public sector and much more on petty corruption by civil servants than on mega-corruption by mayors, aldermen, top-level provincial administrators, elected representatives or ministers. The private sector and civil-society associations are largely left out of the picture. Almost all public-sector organizations now have an integrity code of conduct. However, the soft law approach to integrity means that “hard” rules and sanctions against fraud, corruption and inappropriate use of administrative power are underdeveloped.

There have been more and more frequently major corruption scandals in the public sector involving top-executives – particularly in (government-commissioned) construction of infrastructure and housing, but also in schools and health care and transport. Transparency problems in the public sector concern job nominations, and salaries for top-level administrators and additional jobs.

In the private sector, 26% of respondents in a recent survey were convinced of the occurrence of corruption in the Netherlands. In dealing with foreign governments or companies, a majority considered bribes inevitable and “normal.” Van Hulten (2012) notes that bribes and corruption by Dutch companies in foreign countries would amount to some €10 billion annually. In December 2014, the OECD urged the Dutch government to speed up the passage of rules and law-enforcement actions against Dutch companies that violate international anti-corruption rules in their international operations.

In at least three (out of 17) areas, the Netherlands does not meet the standards for effective integrity policy as identified by Transparency International. All three involve preventing corruption and taking sanctions against corruption. In July 2016, a new law for the protection of whistle-blowers went into force. Experts consider the law to be largely symbolic, with real legal protection remaining low and administrative costs high.
Citations:
Transparency International Nederland (2015), Nationaal Integriteitssysteem Landenstudie Nederland.

A.J.P. Tiller, Ontwikkelingen rond corruptiebestrijding in Nederland, 2015 (transparency.nl, consulted 2 November 2015)

M. van Hulten, ‘Nederland – corruptieland’, in Tijdschrift voor Politieke Filosofie en Cultuur Civis Mundi, http://www.civismundi.nl/index.php, digitaal nummer 13, 2012 onder thema 26.

“Crimineel weet welke agent hij hebben wil”, in NRC-Handelsblad, 11 October 2015

Juridisch Actueel, Klokkenluiderswet is een feit, 15 March 2016 (juridischactueel.nl, consulted 9 November 2016)

Additional references:

Heuvel, J.H.J. van den, L.W.J.C. Huberts & E.R. Muller (Red.) 2012. Integriteit: Integriteit en integriteitsbeleid in Nederland. Deventer: Kluwer
6
Chile
In general terms, the integrity of the public sector is a given, especially on the national level. The most notable problem consists in the strong ties between high-level officials and the private sector. Political and economic elites overlap significantly, thus reinforcing privilege. This phenomenon was particularly problematic under the previous government, as many members of the Alianza – including President Sebastián Piñera himself – were powerful businesspeople. The phenomenon can still be observed in the current government, though at a less extreme level. Such entanglements produce conflicts of interest in the policymaking process (e.g., in regulatory affairs). There are no regulations enabling monitoring of conflicts of interest for high-ranking politicians (e.g., the president and ministers). However, there are some independent projects on the rise to arouse public awareness on this issue.

The scandals revealed during the last two years have shown that corruption and abuses of power within Chile’s political and economic elite is in fact more common than (international) indicators regarding corruption and transparency suggest. It is unclear how state institutions will confront these challenges. During the period under review, a minister and an undersecretary of state of the former government were convicted of corruption. As a response to this crisis, President Bachelet convoked a council (Consejo Asesor Presidencial contra los Conflictos de Interés, el Tráfico de Influencias y la Corrupción) that in its final report (April 2015) proposed several anticorruption measures intended to prevent abuse of office. Due to their conclusions, restrictions on private campaign funding (Ley sobre Fortalecimiento y Transparencia de la Democracia) and the creation of a public register for all lobbyists were implemented in 2016.
Citations:
http://consejoanticorrupcion.cl/

http://consejoanticorrupcion.cl/lanzamiento-final/

https://www.leylobby.gob.cl/

http://www.latercera.com/noticia/estas-son-las-normas-que-fija-la-nueva-ley-para-regular-el-financiamiento-de-campanas-politicas/
Czech Rep.
In the Czech Republic, corruption has remained widespread. Subsequent governments have emphasized their commitment to fight corruption, but have done little to effectively address the issue. Two major changes were adopted in 2016, the amendment to the law on party finance and the amendment to the law on conflict of interest, the so-called Lex Babiš in September 2016. In addition to making media ownership and governmental positions incompatible, the latter law prevents companies in which members of government hold more than 25% of shares from participating in public procurement processes and from receiving public subsidies. The adoption of this law, which was supported by all parliamentary parties excluding Babiš’s ANO, followed allegations that companies owned by Babiš’s holding Agrofert, the largest beneficiary of EU funding and state subsidies in the Czech Republic, had misused subsidies. At the same time, however, the controversial merger of organized crime and anticorruption police units announced in June 2016 has raised some doubts about the government’s commitment to fight corruption.
France
Up to the 1990s, corruption plagued French administration. Much of the problem was linked to secret party financing, as political parties often sought out alternative methods of funding when member fees and/or public subsidies lacked. Methods included on the national level weapons sales to brokering lucrative contracts with multinational companies, or on the local level, public purchasing to the awarding of long-term concessions for local public services. Judicial investigations revealed extraordinary scandals, which resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of industrial and political leaders. The cases themselves were a key factor for the growing awareness of the prevalence of corruption in France. This led to substantive action to establish stricter rules, both over party financing and transparency in public purchases and concessions. The opportunities to cheat, bypass or evade these rules however are still too many, and too many loopholes still exist. A scandal in March 2013 involving a minister of finance who is accused of alleged tax fraud and money laundering has put the issues of corruption, fiscal evasion and conflict of interest on the public agenda. In reaction, government ministers have been obliged to make public their personal finances; parliamentarians are also obliged to do so, but their declarations are not made public and media are forbidden from publishing them. Only individual citizens can consult these disclosures and only in the constituency where the MP was elected. However, these hastily adopted measures are still incomplete and do not tackle critical problems related to corruption, such as the huge and largely unchecked powers of mayors (who are responsible for land planning and public tenders), the rather superficial and lax controls of regional courts of accounts, the intertwining of public and private elites, the holding by one person of many different political offices or political mandates simultaneously (cumul des mandats). All these factors, by themselves, do not constitute acts of corruption, but can lead to it – particularly as the legal definition of corruption is narrow and thus reduces the possibility to effectively sanction any malpractice. Cases of corruption related to the funding of political campaigns by foreign African states or through unchecked defense contracts are currently (at the time of this writing) before the courts. Moreover, the accounts of the Sarkozy campaign in 2012 were rejected by the Constitutional Council and the public funding granted to candidates refused as a consequence. Since then, the finances of his party are under investigation and some instances of malpractice have been identified. As long as legal codes to regulate conflicts of interest (beyond the case of ministers or parliamentarians) have not been adopted and seriously enforced, corruption will continue, unimpeded by sanctions. The legal anti-corruption framework has recently been strengthened by the “Sapin law” adopted by the end of 2016, which complements present legislation on various fronts (conflict of interests, protection of whistleblowers).
Israel
A survey of the Israeli legal framework identifies three primary channels of a corruption-prevention strategy: 1) maintaining popular trust in public management (including bank managers and large public-oriented corporations’ owners), 2) ensuring the proper conduct of public servants and 3) ensuring accountability within the civil service. Israel pursues these goals by various means: It established a legal and ethical framework to guide civil servants and the courts, reinforced the position of the State Comptroller through the passage of a basic law (1988) in order insure government accountability, adapted the civil-service commission’s authority to manage human resources (e.g., appointments, salaries) and so forth. In 2005, Israel was one of 140 states to sign a national anti-corruption treaty and began implementing it in 2009, issuing annual progress reports.

Annual opinion surveys demonstrate that Israeli citizens are concerned about high levels of corruption in their country. Criticism of Israel’s centralized public-service structure has been mounting, in part because it is characterized by several very powerful ministries with broad ability to engage in discretionary spending. These powers detract from accountability, leaving room for corruption.

Criminal inquiries into politicians are common. Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was on trial for fraud, money laundering and breach of trust. Former Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson was indicted for a number of crimes including aggravated fraud, theft, breach of trust and money laundering. In 2014, the court issued an historic ruling, sentencing former PM Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for accepting bribes while serving as mayor of Jerusalem. Recently, Natanya’s Maor, Miriam Fireberg, was arrested on suspicion of receiving bribes and several top Yisrael Beytenu leaders will face indictments for bribery, fraud, money-laundering and, in one case, drug offenses.

One aspect of institutional corruption lies in bureaucracy. Studies have shown that corruption gets an extra institutional incentive where private businesses face the difficulties that bureaucracy raises. Where bureaucracy is complicated corruption can thrive. In 2016, PM Netanyahu and several other politicians are in the center of an ongoing investigation, accused of corruption and bribery attempts. According to the head of the police’s fraud investigations task force, General Meni Yitzhaki, Israel does not suffer from widespread corruption but rather “islands of corruption.” General Yitzhaki claimed that the Israeli police “treat corruption as a criminal organization.”
Citations:
Aliasuf, Itzak, “Ethics of public servants in Israel,” 1991 (Hebrew)
http://mishkenot.org.il/Hebrew/docs/ethics/%D7%9E%D7%90%D7%9E%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D-D7%90%D7%A8%D7%92%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9D%20%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D/%D7%90%D7%AA%D7%99%D7%A7%D7%94%20%D7%A9%D7%9C%20%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%91%D7%93%D7%99%20%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%20%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C.pdf
Hovel, Revital, “Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sentenced to 6 years in prison”, haaretz 13.5.2014:
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/1.590298
Knalfman, Ana ,“Political corruption in Israel,” IDI website 13.11.2010 (Hebrew).
Shahar Levi, Zohar, “The head of the Israel Police fraud investigations task force: We have number corruption affairs in line”, Calcalist 19.5.2015:
http://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3659694,00.html (Hebrew).
“Israel-phase 2,” Ministry of Justice, December 2009
“85% of Israelis think corruption is widespread in business,” The Times of Israel, 12.5.2012.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/85-of-israelis-think-corruption-widespread-in-business/
”Massive scope of Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal revealed”, Ynet 25.12.2014:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4607728,00.html
“Corruption investigation explores bribe attempts from Netanyahu”, The Jerusalem Post, 9/9/2016, http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Benjamin-Netanyahu/Corruption-investigation-explores-bribe-attempts-from-Netanyahu-467347
Transparency International: Corruption Perception Index 2016.
http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016
Ariel, Omri, New poll shows 72% view Israel as a corrupt country, 08.01.2016,
http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/in-israel/local/poll-72-see-israel-as-corrupt-18361
Italy
The Italian legal system has a significant set of rules and judicial and administrative mechanisms (with ex ante and ex post controls) to prevent officeholders from abusing their position, but their effectiveness is doubtful. The Audit Court (Corte dei Conti) itself – one of the main institutions responsible for the fight against corruption – indicates in its annual reports that corruption remains one of the biggest problems of the Italian administration. The high number of cases exposed by the judiciary and the press indicates that the extent of corruption is high, and is particularly common in the areas of public works, procurement, and local building permits. It suggests also that existing instruments for the fight against corruption must be significantly reconsidered to make them less legalistic and more practically efficient. The Monti government introduced an important anti-corruption law (Legge 6, Novembre 2012, no. 190). In 2014, the Anti-Corruption Authority was significantly strengthened and its anti-corruption activity progressively increased (see 2015 ANAC Report). In 2015, new legislation proposed by the Renzi government was approved by parliament. The legislative decree of 18 April 2016, n. 50 on public tenders should reduce the impact of corruption in one of the economy’s most delicate sectors.

In general, the ongoing reform of public administration should also contribute to tackling administrative abuses.
Citations:
http://www.anticorruzione.it/portal/rest/jcr/repository/collaboration/Digital Assets/anacdocs/Attivita/Pubblicazioni
Lithuania
Corruption is not sufficiently contained in Lithuania. In the World Bank’s 2015 Worldwide Governance Indicators, Lithuania scored 70.2 out of 100 on the issue of corruption control, up from 68.8 in 2014. The 2013 Eurobarometer poll revealed that Lithuania had the European Union’s highest percentage (29%) of respondents who claimed that they had been asked for or expected to pay a bribe for services over the past 12 months, compared to an EU average of 4%. In the Transparency International Corruption Perception index, Lithuania scored 62 out of 100 and ranked 32 out of 168 countries in 2015, up 43 in 2013. According to the new Index of Public Integrity, Lithuania was ranked 25 out of 105 countries overall, but only 85 out of 105 countries for budget transparency.

Anti-corruption policy is based on the National Program on the Fight Against Corruption (2011– 2014), which has two primary building blocks: eliminating or minimizing conditions that enable corruption, and enforcing penalties in cases of identified corruption. One of Lithuania’s key corruption prevention measures is an anti-corruption assessment of draft legislation, which grants the Special Investigation Service the authority to carry out corruption tests. According to the Lithuanian Corruption Map of 2011, the most corrupt institutions were the health care sector, the parliament, the courts, the police, and the local authorities. Bribery is perceived to be the main form of corruption by most average Lithuanians, while businesspeople and civil servants respectively identified nepotism and party patronage as the most frequent forms of corruption. According to the World Economic Forum, Lithuanian firms perceive corruption as one of the most problematic factors for doing business in the country. Since state and municipal institutions often inadequately estimate the likelihood of corruption risks, not all corruption causes and conditions are addressed in anti-corruption action plans. The European Commission has suggested that Lithuania should develop a strategy against informal payments in healthcare, and improve the control of declarations of conflicts of interest made by elected and appointed officials. The transparency of political party financing also requires additional efforts, as illustrated by the recent investigation into the former leader of the Liberal Movement for allegedly accepting a €106,000 bribe from a vice-president of a major business group for “certain decisions that benefit the corporation.”
Citations:
The Worldwide Governance Indicators of World Bank are available at http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/#home
The Lithuanian Corruption Map is available at http://transparency.lt/media/filer_ public/2013/01/22/korupcijos_zemela pis_2011.pdf.
See the 2016 - 2017 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GCR2016-2017/05FullReport/TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2016-2017_FINAL.pdf
The European Commission. Annex 15 to the EU Anti-Corruption Report: Lithuania. Brussels, 3.2.2014. COM (2014) 38 final.
the Transparency International Corruption Perception index is available at http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015
The Index of Public Integrity is available at http://integrity-index.org/
The European Commission. Annex 15 to the EU Anti-Corruption Report: Lithuania. Brussels, 3.2.2014. COM (2014) 38 final.
Poland
Corruption has been a major political issue in the period under review. On the one hand, the PiS government has accused the previous government of corruption. However, the evidence for this claim provided in the government’s May 2016 report on the wrongdoings of the PO-PSL governments has been meager. The report has not yet led to many investigations and arrests. On the other hand, the PiS government has itself been under fire for corruption and cronyism in state-owned enterprises. In September 2016, Minister of the Treasury Dawid Jackiewicz lost his job for filling major positions in state-owned enterprises with PiS acolytes with limited qualification. The director of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), Paweł Wojtunik, who had come into office after the arrest of its controversial former head Mariusz Kamiński in 2010, was forced to resign in November 2016 when Kamiński, who had become the new coordinator of the secret services, questioned his security certificate. Wojtunik was replaced by Ernest Bejda, a close collaborator of Kamiński.
Slovenia
Corruption has been publicly perceived as one of the most serious problems in Slovenia since 2011. The incoming Cerar government adopted a detailed new two year anti-corruption action plan in January 2015. In 2016, the number of corruption cases investigated increased, indicating increased attention by and effectiveness of the police. While the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC), the central anti-corruption body, managed to upgrade its Supervisor web-platform and launch its successor Erar in July 2016, it has remained under fire. At the end of February 2016, the OECD working group on Bribery joined domestic critics and criticized the CPC’s lack of autonomy and resources, as well as Slovenia’s limited implementation of the Anti-Bribery Convention. The failure of parliament to adopt an ethical code for members of parliament and strengthen whistleblower protection has further raised the doubts about the political elite’s commitment to fight corruption.
Citations:
OECD Working Group on Bribery (2016): Statement on Slovenia’s limited implementation of the Anti-Bribery Convention. February 24 (http://www.oecd.org/corruption/public-statement-on-slovenia-s-implementation-of-the-anti-bribery-convention-2016.htm).
Spain
Corruption levels have plausibly declined in Spain since the real-estate bubble burst in the wake of the 2008 crisis. Massive spending cuts since that time have also arguably helped bring down corruption levels. Nonetheless, perceived corruption levels and Spain’s position in international indices such as Transparency International’s CPI have worsened since the early 2000s. Spain was ranked at 20th place worldwide at the beginning of last decade, but has fallen to 41st place in 2016. This can be attributed to the fact that cases currently moving through the legal system are based on past events and activities that are now receiving considerable media attention. Spaniards are also showing a decreased tolerance for the abuse of public office.

The corruption cases now being investigated typically involve illegal donations by private companies to specific parties in exchange for favors from the administration, or simply personal enrichment on the part of officeholders. There have also been several cases of fraudulent subsidies received by individuals close to the governing political parties, and some “revolving door” conflict-of-interest cases involving politicians and industries affected by regulation.

Nevertheless, new legislation intended to dissuade such behavior has been introduced recently. This legislation involves a change made to party-funding regulations, a new transparency law, and reforms of the criminal code and the public-procurement law. In addition, systematic audits of public accounts are mandatory, and officeholders must make an asset declaration. Moreover, very few corruption cases have involved career civil servants, and everyday interactions between citizens and the administration are typically characterized by a high level of integrity.
Citations:
November 2016, Global Corruption Barometer
https://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/publication/7493

Corruption Perceptions Index
https://www.transparency.org/country/ESP

October 2016, Group of States against Corruption, Council of Europe
http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round4/RC4/GrecoRC4(2016)1_Spain_EN.pdf
 
Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
5
Croatia
Corruption is one of the key issues facing the Croatian political system, and ranked high on the agenda of the accession negotiations with the European Union. Upon coming to office in 2009, Prime Minister Kosor made the fight against corruption one of her priorities and succeeded in improving the legal framework and its enforcement. The implementation of anti-corruption measures was gradually reinforced in 2013 and 2014. However, the fight against corruption lost ground in 2015, when major verdicts, most notably the conviction of former Prime Minister Sanader, were annulled for procedural reasons and prominent indicted political actors, including the mayor of Zagreb, were able to re-enter the political scene after having paid considerable bailout sums. Under the Orešković government, HDZ and MOST struggled over control of USKOK (Ured za Suzbijanje Korupcije i Organiziranog Kriminala, Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption). In June 2016, the HDZ chairman and vice deputy prime minister, Tomislav Karamarko, eventually resigned after the parliament’s commission for the conflict of interests ruled that there was a conflict of interest given his connections to a lobbyist for oil company MOL.
Greece
Public officeholders are not efficiently prevented from exploiting their offices for private gain, but things changed in the period under review. In 2011, Greece’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score was far lower than that of all other EU member states, except for Bulgaria. In 2012, Greece’s score fell below that of Bulgaria, but in 2014 Greece again caught up with Bulgaria and both countries were ranked at the 69th rank among 175 countries (Denmark was ranked first, as the least corrupt country, followed by other Scandinavian countries).

After Syriza’s rise to power in January 2015, the earlier lack of resolve among political and administrative elites to control corruption was reversed. However, the Syriza-ANEL coalition was undecided on how to steer anti-corruption policy. In January 2015, a new post of Minister for Anti-Corruption was established; in September the post was abolished and a post of Deputy Minister for Anti-Corruption was created and subsumed under the supervision of the Minister of Justice. A new General Secretariat on Anti-Corruption was created under the aforementioned Minister, but remains understaffed.

Still, in the period under review, the justice system intensified its efforts, not so much to prevent, as to punish corruption. In June 2016 in Thessaloniki a top prosecutor started investigated cases of fraud by civil servants. And, in October 2016, a court in Xanthi (a city in northern Greece) imposed a life sentence to a former general manager of a municipal company for having stolen/embezzled? 1.4 million euros. In short, there has been some visible progress in anti-corruption.
Citations:
https://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results. Accessed on 05.11.2015. Law 4254/2014 (section IE), passed in April 2014, contains very strict penalties for public officials receiving briberies and also protects whistleblowers who help prosecuting authorities to fight corruption in the public sector. Law 4320/2015, passed in March 2015, re-organizes anti-corruption authorities, by assigning the relevant tasks to a new General Secretariat and a Minister of Anti-corruption.
Iceland
Financial corruption in politics is not viewed as a serious problem in Iceland, but in-kind corruption – such as granting favors and paying for personal goods with public funds – does occur. Regulatory amendments in 2006, which introduced requirements to disclose sources of political party financing, should reduce such corruption in the future.

In very rare cases, politicians are put on trial for corruption. Iceland has no policy framework specifically addressing corruption because historically corruption has been considered a peripheral subject. However, the appointment of unqualified persons to public office, a form of in-kind corruption, has been and remains a serious concern. Other, subtle forms of in-kind corruption, which are hard to quantify, also exist. The political scientist GissurÓ. Erlingsson claims that corruption in mature democracies, including Iceland, is perhaps more of the character of nepotism, cronyism, and “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

The collapse of the Icelandic banks in 2008 and the subsequent investigation by the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), among other bodies, highlighted the weak attitude of government and public agencies toward the banks, including weak restraints and lax supervision before 2008. Moreover, three of the four main political parties, as well as individual politicians, accepted large donations from the banks and affiliated interests. When the banks crashed, 10 out of the 63 members of parliament owed the banks the equivalent of more than€1 million each. Indeed, these personal debts ranged from €1 million to €40 million, with the average debt of the 10 MPs standing at €9 million. Two of the ten members of parliament in question are still in parliament and the cabinet without having divulged whether they have settled their debts or not. The SIC did not report on legislators that owed the banks lesser sums, e.g., €500,000. GRECO has repeatedly highlighted the need for Icelandic MPs to disclose all their debts beyond standard mortgage loans. In 2015, GRECO formally complained that Iceland had not responded to any of its recommendations in its 2013 report on Iceland.

In November 2011, parliament passed a law that obliges members of parliament to declare their financial interests, including salaries, means of financial support, assets, and jobs outside parliament. This information is publicly available on the parliament’s website.

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2014, which measures business corruption, Iceland scored 78 out of 100, where a score of 100 means absolutely no corruption. Although this score implies that Iceland is relatively free of corruption, it is still well behind the other Nordic countries, which score between 86 and 91. In an assessment of political corruption in 2012, Gallup reported that 67% of Icelandic respondents view corruption as being widespread in government compared with 14% to 15% in Sweden and Denmark.
Citations:
Erlingsson, Gissur Ó. (2014): CORRUPTION IN LOW CORRUPT COUNTRIES: THE CASE OF SWEDEN. Open lecture given at the University of Akureyri, Iceland 19th September 2014.

Special Investigation Committee (SIC) (2010),“Report of the Special Investigation Commission (SIC),” report delivered to parliament 12 April.

Rules on registration of parliamentarians financial interests. (Reglur um skráningu á fjárhagslegum hagsmunum alþingismanna og trúnaðarstörfum utan þings. Samþykkt í forsætisnefnd Alþingis 28 nóvember 2011.).

http://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results

Gallup (2013), Government Corruption Viewed as Pervasive Worldwide, http://www.gallup.com/poll/165476/government-corruption-viewed-pervasive-worldwide.aspx

Gylfason, Thorvaldur (2015), “Social Capital, Inequality, and Economic Crisis,” Challenge 58, No. 4, July, 326-342.
Japan
Corruption and bribery scandals have for decades frequently emerged in Japanese politics. These problems are deeply entrenched and are related to prevailing practices of representation and voter mobilization. Japanese politicians rely on local support networks to raise campaign funds and are expected to “deliver” to their constituencies and supporters in return. Scandals have involved politicians from most parties except for the few parties with genuine membership-based organizations (i.e., the Japanese Communist Party and the Komeito).

Financial or office-abuse scandals involving bureaucrats have, however, been quite rare in recent years. This may be a consequence of stricter accountability rules devised after a string of ethics-related scandals came to light in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

With respect to anti-bribery enforcement abroad, relevant for Japan´s multinational companies, the country in the past had a reputation for weak enforcement. However, the government has used the 2016 G-7 Summit and the London 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit to formulate a stiffer line, with the industry ministry (METI) also warning companies. Results still need to be evaluated.

Following the 3/11 disasters, the public debate on regulatory failures with respect to the planning and execution of nuclear power projects supported a widely held view that, at least at the regional level, collusive networks between authorities and companies still prevail and can involve corruption and bribery.
Citations:
Ananda Martin and Jianxiong Wu, Japanese Companies Face Growing Anti-Corruption Enforcement RiskThe FCPA Report, Vol. 5, No. 2, 27 January 2016, Download from http://www.fcpareport.com/archive
Malta
A number of institutions and processes work to prevent corruption and guarantee the integrity of government officials, including the Permanent Commission Against Corruption, the National Audit Office, the Ombudsman Office and the Public Service Commission. The government also abides by a separate Code of Ethics, set out for ministers, members of parliament and public servants. Ministers and members of parliament are also expected to make an annual asset declaration. The Public Accounts Committee of the unicameral House of Representatives can also investigate public expenditure decisions to ensure that money spent or contracts awarded are transparent and conducted according to law and general financial regulations.

Until recently, with the exception of the National Audit Office and the Ombudsman Office, these mechanisms provided insufficient guarantees against corruption. The Permanent Commission Against Corruption remains ineffective and, despite declarations to this effect, unreformed. The 2015 report of the audit office also highlighted regulatory abuse regarding procurement, inventory inadequacies, and non-compliance with tender requirements and ministries’ fiscal obligations. Both the National Audit Office and the Ombudsman Office are independent, but neither enjoys the necessary executive powers to follow up on their investigations. The Public Service Commission has consistently lacked sufficient resources for it to work effectively.

In 2013, the government strengthened the fight against corruption by reducing elected political figures’ ability to evade corruption charges, and introduced a more effective Whistleblower Act. Nonetheless, conflicts of interest remain prevalent. These are a result of the face-to-face relationships common in micro-states and the fact that Malta’s members of parliament work part-time and have private interests.
Citations:
Transparency International: The 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index CPI.Transparency.org/
Audit office finds lack of adherence to procurement regulations by the office of the prime minister Times of Malta 14/12 2015
Audit office flags unauthorised payments by science council Times of Malta 14/12/2015
No independent testing of concrete at child development center in Gozo Times of Malta 14/12/2015
Audit office calls for better verification of applications for social assistance Times of Malta 14/12/2015
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160503/local/minister-to-keep-pressure-on-mfsa-independent-regulator.610814
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160928/local/government-statement-pm-has-no-clue-if-chief-of-staff-will-benefit.626373
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160510/local/zammit-dimech-cachia-caruana-deny-panama-papers-links.611633
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20151129/local/minister-tells-his-business-partners-to-obey-the-law.593836
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160407/local/konrad-mizzi-to-address-labour-conference-as-pressure-over-panama.608123
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20161008/local/does-keith-schembris-opm-contract-contain-conflict-of-interest-rules.627308

Canvasser made delivery of 9 million euros in checks Sunday Times of Malta 11/12/16
Transparency International Corruption perception index 2015
Romania
Corruption has been a major political issue in Romania for some time. After all, the Ciolos government came to office after Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned in the midst of corruption scandals. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), led by Laura Codruta Kövesi (reelected in 2016), continued its much acclaimed anti-corruption fight. By mid-2016, the DNA had achieved nearly 500 convictions, of which 170 were final convictions of party leaders, lawmakers, businessmen, magistrates and generals. High-profile corruption cases investigated by DNA in 2016 involved former Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea, Senator Dan Sova, Senator and former Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean, businessman Remus Truica and the former owners of the Colectiv club, where the deadly nightclub fire occurred, killing 64 people and leading to mass anti-corruption protests in 2015. However, parliament has continued to deny many requests to lift immunity. The Constitutional Court, in a ruling in February 2016, reduced the possibilities of the DNA to cooperate with the Romanian Secret Service (SRI). The fight against corruption suffered a further setback when the Constitutional Court decriminalized malfeasance in office in June 2016. This decision was criticized by the DNA as a way to help roughly 800 indicted politicians and civil servants with their legal problems, while the Constitutional Court defended the decision as a much needed clarification of the Criminal Code. In 2016, the conservative-national PNL remained the only party to demand strict integrity criteria for its candidates.

In August 2016, public consultations on the 2016-2020 National Anticorruption Strategy began. Informed by inputs from 90 public organizations, NGOs, business associations, state companies and private firms, it emphasized the shared responsibility of the state and citizens to address anti-corruption, provided a framework for handling plagiarism and singled out education and health care as key areas for the future fight against corruption.
Citations:
European Commission (2017): Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Progress in Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. COM(2017) 44, Brussels (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/com-2017-44_en_1.pdf).
Slovakia
The second Fico government was shaken by several corruption scandals and has not paid much attention to anti-corruption efforts. Few attempts to strengthen integrity mechanisms have been undertaken by the Fico government, and influential politicians and business persons have not been convicted and sentenced thus far. The government manifesto of the third Fico government contained some anti-corruption measures, and the new minister of justice, Lucia Žitňanská, representing one of Smer-SD’s coalition partners, has paid more attention than her predecessors to the fight against corruption. In September 2016, however, the coalition joined ranks in a no-confidence vote against Minister of Interior Robert Kaliňák and Prime Minister Fico that was fueled by the parliamentary opposition with their links to Ladislav Basternak, a fraudulent business man.
Citations:
Slovak Spectator (2016): PM Fico, Minister Kaliňák survive no-confidence vote, September 26 (http://spectator.sme.sk/c/20286161/pm-fico-minister-kalinak-survive-no-confidence-vote.html).
South Korea
Corruption remains a major problem in South Korea and government attempts to curb the problem are seen as mostly ineffective by the population. Recent major corruption scandals have involved the Defense Acquisition Program as well as two major investment projects mounted by the previous Lee administration – the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, and the administration’s resources-diplomacy program.

The year 2016 saw several major institutional improvements with regard to fighting corruption. In the aftermath of the April 2014 Sewol ferry disaster, in which collusion between public officials and private enterprises played a role, the National Assembly began drafting new legislation that would impose severe penalties for former government officials who took advantage of their public-sector networks for private gain through lobbying or other similar activities. This was passed in March 2015 as the Kim Young-ran Act, and came into effect in September 2016. Among other provisions, it bars public servants, journalists and teachers from accepting a meal worth more than KRW 30,000 (about €24) if there is a potential conflict of interest. In addition to the restrictions on meals, the law bars people in the targeted professions and their spouses — estimated to be 4 million people out of a total national population of 51 million — from accepting any gift worth more than KRW 50,000 if a conflict of interest could exist. Unfortunately lawmakers and politicians were excluded from the law’s provisions.

Despite these institutional improvements, a major corruption scandal undermined the Park administration during the review period, after it emerged that President Park’s longtime friend Choi Soon-sil had not simply wielded influence within the administration, but had also used her connection to the president to strong-arm companies into donating to two foundations (Mir and K-Sports). She was also accused of embezzling foundation money to buy a hotel in Germany, and of using her influence to get her daughter into a prestigious university in Seoul.
Citations:
The Economist 2 February 2013, Pardon Me, http://www.economist.com/news/asia/ 21571192-departing-president-proves -extravagantly-forgiving-pardon-me
Act on Anti-Corruption and the Foundation of the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission, 2008, http://www.acrc.go.kr/eng_index.htm l
Transparency International 2013, Country Page Korea, http://www.transparency.org/country #KOR
“Ferry Tragedy: A Righteous and Overdue Rage Over Corruption,” The Diplomat, May 28, 2014
“Antigraft Law Stirs Up Wariness Over South Koreans Bearing Gifts,” New York Times, September 29, 2016.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/world/asia/south-korea-bribery-law.html?_r=0
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Bulgaria
As successive European Commission reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism have shown, Bulgaria’s formal legal anti-corruption framework is quite extensive, but has not proven very effective. Despite some improvement in the standard corruption perception indices in the past three years, corruption has remained a serious problem. While the executive and state prosecutors have initiated numerous criminal prosecutions against high-profile political actors, the conviction rate in those high-profile cases has been very small. In 2015, an attempt to pass a comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy and to create a unified anti-corruption agency with powers to conduct administrative inquiries, check conflicts of interest and inventory high-level officials’ assets eventually failed in the National Assembly when two junior coalition partners, the ABV and the Patriotic Front joined the parliamentary opposition. Until the end of 2016, parliament effectively delayed further discussion.
Citations:
Avdjiiski, L. (2016): Why Does the Fight Against Corruption in Bulgaria not Give Results. Institute for Market Economics, Sofia (http://ime.bg/en/articles/why-does-the-fight-against-corruption-in-bulgaria-not-give-results/).

European Commission (2017): Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. COM(2017) 43, Brussels (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/com-2017-43_en.pdf).
Cyprus
The Auditor General’s office is constitutionally independent and assigned to audit state accounts and legal compliance. Adequate responses to the office’s observations have been rare. However, numerous prosecutions for notable cases of corruption have occurred since 2014. The privacy constitutional clause (Art. 15) was amended (2016) to serve transparency and fight corruption. A new national anti-corruption strategy is currently being designed.

A Transparency Cyprus survey showed 81% of the public considers corruption to be present at both the local and national levels, with 83% deem it a serious problem. The numerous relevant recommendations by GRECO are indicative of the problem.

Pressures for more transparency by civil society organizations and media, appear to have no decisive effect yet. Anti-corruption measures, ensuring transparency, and preventing favoritism and bribery appear generally either inadequate or lacking proper oversight and implementation mechanisms; cases of either deficient or partially implemented measures also exist. For example, no report is available on the implementation of a public service code of conduct (2013).
Citations:
1. Corruption levels ‘more than expected’, says Auditor General, Cyprus Mail, 16.08.2016, http://cyprus-mail.com/2016/08/16/corruption-levels-expected-says-auditor-general
2. Survey on corruption by Transparency Cyprus, 2014-5, in Greek, http://transparencycyprus.org/προγραμματα/έρευνα/ερευνα-για-τη-διαφθορά-2015
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Hungary
Widespread corruption has been a systemic feature of the Orbán governments, with benefits and influence growing through Fidesz’s informal political-business networks. Members of the Fidesz elite have been involved in a number of corruption scandals, with many people accumulating substantial wealth in a short period of time. Corruption has become so pervasive that even some senior Fidesz figures have begun openly criticizing the Fidesz elite’s rapid wealth accumulation. Corruption in Hungary has to be seen through the prism of oligarchic structures and is strongly linked to public procurement, often related to investments based on EU funds and facilitated by the new public procurement law of 2012. After the conflict with Lajos Simicska, the previous “Czar” of business and media, Orbán has made a radical rearrangement in the camp of the Fidesz-linked oligarchs by pushing out all Simicska-related businessmen from public procurement and promoting new oligarchs, most notably Lőrinc Mészáros, István Garancsi and István Tiborcz (the son in law of Orbán). Thus, a system of government-regulated corruption has been built.
Citations:
Tóth, I. J., M. Hajdu 2016): Korrupciós kockázatok, átláthatóság, közbeszerzések. Magyar közbeszerzések 2009–2015 közötti adatainak elemzése, in: T. Kolosi, I.G. Tóth, István György (eds.): Társadalmi riport 2016. Budapest: Tárki, 33-53.
Mexico
Despite many attempts to deal with the issue, there are severe and persistent corruption problems in Mexico. In the years after the Revolution, social peace was bought largely through a series of semi-official payoffs. This carried through to the 1970s and beyond. Bribery remains widespread in Mexico, and although official data indicates that the level of corruption has decreased, the cost of bribery has remained high. A case in point was a prominent politician, Carlos Hank Gonzalez, who famously stated, “a politician who is poor is a poor politician.” The culture has changed somewhat in that those who enrich themselves from public office are, at least officially, no longer admired.

But there are regions of Mexico where the culture of corruption persists, though efforts have been made to combat the problem. Measures have included increasing the professionalism of the civil service and considerably strengthening the legal framework. Such efforts had some positive effect, but at the price of creating new problems, such as introducing paralyzing bureaucratic procedures. Another problem is that federal and state definitions of illegal and corrupt practices are often contradictory or inconsistent, the latter being more lax. Particularly troubling is that the worst victims of corruption are the poor, who, unlike the wealthy, lack the resources to pay off corrupt officials. In addition, it should be noted that drug cartels systematically influence local and regional politics through corrupt practices.

However, 2016 also saw a major step forward in the fight against corruption as President Peña Nieto signed into law Mexico’s new National Anti-Corruption System. The extent to which this new system is effective at fighting corruption remains to be seen.
Turkey
Law 5018 regarding public financial management and oversight also touches on issues of legality, transparency and predictability. However, these concepts, as well as instruments such as the formation of strategic plans, performance budgets and regulatory impact assessments, are not effectively incorporated into government oversight processes. An amendment to the law on audit court has limited the degree to which state expenditures can be audited. Public-procurement safeguards have deteriorated thanks to legislation allowing municipalities to operate in a less than transparent fashion. There are no codes of conduct guiding members of the legislature or judiciary in their actions. Conflicts of interest are not broadly deemed a concern, and there is no effective asset-declaration system in place for elected and appointed public officials.

The Council of Ethics for Public Officials lacks the power to enforce its decisions through disciplinary measures. Codes of ethics do not exist for military personnel or academics. Legal loopholes (regarding disclosure of gifts, financial interests and holdings, foreign travel paid for by outside sources, etc.) in the code of ethics for parliamentarians remain in place. In 2014, a total of 3,664 public civil servants across 48 institutions were provided with ethics training, and 130 of them were themselves assigned to serve as ethics trainers. Moreover, two separate modules dealing with the issue were placed online for further training purposes.

In general, corruption remains widespread, and unfair and biased treatment by the bureaucracy is common. Especially at the local level, corruption remains a systemic problem. While municipalities controlled by opposition parties are closely monitored by law-enforcement authorities and government inspectors, municipalities controlled by the AKP are shielded from close scrutiny. The Court of Audit reported a number of municipalities to the Ministry of Finance in 2014 on the basis of illegitimate practices. Recent reports by the Audit Court have not been addressed by parliament. However, the reports have been published in the media and online, thus publicly exposing a number of irregularities including hidden budget expenditures, housing-procurement abuses and tax compromises.

A 2014 omnibus law amended various aspects of Turkish public-procurement legislation, introducing restrictive measures that make the previously optional domestic price advantage of up to 15% compulsory for “medium and high-technology industrial products.” The law authorizes the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology to determine the list of items for which a domestic price advantage will be compulsory; this gives considerable discretion to the administration.
Citations:
European Commission, Turkey 2016 Report, Brussels, 9.11.2016, http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2016/20161109_report_turkey.pd f (accessed 1 November 2016).
Turkey’s top judicial body suspends graft probe prosecutors: agency, 30 December 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/30/us-turkey-corruption-prosecutors-idUSKBN0K80WC20141230#MAC1r24rc4pB862h.97 (27 October 2015)
Daniel Donbay, Turkish parliament votes against graft trial for former ministers, Financial Times, 21 January 2015, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7f805574-a14a-11e4-8d19-00144feab7de.html#ixzz3rrWV7tpq (27 October 2015)
Çiğdem Toker, Sayıştay yeni soygunu belgeledi, Cumhuryet daily newspaper, 7 October 2015, http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/koseyazisi/382949/Sayistay_yeni_soygunu_belgeledi.html (27 October 2015)
İşte duman eden Sayıştay raporları, Taraf daily newspaper, 10 March 2014, http://www.taraf.com.tr/haber-iste-duman-eden-sayistay-raporlari-150242/ (accessed 5 November 2014).
Transparency International (2015) ‘Corruption Perception Index 2015’, https://www.transparency.org/cpi2015/#results-table. (1 November 2016)
 
Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
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