Rule of Law


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

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
Denmark is among the least corrupt countries in the world and ranks first (together with Finland and New Zealand) on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2021. Norms against corruption are strong and the risk of media exposure is high. In the past, there were occasional cases 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. A court case in 2017 led to the conviction of several employees of the IT vendor Atea A/S for bribery and embezzlement. The employees had offered electronic devices to government employees, some of whom were convicted for accepting these devices.
Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2021, (accessed 20 February 2022)
New Zealand
New Zealand’s public sector is perceived to be one of the least corrupt in the world. There is a very low risk of encountering corruption in the public service, police or the judicial system. Prevention of corruption is strongly safeguarded by such independent institutions as the auditor general and the Office of the Ombudsman. The 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International even ranked New Zealand at first place (together with Denmark) in terms of anti-corruption efforts (Transparency International 2020). However, this does not mean that the country is free of corruption. For example, the 2020 Deloitte Bribery and Corruption Survey found that a considerable number of company executives found corruption to be “significant risk” to their organizations (Deloitte 2020). There are also concerns about “revolving door” practices, whereby individuals shift between government positions and private sector jobs, and vice versa (Kuhner 2020).
Deloitte (2020) The Deloitte Australia and New Zealand Bribery and Corruption Report 2020.

Kuhner (2020) “Reputation vs reality: how vulnerable is New Zealand to systemic corruption?” The Spinoff.

Transparency International (2020) Corruption Perceptions Index.
Abuses of power and corruption have been the subject of considerable governmental and public concern. On the one hand, Estonia has established a solid institutional and legal structure to prevent corruption, with the National Audit Office, the parliamentary Select Committee on the Application of Anti-Corruption Act, the Supervision Committee and the Anti-Corruption Act. 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 efficient anti-corruption policy. However, they also indicate that loopholes remain in the public-procurement process and in party-financing regulations, for example.

As a further step in fighting corruption and abuses of power, all legal persons have been required to make public their beneficial owners through the business register from 1 September 2018. Yet, lobbying remains unregulated, despite the Group of States against Corruption’s (GRECO) recommendations. Political party financing is regulated by the Act of Political Parties and monitored by a special body, the Political Parties’ Financing Surveillance Committee.

The number of registered corruption offenses decreased substantially in 2019–2021, with the largest decline being in healthcare sector. Most corruption offenses relate to bribery and abuses of power in public procurement. The number of municipal-level corruption cases has decreased, with most cases (49%) occurring in the governmental sector.
The factor of concern is that during the first coronavirus wave, government support for enterprises was channeled through the government-controlled foundations KredEx and MES without transparent rules. Eventually, some criminal cases were opened (a Porto Franco loan from Kredex and a case against the management board of MES) regarding non-purpose loans/grants they have delivered.
Ministry of Justice 2021. Kuritegevus Eestis 2020. (accessed 03.01.2022)
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. Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Finland at third place out of 180 countries. The country was also ranked third in 2017 and 2016. Several individual mechanisms contribute to the Finnish success, 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 charges of political corruption involving bribery and campaign financing have been brought to light and have attracted media attention.
Hung-En Sung, “Democracy and Political Corruption: A Cross-National Comparison,” Crime, Law & Social Change, Vol. 41, 2004, 179-194.
Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2018,”
There are few very few instances of corruption in Norway. The cases that have surfaced in recent years have been at the municipal level and are related to public procurement. As a rule, corrupt officeholders are prosecuted under established laws. There is a great social stigma against corruption, even in its minor manifestations. During the last decade, some incidences of corruption related to investments and overseas Norwegian business activities have been revealed.
Sweden has one of the lowest levels of corruption in the world. In 2020, the country ranked third in the world with a score of 85/100 (Transparency International, 2021) with regard to the citizens’ perceptions of corruption (with high scores indicating less corruption). Thus, levels of public trust in democratic institutions and public administration are comparatively high, though there are signs that political trust may be on the decline even in Sweden (see Zahariadis et al., 2021). Indeed, this is a corollary of transparency, freedom of information and access to information as part of an open government enshrined in the constitution (see Greve, Lægreid, and Rykkja (2016) for a discussion of the Nordic administrative tradition).

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 reports of corruption and court decisions on related charges (Bergh et al., 2016). Additionally, the public sector has been slow to produce material requested by the Coronavirus Commission assessing the country’s response to the pandemic. Though Sweden is at the top of the rankings, the score (85/100) has remained the same rather than improving (Transparency International Sweden, 2021). The issue here is that the world expects more out of Sweden, which has traditionally been a leading country in preventing corruption in the public sector.
Bergh, Andreas, Gissur Ó. Erlingsson, Richard Öhrvall, Mats Sjölin. 2016. “A Clean House? Studies of Corruption in Sweden.” Lund: Nordic Academic Press.

Greve, Carsten, Per Lægreid, and Lise H. Rykkja. (eds.) 2016. “Nordic Administrative Reforms: Public Sector Organizations, Public Sector Organizations.” London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Transparency International. 2021. “Corruption Perceptions Index.”

Transparency International Sweden. 2021. “CPI2021: Arbetet mot Korruption Stagnerar när det Behövs som Mest.”

Zahariadis, Nikolaos, Evangelia Petridou, Theofanis Exadaktylos, and Jörgen Sparf. 2021. “Policy Styles and Political Trust in Europe’s National Responses to the Covid-19 Crisis.” Policy Studies: 1-22.
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 have pointed to processes in which politicians’ economic interests may influence their decisions in parliament.

There are recurrent scandals about corruption. However, the level of corruption seems to be very low in Switzerland as compared to other countries. The problems listed above are clearly minor in international comparison.
Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
Corruption has become a major topic of public debate 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. As a consequence, a special branch of the public prosecutor’s office dealing especially with corruption (Korruptionsstaatsanwaltschaft) has been established in 2009. This office marked a significant improvement on the previous 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 Korruptionsstaatsanwaltschaft, have yielded positive results.

The Federal Audit Office is another widely respected agency, whose careful ex post inquiries in government activities (including state spending and regulation of party financing) have helped to establish tangible anticipatory effects in fighting corruption. More specifically, the anti-corruption regime established by the government is subject to constant evaluation by the Federal Audit Office.
While outright corruption is very uncommon in Belgium, several scandals involving abuse of public-office positions came to the fore. In most of these cases, the public officials involved actually did respect the letter of the law and thus could not be convicted by tribunals. But the scandals were so prominent in the press and shocking for the population that political parties expelled the individuals involved, and when possible, also removed them from the positions they were holding. This was also followed by a number of announcements by prominent long-time politicians that they were about to end their political careers.

The most recent case concerns a large public-private company in Wallonia. The company’s board of managers was tasked with divesting and privatizing a number of assets, but eventually had to be sacked for alleged abuse (with some lawsuits under way). This case follows a number of others, and may prove a turning point toward a stricter implementation of anti-corruption and abuse of public-office legislation in Belgium.

In the public sphere, rules are increasingly being tightened. Yet, according to Cumuleo, an activist group seeking to improve the regulation and oversight of public offices, Belgium still occasionally suffers from deep malpractice in reporting public decisions and a lack of actual control from the authorities that are expected to oversee these decisions.
WEF: Schwab, Klaus (ed) (2019). The Global Competitiveness Report 2019. World Economic Forum.
Canada has historically ranked very high for the extent to which public officeholders are prevented from abusing their position for private interests. There is an Auditor General to audit government spending. There is also a Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to help prevent conflict between public duties and private interests. There is a strong investigative media. Generally, societal tolerance for corruption is really low. Nevertheless, a significant scandal emerged in 2019, when it came to light that Justin Trudeau had used his powers as prime minister to influence the actions of the attorney general to prevent the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin for bribing the son of former Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Qadhafi. The scandal also illuminated what many regard as a flaw in the governance structure of Canada’s justice system. The roles of the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada are held by the same person. When Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould resisted government pressures, the prime minister moved her to a different cabinet position, terminating her role as attorney general in the process. Wilson-Raybould later resigned, and was ousted from the Liberal caucus. A special adviser subsequently produced a report endorsing the current structure, stating that “no further structural change is required in Canada to protect prosecutorial independence and promote public confidence in the criminal justice system” (McLellan, 2019, 1).
Honourable A. Anne McLellan, P.C., O.C., A.O.E, Review of the Roles of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada,
June 28, 2019, posted at
Despite some corruption scandals – the recent ones involving the procurement of masks during the pandemic – Germany performs better than most of its peers in controlling corruption, outperforming countries such as France, Japan and the United States. But it does not perform as well as the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Singapore and New Zealand.

Nonetheless, there are a number of issues that have been raised by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). The recent GRECO compliance report (GRECO 2021) concludes that Germany has satisfactorily implemented or dealt in a satisfactory manner with only three of GRECO’s eight recommendations and therefore the current level of compliance remains “globally unsatisfactory.” Since the publication of this compliance report, further progress has been achieved with the enactment of the Lobbying Register Act in March 2021, which requires representatives of special interests to register as such. Deficiencies cited include the lack of ad hoc disclosure rules designed to prevent conflicts of interest with regard to members of parliament acting on issues under parliamentary consideration. In terms of ensuring the transparency of federal judges’ secondary activities, Germany is also not in compliance with GRECO recommendations.
GRECO (2021): Council of Europe, Group of States against Corruption, Fourth Evaluation Round, Corruption Prevention in Respect of Members of Parliament, Judges and Prosecutors, Adopted 25 March 2021.
The legal framework and rules regarding standards in public office have been progressively tightened and extended over time in Ireland.

In January 2014, the 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.” This was followed up by the Our Public Service 2020 plan, which contains 18 actions, including new initiatives and actions focused on building on reforms already in place, such as the need to accelerate the digital delivery of services (DPER, 2020).

On 6 September 2017, Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan published a report showing that out of the 3,498,400 breath tests recorded on the Garda’s Pulse computer system only 2,040,179 were actually recorded using alcohol testing devices. This left a discrepancy of 1,458,221 fictive breath tests. Three causes for this glaring deficiency were presented: systems failures, difficulties in understanding Garda policy, and oversight and governance failures. It is highly regrettable that the Department of Justice and Garda authorities have not seen it appropriate to prosecute any member of the Garda force because of the massive over-reporting of alcohol breathalyzer tests.

On 11 October 2018, Justice Peter Charleton published the third interim report of the Disclosures Tribunal (Tribunal of Inquiry into protected disclosures made under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and certain other matters following resolutions). In the report, Judge Charleton vindicated the behavior of Sergeant Gerry McCabe, a Garda whistleblower, who had been treated appallingly (including having had allegations of child sexual abuse made against him) by certain sectors of the police force. The report also vindicated Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, but was highly critical of the behavior of former Commissioner Martin Callinan, who resigned in 2014, and former Garda press officer Superintendent David Taylor, who retired early in 2018.

The saga of the two Garda whistleblowers, Gerry McCabe and John Wilson, showed a deep antagonism in the upper echelons of the police force toward disclosures (whistleblowing) by junior members of the force. More disturbingly, it showed that some police superiors were prepared to blacken the name of whistleblowers by making untruthful allegations about them to government ministers, politicians and members of the press.

In 2021, Ireland ranked 13th in the world (out of 180 countries) in the Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International.
Transparency International (2021) Ireland, Corruption Perception Index,

The 2014 Public Services Reform Plan is available here:
Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Third Interim Report of the Disclosures Tribunal, October 11, 2018
In the 2020 Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International, Luxembourg was ranked ninth among 180 countries, with a score of 80 out of a possible 100. New Zealand and Denmark (both 88 out of 100) came in at first place, while Finland, Switzerland, Singapore and Sweden (85/100) share second place. Belgium ranked 15th and France 23rd.

In general, corruption is not tolerated in Luxembourg. However, because small gifts may be accepted in some parts of the public administration, a code of conduct for all public servants seems to be necessary. Informal conversations between individual political parties, related officials and representatives of certain economic sectors (e.g., finance and construction) are common.

Political party financing is regulated by law. The names of donors are published. Donations to political parties in Luxembourg are rather uncommon. However, public officials such as ministers often donate a part of their salaries to their parties.

In December 2021, the Chamber of Deputies created for its members a mandatory transparency register. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) had pointed out the absence of such a transparency register. Thus, members of parliament are obliged to reveal which interest group representatives they meet. The register is expected to give citizens an overview as well as an indication of where each member of parliament gets their policy proposals from.
“Abgeordnete verabschieden Transparenzregister.” (10 December 2021). Accessed 8 February 2022.

“Corruption Perceptions Index: 2020.” Transparency International (February 2021). Accessed 14 January 2022.

“Luxembourg Corruption Report.” Risk&Compliance Portal (June 2020). Accessed 14 January 2022.

GRECO, “Fourth evaluation round. Corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. Second compliance report. Luxembourg.” Accessed 8 February 2022.
Prevention of corruption 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. In the 2019 election campaign, the Morrison government pledged to introduce a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, a centralized, specialist center for investigating corruption in the public sector, but has so far failed to do so. There are also concerns that the body currently being contemplated by the government will not have sufficient powers to adequately counter corruption.

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 – most recently occurring after the May 2019 election.

Australia has been reluctant to address cross-border corruption. A notable exception is the recent action of Australian federal police, which in October 2014 seized 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. However, this code has no legal standing, and is therefore unenforceable.
Up to the 1990s, corruption plagued French politics. 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. Judicial investigations revealed extraordinary scandals, which resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of industrial and political leaders. These cases were a key factor for the growing awareness of the prevalence of corruption in France, leading to substantive action to establish stricter rules, both over party financing and transparency in public purchases and concessions.

However, there were still too many opportunities and loopholes available to cheat, bypass or evade these rules. Various scandals have provoked further legislation. After a former minister of finance was accused of tax fraud and money laundering in March 2013, a new rule obliged government ministers to make their personal finances public. Similarly, parliamentarians are also obliged to submit their personal finances to an ad hoc independent authority, but their declarations are not made public, and the media are forbidden to publish them. Only individual citizens can consult these disclosures, and only within the constituency in which the member of parliament was elected. The legal anti-corruption framework was strengthened again by the Sapin law adopted at the end of 2016, which complements existing legislation on various fronts (conflict of interests, protection of whistleblowers).

Immediately after the 2017 elections, President Macron decided, as a symbol, to introduce a bill dealing with the “moralization of public affairs.” The new law contains many additional restrictions, such as a prohibition on parliamentarians employing members of their family, and the elimination of the so-called loose money that members of parliament had previously been able to distribute and use without constraint or control. The new legislation constitutes a major contribution with regard to reducing conflicts of interest, and may help to eradicate corrupt practices. As a consequence of the new rules, as well as the activism of the press on these issues, the appointment of ministers is kept secret for a few days before being officially announced. This allows the independent authority time to check and clear the legal, fiscal and financial backgrounds of potential nominees.

This persistent strengthening of the rules has been justified by recurrent corruption scandals relating to the funding of political campaigns by African states, the irregularities in the accounts of Sarkozy’s 2012 electoral campaign, and the misuse of funds provided by the European Parliament discovered in 2017, to cite a few examples. On 1 October 2019, the country’s highest court (Cour de Cassation) confirmed that former President Sarkozy should be prosecuted before a penal court (Tribunal correctionnel). The first-instance court handed down a guilty verdict in 2021, but Sarkozy has appealed this judgment.
Latvia’s main integrity mechanism is the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (Korupcijas novēršanas un apkarošanas birojs, KNAB), which the Group of States Against Corruption has recognized as an effective institution. The Conflict of Interest Law is the principal legislation regarding officeholder integrity.

In recent years, KNAB has experienced several controversial leadership changes and has been plagued by a persistent state of internal management disarray. Internal conflicts have spilled into the public sphere. For example, the previous KNAB director and deputy director were embroiled in a series of court cases over disciplinary measures in 2015 and 2016. These court cases ended with the director dismissing two deputy directors in the summer of 2016, both of whom then appealed their dismissal. These scandals have weakened public trust in the institution. A new, well-qualified and seemingly independent director, was appointed in 2017.

In 2018, a Whistleblowing Law was introduced that allows whistleblowers to expose offenses against the public interest. In the first year of the law’s operation, 119 out of 435 reports received were confirmed as whistleblowing cases. Tax evasion, violations by officials and waste of property were among the most common themes covered by the reports.

While Latvia does not currently have a lobbying law or regulation, the Open Lobbying working group in the Saeima’s Committee of Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention is working on a new legislative proposal that is expected to be presented to the Saeima in 2022.

Overall, the Latvian government has successfully made an effort to fight corruption and money laundering in recent years, particularly following the U.S. FinCen report (which led to the liquidation of ABLV bank) and the Council of Europe’s 2018 MONEYVAL report.

Nevertheless, the Freedom House report of 2021 allocated Latvia just 4.5 out of seven points in their corruption evaluation, claiming that corruption has remained among the weakest spots in Latvian democracy. The report notes that corruption scandals on the national and municipal levels had remained a common topic covered by the national news, signaling that corruption remains one of the most topical concerns. Trials associated with corruption have typically been long, often stretching on for years, and have in a number of cases resulted in mild monetary penalties or even acquittals rather than imprisonment. However, high-profile cases are investigated and reported in the mass media, which indicates that corruption as such is recognized as problematic. For example, in 2018, the governor of the Latvian central bank was charged with bribery and money laundering. His trial started in early November 2019. He has not stepped down from his position, although his six-year tenure ended on 21 December 2019. More recent cases include the investigation of a former justice minister, Baiba Broka, and a former mayor of Riga, Nils Usakovs.

More recently, the trial of oligarch Aivars Lembergs reached the final stage in the court of first instance in 2020. In March, the prosecution concluded its yearlong (80 sittings) discussions, requesting that Lembergs be charged a fine of €64,500 and serve an eight-year prison sentence. Lembergs was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison, the confiscation of property and a fine of €20,000.

In June 2020, a new Criminal Law was passed, which may help to solve the issue of extremely long trial processes, such as the one involving Lembergs. For example, the new amendments to the law stipulate that the accused is required to speak the truth, with failure to do so being regarded as aggravating circumstances. The judge is now able to limit the time available for debate and the closing arguments of the defense (a strategy notoriously used by Lembergs’ defense). The law also prescribes greater transparency in trial processes by giving reporters greater freedom in criminal courts (at judges’ discretion).
1. Corruption °C (2017), Updated Statistics on Convictions for Corruption Offences (2016 Data Added), Available at:, Last accessed: 15.01.2022.

2. Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO)(2012), Fifth Evaluation Round, Preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies, Evaluation Report, Available at:, Last accessed: 15.01.2022.

3. State Chancellery (2019) Whistleblowing and Protection of Whistleblowers: Annual Report, Available (in Latvian) at:, Last accessed: 15.01.2022.

4. Freedom House (2021), Nations in Transit, Country Report, Available at:, Last accessed: 15.01.2022.

5. Saeima (2022) Information (in Latvian) on Open Lobbying working group’s activities and meeting agendas, Available (in Latvian) here:, Last accessed: 15.01.2022.

6. Amendments to the Criminal Law (2020) Available (in Latvian):, Last accessed: 15.01.2022.

7. Euronews (2021) Aivars Lembergs: One of Latvia’s richest men is jailed for bribery and money laundering, Available at:, Last accessed: 15.01.2022.
Under Portuguese law, abuse of position is 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 weakest links of the country’s integrity system.

While efforts have been made at the state level to tackle corruption – and it is an oft-discussed topic – there remains considerable room for improvement in terms of the implementation of anti-corruption plans.

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) interim compliance report published in April 2021 found that Portugal had satisfactorily implemented only three of the 15 recommendations published in 2016 (an improvement of two relative to 2019), with seven partially implemented (eight in 2019). The remaining five had not been implemented (six in 2019). The report assesses this as “only minor progress.”

In April 2021, the government approved a National Anticorruption Strategy for 2020-2024. This was revised in parliament during negotiations between the PS and the PSD, and was unanimously approved in parliament in November 2021. It is as yet too early to assess any results, but the government’s strategy was not warmly received by the Portuguese branch of Transparency International, which called it “clearly insufficient.”
Diário da República n.º 66/2021, Série I de 2021-04-06, páginas 8 – 49, Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.º 37/2021, available online at:

GRECO (2021), “Fourth Evaluation Round – Second Interim Compliance Report Portugal,” available online at:

RTP (2021), “Pacote anticorrupção aprovado por unanimidade no Parlamento,” available online at:

Transparência e Integridade (2021), “Transparência e Integridade quer corrupção política e lavagem de dinheiro no centro da estratégia anti-corrupção,” available online at:
South Korea
The Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption, established under the Anti-Corruption Act, handles whistleblowers’ reports, recommends policies and legislation for combating corruption, and examines the integrity of public institutions. The Public Service Ethics Act is designed to prevent high-ranking public officials from reaping financial gains related to their duties both during and after their time of public employment. Existing laws and regulations on the issue are generally effective in holding politicians and public servants accountable and in penalizing wrongdoing. Courts have also been tough on those involved in corruption scandals, handing down prison sentences to many involved, including ex-President Park and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak. That said, there are ways around these regulations. For example, after obtaining special permission from public service ethics committees, it is not uncommon for retired bureaucrats to receive golden-parachute appointments in the same industries they were charged with regulating.

President Moon promised to strengthen anti-corruption initiatives further, announcing that members of the elite involved in corruption scandals would not be granted pardons. While the 2019 scandal surrounding former Justice Minister Cho Kuk showed that the Moon government was not above abuse-of-office accusations, the case also showed that checks and balances have improved, as there appears to be increasing readiness to investigate serving high-level officials. In the past, public officials were usually investigated and prosecuted only after they left office, as prosecutors have considerable discretion with regard to deciding who to prosecute. During the Moon administration, in addition to the investigation into Minister Cho, there were various high-profile investigations of ruling party members, including the 2019 conviction of the South Chungcheong Province governor for sexual assault, and the April 2020 resignation of the mayor of Busan after admitting to sexual harassment. Throughout his tenure, President Moon took steps to “separate powerful institutions from domestic politics and install systems to make any such institutions unable to wield omnipotent power.” One such reform was the launch in 2021 of the new Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO). This institutional reform shifts the power to investigate and prosecute corruption among high-level officials from the prosecutor’s office to a new agency. The intent is for the new agency to be less opportunistic and more independent from political meddling.

Despite the strong campaign against corruption in the public sector, there has been minimal success in curbing corruption and influence peddling by big business groups. One serious concern is the massive degree to which economic power is concentrated, and the lack of respect that some economic elites show for the law. Courts are much more lenient toward businessmen than toward public officials. In February 2018, an appellate court reduced the five-year prison sentence handed down to Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong to a suspended sentence of two-and-a-half years. This was seen as extremely lenient when compared to the long jail sentences given to former public officials. In January 2021, following a retrial, Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to an additional two-and-a-half years. He was released on parole in August 2021. Relatedly, many were surprised by President Moon’s decision to pardon former President Park Guen-hye in December 2021.
Anti-Corruption Civil & Civil Rights Commision. 2020 Annual Report, July 2, 2021.
Choi, Kyoun-jun, and Jonson N Porteux. “Leviathan for Sale: Maritime Police Privatization, Bureaucratic Corruption, and the Sewol Disaster.” Journal of East Asian Studies 21, no. 1, January 1, 1970.
The Economist. “A Presidential Pardon Catches South Korea by Surprise,” January 1, 2022.
Pak, Bo-ram. “(Lead) Assembly Passes Revised Spy Agency Law after Eliminating Opposition Filibuster.” Yonhap News Agency, December 13, 2020.
“South Korea’s Anti-Corruption Campaign so Far: An Honest Crusade or Is It ‘Naeronambul’?” Ropes & Gray, August 27, 2021.
Yu, Jae-yun. “Prosecution Challenges Structural Reform Plan by Justice Ministry.” Yonhap News Agency, June 8, 2021.
Corruption levels have declined in Spain since the real-estate bubble burst in the wake of the economic crisis, and also as a consequence of the criminal, political and social prosecution of corrupt officials. Spanish courts have a solid record of investigating and prosecuting corruption cases, but the system is often overburdened, and cases move slowly. In 2020, Spain’s score in Transparency International’s CPI fell slightly, although Spain continues to rank comparatively highly, at 32nd place out of 180 countries (2019: 30 out of 180 countries).

The second GRECO compliance report for the country states that the organization considers four of the 11 recommendations made to Spain in 2013 to be fulfilled. Two others were considered to have already been fulfilled in 2019.

In October 2020 a Code of Conduct for Parliament (i.e., for both chambers, the Congress and Senate) was adopted. The code contains provisions on ethical principles, transparency and the prevention of conflicts of interest, and provides for sanctions if breaches occur. A new Office on Conflicts of Interest was created in the Congress of Deputies. There is also a legislative proposal underway that would regulate lobbying, including through the establishment of a lobbying register.

In 2021, the regulation of money laundering offenses was modified by Organic Law 6/2021 of 28 April. The reform aligned Spanish money laundering regulations with EU guidelines.
GRECO (2021), Fourth Evaluation Round – Second Compliance Report, 30 September 2021

Code of Conduct for Parliament
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 the 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 United Kingdom comes out with strong scores.

The members of parliament 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 the salaries of members of parliament. 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 member of parliaments’ expenses. Codes of practice, such as the Civil Service Code and the Ministerial Code, have been revised (the latter most recently in August 2019) and are publicly available.

During the coronavirus pandemic, things took a turn for the worse when a number of scandals over firms associated with Conservative members of parliament – which had been awarded highly profitable pandemic-related contracts – led to an inquiry by the National Audit Office (see section G13.1) in which existing government practices were criticized. In a separate case, in January 2022, the High Court ruled that the use of a “high priority lane” through which contracts were awarded to firms personally known to members of parliament and members of the government had been illegal. While unfortunate, the most plausible explanation for these actions is desperation on the part of the government to secure the necessary supplies, leading to a lack of due diligence, and not so much deliberate corruption

In November 2021, Conservative MP Owen Paterson stepped down after the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards had found him in breach of lobbying rules and described his actions as “paid advocacy,” something members of parliament are not allowed to do. In what became one of a number of criticisms of his style of government, Boris Johnson attempted to engineer a change the rules to enable Paterson to avoid what would have been a short suspension from Parliament, despite concerns from many of his own members of parliament. What proved to be a badly misjudged attempt to support Paterson met with widespread protest and Johnson had to abandon the plan. On 16 December, the Liberal Democrats won the byelection in Paterson’s vacated seat with a 34% swing in votes in what was widely seen as protest against government action in the Paterson case.
The U.S. federal government has long had elaborate and extensive mechanisms for auditing financial transactions, investigating potential abuses and prosecuting criminal misconduct. The FBI has an ongoing, major focus on official corruption. Auditing of federal spending programs occurs through congressional oversight as well as 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. Thanks to all of these controls, executive branch officials have been effectively deterred from using their authority for private gain and prosecutions for such offenses have been rare.

Trump demonstrated a lack of respect for laws, constitutional provisions and established practices in order to profit personally from the presidency. His hotels received millions of dollars in payments from foreign governments (in apparent violation of the Constitution’s “emolument’s clause”), American military personnel, and his own travel and security staff. In 2019, uncontroverted testimony emerged showing that Trump used the threat of withholding $400 million of military aid from Ukraine to coerce Ukraine to investigate then former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.

In this context, it is not surprising that fighting corruption became a major theme of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential run. Once in the White House, President Biden pushed for the adoption of new anti-corruption measures with an eye on national security. These efforts must be understood as part of a broader attempt to repair the reputational and policy damage caused by the Trump administration in that area. So far, much of the Ant-Corruption Strategy remains aspirational and requires legislative and regulatory action to be implemented.
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. No matter what their ideological position, political and economic elites overlap significantly, thus reinforcing privilege. However, this connection tended to be more evident in the Piñera government, as many members of the Chile Vamos – including the president himself – were powerful businesspeople. Such entanglements produce conflicts of interest in policymaking (e.g., in regulatory affairs), as the recent “Dominga case” (Caso Dominga), a controversial mining project on the north-central coast of Chile which involved the current president, his family and several important businessmen.

There are no regulations mandating transparency with regard to potential conflicts of interest among high-ranking politicians (e.g., the president or government ministers). The corruption scandals revealed in recent years have shown that such questionable practices are more common than the country’s scores on international transparency indexes might suggest. Especially at the municipal and regional level, contracting and public tenders tend to be more susceptible to corruption.

In response to the corruption scandals earlier in the decade, former 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 anti-corruption measures intended to prevent abuse of office. Restrictions on private campaign funding (Ley sobre Fortalecimiento y Transparencia de la Democracia) and the creation of a public register for all lobbyists were subsequently implemented in 2016.

Under President Piñera, a modification of the law on transparency (Ley de Transparencia 2.0) was passed in order to improve the existing regulation in the field of active transparency. The amendment specifically addressed nonprofit legal entities that receive transfers of public funds and companies that are awarded concessions to provide public services.
Presidential Council on Corruption (Consejo Asesor Presidencial Contra los Conflictos de Interés, el Tráfico de Influencias, y la Corrupción), April 2015,, last accessed: 13 January 2022.

Chilean government:
Plataforma Ley de Lobby,, last accessed: 13 January 2022.

Centro de Investigación Periodística (CIPER), “Pandora Papers: Familias Piñera y Délano sellaron millonaria compraventa de Minera Dominga en Islas Vírgenes Británicas”, 3 October 2021,, last accessed: 13 January 2022.
In 2020, Greece ranked 59th among countries surveyed by Transparency International and scored 50 out of 100 on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). In terms of perceptions of corruption, progress has been made since the beginning of the economic crisis commensurate to legal and organizational improvements in anti-corruption.

Above all, amendments to the constitution in 2019, which entered into force in 2020, substantially reduced the leniency of anti-corruption provisions for high-level corruption. Τhe statutory limit for criminal investigations into members of parliament and government ministers was extended, reducing their immunity.

While improvements have been made to the functioning of integrity mechanisms over time, organizational instability has plagued such mechanisms. Particularly during 2012–2018, new integrity mechanisms were periodically established and abolished. Between 2015 and 2018, these mechanisms became extremely politicized, as anti-corruption policies were exclusively aimed against opposition politicians.

Thereafter, the organizational landscape of integrity mechanisms was stabilized with the establishment of the National Transparency Authority in 2019, and the merger of the Office of the Economic Crime Prosecutor and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutors in 2020. Τhe National Anti-Corruption Plan was updated in 2020 and a new one for 2022–2025 is being prepared. Numerous integrity mechanisms, such as corps of inspectors, were subsumed under the National Transparency Authority.

While the National Transparency Authority grew in 2020–2021 in terms of available personnel and resources, in other integrity mechanisms (e.g., offices of prosecutors), there was a lack of administrative staff, skilled staff to monitor cases of sophisticated financial crimes, appropriate digital tools and a system of case management.

Generally, in the period under review, some progress was made in strengthening the regulatory framework and preserving integrity. Constitutional impediments to tackling high-level corruption were lifted. Greece’s integrity mechanisms were better organized than in the past, but still lacked sufficient resources to accomplish their tasks.
For the ranking of Greece by Transparency International in 2020, see

Article 86 of the constitution of Greece was amended in 2019 to improve on integrity mechanisms.

For the European Commission’s assessment of anti-corruption policies, see the latest (2021) EC report on Rule of Law in Greece, available at
A survey of the Israeli legal framework identifies three primary channels of a corruption-prevention strategy. These include maintaining popular trust in public management; ensuring the proper conduct of public servants; and 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 to ensure 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.

Criminal inquiries into politicians are common. Prominent examples in recent years include charging Prime Minister Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust; indicting the minister for welfare and social services, Haim Katz, for fraud and breach of trust; the minister of the interior, Aryeh Deri, signing a plea deal for tax crimes; the sentencing of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for accepting bribes while serving as mayor of Jerusalem; and the sentencing of former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov to 15 months in prison for fraud and breach of trust.
Aliasuf, Itzak, “Ethics of public servants in Israel,” 1991 (Hebrew)

Ariel, Omri, New poll shows 72% view Israel as a corrupt country, 08.01.2016,

Bob, Yonah Jeremy. “AG moves to indict Haim Katz for fraud; Drops IAI charges,” The Jerusalem Post, 15.8.2019:

Bob, Yonah Jeremy. “State Attorney to Attorney General: Indict Arye Deri,” The Jerusalem Post, 15.8.2019:

Holmes, Oliver. “Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu indicted for bribery and fraud.” The Guardian, 21.11.2019:

”Massive scope of Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal revealed,” Ynet 25.12.2014:,7340,L-4607728,00.html

Ma’anit, Chen, Former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov signs plea bargain, Globes, 31/10/2017:

Transparency International: Corruption Perceptions Index 2018:

Transparency International, Corruption Perception Index 2019, 2020,
Wootliff, Raoul, and ToI, “Liberman opposes forming Knesset committee just to reject Netanyahu immunity,” ToI, 26.11.2019,
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. With the reforms of previous governments, the Anti-Corruption Authority (ANAC) has been significantly strengthened and its anti-corruption activity progressively increased. The annual reports of the ANAC offer very detailed analyses of corruption cases (ANAC, Relazione annuale). The Draghi government has promoted a reform of the public procurement system, with the goal of simplifying and speeding up procedures (Relazione PNRR page 41–42). This reform also includes a special agreement with the Anti-Corruption Authority, which enables it to verify effectively the regularity of public contracts.

In general, the ongoing reform of public administration should further contribute to the reduction of administrative abuses.
Citations: (accessed 31 December 2021) (accessed 31 December 2021)
Corruption is not sufficiently contained in Lithuania. In the World Bank’s 2020 Worldwide Governance Indicators, Lithuania scored at the 80th percentile on the issue of corruption control, up from 69th in 2018. In the new Index of Public Integrity, Lithuania was ranked 35th out of 114 countries overall, but only 87th on the issue of budget transparency.

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 2020, measured by the Special Investigation Service based on surveys, the institutions viewed as most corrupt were hospitals, the court system, the parliament and local authorities. A total of 35% of the general population indicated that corruption was a very serious problem. However, there are some positive trends. Compared to previous surveys, the general population, civil servants and business people were for the most part less likely to claim that corruption has become worse, and were more optimistic about the future. For instance, 33% of the general population and as much as 77% of civil servants think that corruption has decreased over the last five years.

In September 2017, the Special Investigation Service investigated allegations of corruption involving Lithuania’s Liberal Movement and Labor party. The parties are suspected of accepting bribes and selling political influence. For instance, two Liberal Movement members are alleged to have accepted bribes of more than €100,000 on behalf of the party from a vice president of a major business group in exchange for political decisions that benefited the corporation. The Special Investigation Service has also launched a high-profile corruption probe into the alleged illegal activities of 48 people (mostly judges and lawyers) suspected of various crimes involving around 110 individual criminal acts.

In 2020 and 2021, the Special Investigation Service launched several prominent corruption investigations targeting the judicial and healthcare sectors, along with government institutions responsible for granting building permits and territorial planning.

According to a 2019 World Economic Forum report, Lithuanian firms still perceive corruption as one of the most important problems for doing business in the country (with the country ranked 36th out of 141 counties in terms of the incidence of corruption). Since state and municipal institutions often inadequately estimate the risk of corruption, not all corruption causes and conditions are addressed in anti-corruption action plans. The European Commission has suggested that Lithuania develop a strategy to tackle informal payments in healthcare and improve the control of conflicts of interest declarations made by public officials.

In 2020, a major scandal broke out when two lobbyists – the heads of the Lithuanian Business Confederation and the Lithuanian Banks Association – were detained as part of an investigation into large-scale bribery. The allegations were related to the use of illegal influence to change legislation. Following the scandal, laws on lobbying were amended, “although their implementation and efficacy are still uncertain” (Nations in Transit 2011). According to the OECD, Lithuania currently has “has good structures in place to monitor and report on integrity and lobbying.”

At the end of 2018, the Lithuanian government created a new Commission for the Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption, which will provide a cross-institution forum to steer implementation and monitoring of the National Anti-Corruption Program. Lithuanian authorities also increased penalties for corruption-related crimes, linking these to the damage caused or benefits obtained from the illegal activities. President Nausėda devoted attention to the reduction of corruption by bringing public attention to the new initiatives and to good practices. Laws on corruption prevention were amended in 2021 with the aim of making corruption prevention efforts more comprehensive.
OECD, Government at a Glance 2001, Lithuania Factsheet, 2021,
The Worldwide Governance Indicators of World Bank are available at
The Lithuanian Corruption Map is available at
The 2019 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum:
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 for Lithuania is available at
The Index of Public Integrity is available at
The European Commission. Annex 15 to the EU Anti-Corruption Report: Lithuania. Brussels, 3.2.2014. COM (2014) 38 final.
The Netherlands is considered a relatively corruption-free country, both in the international rankings of perceptions of corruption and in its own self-conception. The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranks the Netherlands at fourth place in Europe and eighth globally with regard to low levels of perceived corruption. In a Eurobarometer study, 71% of Dutch respondents believe corruption is widespread, yet, in spite of reading daily about corruption cases in the media, only 4% believe it affects their daily lives. Also, 60% have high confidence in the effectiveness of public authorities in fighting corruption. This contrasts strikingly with the opinions of professional corruption fighters, who publicly doubt the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures as being too little and too late.

Probably due to this hubristic self-image among the people and politicians, Dutch anti-corruption policy was until recently underdeveloped, if not outright naïve. It focused on petty corruption and minor integrity issues in the public sector. But this is no longer the case. Authorities have realized that the Netherlands shows tendencies of becoming a narcostate: drug use has been normalized among the population, and has created a highly profitable market. The country produces synthetic drugs and cannabis, and large amounts of cocaine enter through Dutch (Rotterdam, Vlissingen) and Belgian harbor cities (Antwerp). The illegal drug production and trafficking has led to the distribution of drugs labs all over the country, especially in less populated rural areas, as well as to more (lethal) violence in the streets due to drug organizations fighting among each other. It has also meant an increase in corruption, not only among customs officers and other harbor workers, but also in areas involving gambling, hospitality, sports/health centers and other infrastructural services, much of this a result of the massive amounts of money earned in drug trafficking. There are small local governments whose budgets are dwarfed by the amount of money earned in drugs trafficking within their borders.

The marketing of drugs is facilitated by underfunding and neglect of youth care policy in certain city quarters, where disadvantaged youths are easy to recruit as drugs runners or for other similar jobs. Organized crime thrives on conditions of pauperization and exploitation, where younger people, lacking proper education and job opportunities, choose criminal careers because they feel they have nothing to lose. It is believed that most leading criminals in the so-called mocro-mafia started their careers this way. Apart from investing in sophisticated crime fighting investigation equipment, like tools to hack criminal communication channels, better youth care services in the larger cities are badly needed. The Netherlands’ highly favorable business climate and its flexible financial system have also proven to be fertile ground for corruption, as they attract criminal activities in the form of front companies engaging in money laundering and other illegal activities. By linking corruption fighting to a more realistic diagnosis of its causes, Dutch anti-corruption policy is coming of age.

Several other problems also have been highlighted by national and international watchdogs, including integrity violations within police forces with respect to leaking information and having connections with organized crime. In some cases, similar problems have also been identified with respect to local politicians.

On the national level, the country has seen high profile cases of people abusing access to high level (party) officials and ministers. For example, Sywert van der Liendsen used his connections to obtain business deals relating to medical protection materials and allegedly defrauded the government of millions of euros.
Transparency International: 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI),
January 28, 2021


Het Parool, Kieft en Van Unen, 28 September 2019. Schrijver ‘Gomorra’: Nederland heeft dit aan zichzelf te wijten.

Trouw, Spapens, 6 October 2021. Nederland is nog geen narcostaat, maar daadkracht tegen drugscriminelen is nodig

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

de Koning, B., 2018. Vriendjespolitiek. Fraude and corruptie in Nederland, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam
Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
Corruption and bribery scandals have emerged frequently 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.

Financial and office-abuse scandals involving bureaucrats have been rare in recent years. This may be a consequence of stricter accountability rules devised after a string of ethics-related scandals in the late 1990s and early 2000s. A new criminal-justice plea-bargaining system implemented in June 2018 is expected to create additional pressure on companies to comply with anti-corruption laws.

There has been some signs of legal action being taken against political corruption in recent years. For example, in 2021, LDP lawmaker, Tsukasa Akimoto, was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison over bribery involving a casino project, and the Komeito lawmaker, Kiyohiko Toyama, was arrested for illegal loan brokering.

In 2017, Japan joined the UN Convention against Transnational Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption, which have respectively existed since 2000 and 2005. Still, a 2019 OECD report found the enforcement of Japan’s foreign bribery law to be lacking.
UNODC Chief welcomes Japan’s decision to join crime and corruption conventions, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 12 July 2017,

OECD, Japan must urgently address long-standing concerns over forein bribery enforcement, 3 July 2019,

Build public trust in the plea bargaining system (Opinion), The Japan Times, 1 June 2018,
A number of institutions and processes work to prevent corruption. These include the Permanent Commission Against Corruption, the National Audit Office, the Ombuds Office and the Public Service Commission. The judiciary also plays an important part in ensuring accountability.

Since the start of its tenure, the government has introduced a number of reforms. In 2013, it reduced elected political figures’ ability to evade corruption charges by removing statutes of limitation on such cases and introduced a more effective Whistleblower Act, although this needs further reform. In 2016, it passed a law on standards in public life, and in 2018 the government and the opposition agreed on the appointment of the person who will oversee the workings of this law. In 2019, the government appointed the Police Governing Board to assist in reforming the corps and to extend oversight more generally.

A new targeted anti-fraud and corruption strategy was approved by the government. While investigative and prosecution bodies have improved their capacity for dealing with corruption cases, as shown by the increase in the number of cases opened, investigations continue to be lengthy, depending on their complexity, and few high-level cases result in convictions. The reforms concerning the appointment of the police commissioner and of the commissioners of the Permanent Commission against Corruption, as well as the reorganized cooperation between the police and the attorney general are recent. The results of these reforms are yet to be seen. Concerning the rules on integrity for public officials, including members of parliament and ministers, further changes are envisaged. Specific guidelines were put in place to mitigate the risk of corruption in public procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the European Commission 2021 report on rule of law in Malta, “Since October the Attorney General has taken over the prosecution of certain serious crimes including high-level corruption. A total of 14 prosecutors are dedicated to financial crimes and, since the second quarter of 2020, a task force on complex financial crimes has been in place. The number of financial crimes cases investigated and solved has increased substantially, following the recent increase of resources and capacity of the financial crimes investigations department (FCID) that took place between 2019 and September 2020 69. However, the investigation and prosecution of corruption remains a lengthy process, especially in those cases that require large financial data analysis or that are considered complex. There are currently several high-level corruption cases that remain pending before the court.”

There is a separate Code of Ethics that applies to ministers, members of parliament and public servants, and a recently appointed commissioner for standards in public life (who is selected by a two-thirds majority vote in parliament) has already produced results. 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 investigate public-expenditure decisions to ensure that money spent or contracts awarded are transparent, and conducted according to law and general financial regulations. Unfortunately, this committee tends toward a partisan approach which diminishes its effectiveness. Internal audit systems can also be found in every department and ministry, but it is difficult to assess their effectiveness.

Money laundering is criminalized under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which stipulates procedures for the investigation and prosecution of money laundering, and establishes the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations. However, Malta has faced various calls for reform in this sector. In 2021, Malta was grey listed by the FATF. The government has embarked on a program of reform involving the updating of legislation, strategic plans, and stronger monitoring and enforcement.

Conflicts of interest remain common across both parties. The 2020 GAN report states that the public-services sector carries a low corruption risk for businesses operating in Malta, while Malta’s land administration suffers from moderate risks of corruption. It additionally says that corruption risks at Malta’s border are moderate, but that Malta’s public-procurement sector carries a high corruption risk for business. In 2020, the prime minster appointed a committee to review the Vitals hospital deal, which involved the leasing of three government hospitals by an international consortium and was mired in numerous allegations of corruption, including the non-fulfillment of public-procurement regulations. Malta’s Planning Authority (MEPA) has been under scrutiny for decades due to allegations of corruption and other irregularities in its decision-making process. This situation is exacerbated by the prevalence of the face-to-face relationships common in small countries, and the fact that most of Malta’s parliamentarians aside from members of the government serve on a part-time basis, and thus maintain extensive private interests. Many also sit on government boards, a practice which the new commissioner for public standards has deemed to contravene the spirit of the constitution. According to a 2018 report by the European Greens, Malta loses 8.65% of its GDP to corruption. How this figure was arrived at has been contested. According to the 2021 Corruption Perception Index, Malta scored 54 out of 100 points, an improvement of one point from the previous year.
In 2022, the Nationalist Party proposed 12 legislative bills focused on fighting corruption. The bills included the creation of a special magistrate to focus solely on corruption by public officers and the introduction of a new crime for abuse of public office. However, the bills have not found the requisite support needed in parliament to become law.
Audit office finds lack of adherence to procurement regulations by the office of the prime minister 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
Study shows political corruption at the PA Times of Malta 29/10/17
The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018
Will the chickens come home to roost in 2018 Times of Malta 08/01/18
Ombudsman Report 2018
GAN Business anti-corruption Portal 2020 Malta Corruption Report
The Cost of Corruption across the EU. The Greens/EFA Group 2018 includes risk assessments
GRECO Report on Malta 2019
Malta Today 08/01/22 Bernard Grech unveils PN’s anti-corruption package of 12 legislative bills
Corruption has been the most sensitive political problem undermining political stability and the quality of democracy in Slovakia for some time. The revelations that have followed the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová have confirmed the prevalence of corruption in the country. Despite widespread public dissatisfaction with corruption, as evidenced by the mass demonstrations in 2018 and the election of Zuzana Čaputová as president in March 2019, the Pellegrini government has been slow to improve integrity mechanisms and has largely confined itself to updating its anti-corruption strategy in a routine manner. The investigations and trials in the context of the murders of Kuciak and Kušnírová have revealed how deeply politicians of the Fico/Pellegrini government and persons with high positions in justice or legislation have been involved in a network of criminal state activity. The victory of OĽaNO at the parliamentary elections in 2020 traces back to the strong anti-corruption stance of this party and its leader Igor Matovič. The fight against corruption has been one of the key priorities of the new center-right government, which announced a range of reforms in this area. As a matter of fact, the numbers both of initiated proceedings in corruption cases of individuals convicted for corruption offenses have risen substantially in 2020 and 2021. By contrast, progress with institutional reforms has been slow. While the new Office for the Protection of Whistleblowers, formally created in 2019, eventually began taking action in late 2021, draft legislation on lobbying, “revolving doors,” asset declarations, conflicts of interest of members of parliament and public procurement remain at the initial stage (European Commission 2021: 10-15).
European Commission (2021): 2021 Rule of Law Report. Country Chapter on the rule of law situation in Slovakia. SWD(2021) 727 final, Brussels ( EN).
Corruption has been publicly perceived as one of the most serious problems in Slovenia since 2011. 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 for its lack of determination and professionalism, especially after the resignation of Alma Sedlar, one of the three-strong CPC leadership in September 2017, which was eventually replaced by Uroš Novak in March 2018. However, Novak resigned in July 2021 and was replaced by David Lapornik in October 2021. Allegations of corruption have featured prominently in debates about foreign investments (banks, Magna), construction of public infrastructure (railways, highways) and over-payments in the healthcare system. The most recent case involves the purchasing of COVID-19 protection equipment during the first COVID-19 wave in spring 2020, which is being investigated by two parliamentary investigation commissions, the police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The parliament finally managed to adopt an ethical code for members of parliament in June 2020. But the inability of the prosecution to present strong cases, which would enable courts to convict several major political players (e.g., Zoran Janković, mayor of Ljubljana), have raised further doubts about the political elite’s commitment to fighting corruption.
In May 2020, the government and general director of the police replaced the heads of several independent bodies, including the director of the Specialized Anti-corruption Police Department, the director of the Statistical Office (SURS) and the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, for the first time without stating a cause. The dismissal of the director of the National Bureau of Investigation was subsequently annulled by the Administrative Court.
On 19 March 2021, the OECD issued a report stating, “Slovenia’s lack of enforcement of foreign bribery remains a serious concern as allegations of political interference in criminal investigations and prosecutions escalate.” Whistleblowers are only partly protected by law and face the threat of losing their job, at least in the procurement of personal protective equipment case involving Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalše.
A survey commissioned by the Greens in the European Parliament suggests that systemic corruption costs Slovenia €3.5 billion each year, 8.5% of GDP.
The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament (2018): The Costs of Corruption Across the European Union. Brussels (

Ottavio Marzocchi 2021: The situation of Democracy, the Rule of Law andFundamental Rights in Slovenia. Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs Directorate-General for Internal Policies PE 690.410 date.pdf

OECD Anti-Bribery Convention 2021: Slovenia’s lack of enforcement of foreign bribery remains a serious concern as allegations of political interference in criminal investigations and prosecutions escalate.

OECD Anti-Bribery Convention 2021: Implementing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention Phase 4 Report: Slovenia
Bulgaria’s formal legal anti-corruption framework is quite extensive, but has not proven very effective.

In line with recommendations by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, new legislation creating a unified anti-corruption agency was adopted by parliament in December 2017. However, the new agency has not been very effective either in bringing cases of high-level corruption to court or in confiscating illegally acquired property. During the period under review, investigative journalists reported on the agency head’s highly dubious practices (personal-property construction in violation of municipal regulations), who was then forced to resign as a result. Meanwhile, well-documented allegations of conflicts of interest and illicit enrichment through real-estate deals on the part of members of the governing elite, including the deputy chair of the senior ruling-coalition party and the minister of justice, were glossed over as two individuals were exonerated. No corruption charges were ever pursued, and the only consequences were ultimately political, as both individuals had to resign from their party and ministerial positions.

It is too early to comment on provisional changes made in 2021, but all members of the governing parties campaigned during the years on the ticket of “zero tolerance to corruption.”

Some gains have been made, particularly with regard to access to information, the fact that the National Revenue Agency has publicly disclosed so-called tax beneficiaries, and the new provisions requiring government to inform the public of decisions being made. The restoration of the media’s independence bodes well for future improvements.

It remains unclear, however, if reforms to public procurement processes and the judiciary will be introduced.
Popova, M., V. Post (2018): Prosecuting high-level corruption in Eastern Europe., in: Communist and Post-Communist Studies 51(3), 231-244.
Corruption remains one of the key issues facing the political system. During the period under review, a number of high-profile corruption cases surfaced or were under investigation, involving, among others, a close aide to former Prime Minister Milanović and the most powerful man in Croatian soccer. The Agrokor case has also exposed the extent to which economic and political interests in the country co-mingle. While the main anti-corruption office, the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (Ured za Suzbijanje Korupcije i Organiziranog Kriminala, USKOK) and the parliament’s commission for the conflict of interests have been quite active in opening and investigating cases, the courts have often failed to prosecute corruption either as a result of external pressure or a lack of competence. In most of the major corruption cases in which indictments were raised against high-ranking officials like former prime minister Sanader, incumbent Zagreb mayor Bandić and a number of former ministers and other officials, final sentences have been conspicuously absent. In the nine years since Sanader was arrested, only one out of six indictments raised against him received a final sentence. The Constitutional Court’s repeal of the final verdict against Sanader in the case of INA-MOL in 2017 has proven to be highly controversial and many criminal code experts deem the court’s decision to constitute a serious legal mandate overreach. In 2019, four ministers (G. Marić, G. Žalac, T. Tolušić and L. Kuščević) resigned due to inconsistencies or irregularities in their publicly available personal asset list, which raised suspicions of corrupt practices. However, swift, impartial and transparent judicial investigations have been lacking in the aftermath. All of this has additionally shaken citizens’ confidence in the judicial system and the government’s ability to fight corruption. In November 2021, an investigation was launched into the “Software” affair, which related to public procurement of a software system that was awarded to a company with links to then-Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac. Tamara Laptoš, European prosecutor at the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Croatia, confirmed in the media that the case was initiated by that office, following an OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office) report. At the same time, it emerged that the report to OLAF derived from the investigative work of independent journalists, and that the indictment documents in the Software case had not been addressed by Croatian judicial authorities, who apparently did not intend to prosecute.
In Czechia, corruption and clientelism remain widespread. Successive governments have emphasized their commitment to fighting corruption, but have done little to address the issue. Two significant changes were implemented in 2017: amendments were made to the law on party finance and to the law on conflicts of interest. However, major cases take years to resolve and often end in mistrials. There are no public statistics on the number of cases of successfully prosecuted public officials.

Problems with fighting corruption are highlighted by the case of Andrej Babiš, prime minister from 2017 to 2021. The main issue concerns the use of EU funds, which were intended to support SMEs, to finance a business that was temporarily detached from his conglomerate, but returned to his control after the subsidy was received. Despite demands from the opposition for his resignation, and public demonstrations in Prague and other cities, Babiš weathered the storm – governing to the end of his term, as the prosecution case against him progressed at a snail’s pace. MAFRA media portrayed the case as a witch hunt by the opposition and the European Union. Agrofert holding and its subsidiaries remained the largest recipient of EU and Czech government funds in Czechia. In April 2021, the European Commission published the conclusion of its audit, which stated that Babiš still controlled the business, despite having set up trust funds to hold the shares, and that his company must repay the estimated €11 million it had received from the European Union since February 2017. A further case revealed in October 2021 in the Pandora Papers that Babiš had used an offshore company to buy property in France, hoping to avoid French and possibly also Czech taxes. There were multiple signs of corruption during the pandemic, with contracts allocated to apparently inappropriate companies, while Agrofert became one of the major producers of anti-COVID-19 disinfectants.
Rightly or wrongly, 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 type of 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, including judges, a form of in-kind corruption, even nepotism, remains a serious concern. Other, subtle forms of in-kind corruption, which are hard to quantify, also exist. Erlingsson and Kristinsson (2016) write that “corruption is rare but still clearly discernible. Less serious types of corruption, such as favoritism in public appointments and failure to disclose information, are more common than more serious forms, such as extortion, bribes and embezzlement. Nonetheless, it should be noted that a sizable minority of experts still believe corruption is common, especially in the case of favoritism and fraud.”

The collapse of the Icelandic banks in 2008 and the subsequent investigation by the Special Investigation Committee (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. Two of the 10 members of parliament in question still sit in parliament and the cabinet, and one is the finance minister, without having divulged whether or how they settled their debts. Write-offs of bank debt are not made public in Iceland. GRECO has repeatedly highlighted the need for Icelandic members of parliament 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 2021, which measures business corruption, Iceland scored 74 out of 100, where a score of 100 means no corruption. Iceland’s rank has fallen to 13 out of 180 countries, leaving the country well behind the other Nordic countries with scores between 85 and 88. 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. A 2018 poll from the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Iceland shows that 65% of respondents view many or nearly all Icelandic politicians as corrupt.

New information, including emails leaked from one of the failed banks, about corruption surrounding the crash of 2008 and involving a prime minister, came to light in 2017. This information led to a gag order being imposed on the newspaper Stundin shortly before the 2017 election, an order that was lifted in late 2018, long after the election.
Erlingsson, Gissur Ó., and Kristinsson, Gunnar H (2016), “Measuring corruption: whose perceptions should we rely on? Evidence from Iceland,” Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration, Vol. 12, Issue 2, 215-236. Accessed 3 February 2022.

Erlingsson, Gissur Ó. (2014), CORRUPTION IN LOW CORRUPT COUNTRIES: THE CASE OF SWEDEN. Open lecture given at the University of Akureyri, Iceland 19 September 2014.

Hagsmunaskrá Alþingismanna (Financial disclosures of members of parliament), Accessed 3 February 2022.

Special Investigation Committee (SIC) (2010), Report of the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), report delivered to parliament 12 April, Accessed 3 February 2022.

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.)

Transparency International, Accessed 3 February 2022.

Gallup (2013), Government Corruption Viewed as Pervasive Worldwide, Accessed 3 February 2022.
Corruption is widespread in Mexican politics, the judiciary and the police. Anti-corruption efforts so far have failed. During his presidential campaign, AMLO promised to prioritize the fight against corruption. So far, it is unclear how that could happen. According to Transparency Mexico, the president is widely considered to be honest by the public, while a majority of 61% of Mexicans believe he is doing a good job in fighting corruption.
Corruption was a key topic in the 2018 elections following widespread corruption scandals that are shaken the political arena. At the same time, efforts to implement the National Anti-Corruption System (SNA), which had been signed into law by President Nieto in 2016, floundered. At the subnational level, not even half of Mexico’s states have approved the required secondary legislation to implement the SNA.

According to a May 2017 study by Corparmex, the Mexican confederation of business owners, corruption costs Mexico around 10% of its GDP.

The AMLO administration has intensified the fight against corruption. Nonetheless, the SPA, which is filled with MORENA allies, features only one position that has been subject to a proper nomination process: the head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Corruption. The SNA is currently developing an inclusive consultative process involving citizens, institutions, businesses, academia and subnational governments to improve national anti-corruption policies. A national SNA digital platform will provide information and improve coordination. In addition, the government has further integrated corruption into the criminal law system, increasing punishments and detention while awaiting trial. The Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera (UIF), a government agency focused on detecting and preventing financial crimes, has been the central actor in fighting corruption to date. High-ranking politicians, like the former Pemex CEO Lozoya or the head of Pemex’s workers’ union, are the target of corruption charges related to the Odebrecht corruption scandal in Latin America.
The end of impunity for presidents, a law passed by Congress in December 2020, represents a step forward in the fight against corruption.
Latin American Regional Report: Mexico & NAFTA (August 2017) “Anti-corruption reform fails to convince.”
Transparencia Mexicana 2019: Barómetro Global de la Corrupción,
Corruption has remained a major political issue under the PiS government. On the one hand, the latter has continued to accuse the opposition, especially representatives of the previous government, of corruption, and has emphasized its own commitment to the fight against it. On the other hand, the government has itself been under fire for corruption and cronyism (Makowski 2020). Many PiS members and followers have been placed in positions in the state administration or in state-owned enterprises, so a widespread clientelistic network has emerged. However, only a few senior politicians have been convicted of abuses of office or investigated for failing to declare income from dubious economic activities. Since the public prosecutor is also the justice minister and the high courts are no longer politically independent, there is a lack of checks and balances, and control over state institutions. The government itself lacks the political will to fight or prevent corruption. The latest GRECO rapporteurs were not satisfied with their application and found that only one out of 21 recommendations from previous evaluations had been fully implemented (GRECO 2021). In autumn 2020, the government tinkered with the idea of passing a COVID-19 impunity law, which would have exempted anyone from punishment for breaking the law if they did so in the public interest in order to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council of Europe, Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) (2021): Fifth Evaluation Round. Preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies. Compliance Report Poland. Strasbourg (

Makowski, G. (2020): Poland’s hidden corruption, in: Notes from Poland, February 28 (
High levels of corruption continue to persist throughout Romania. The Transparency International Corruption Index issued Romania a score of 44 out of 100 in its 2020 index, with the country ranking 19th in the European Union. However, despite lingering high-level corruption, and a perception at the local level and within the business community that corruption is widespread throughout the country, 2020 and 2021 saw some positive advancements in terms of progress in lifting the European Commission’s Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and implementing anti-corruption strategies.

With respect to the CVM, progress in reversing the damaging legislative amendments to the justice laws between 2017 and 2019 led the European Commission to support Romania’s argument for listing the CVM at the end of 2021. This is supported by legislative amendments working their way through the parliamentary process, which would abolish the SIIJ, increase the professional independence of prosecutors, remove the early retirement scheme for magistrates, modify the provisions on the civil liability of magistrates, remove restrictions on freedom of expression for magistrates, and amend the procedures for appointing and removing senior management prosecutors. These legislative amendments have been described within Romania as a “new coat” for the judiciary and the European Commission has expressed support for the proactive participation of Romanian authorities throughout the CVM process. The European Commission’s 2020 Rule of Law report also notes that legislative and institutional anti-corruption frameworks are broadly in place, with the Ministry of Justice coordinating the implementation of National Anti-Corruption Strategy.

However, institutional challenges and high-level corruption continue to overshadow the Romanian political environment. In 2021, DNA prosecutors requested approval for a criminal probe into former Prime Minister Tariceanu for accepting bribes in 2007–2008. President Iohannis sent the justice minister a request for a criminal investigation of the former environment minister for bribery and embezzlement, and both the daughter of former President Basescu and his former tourism minister were sentenced to prison for their roles in illegally financing his 2009 presidential campaign. In addition, Cristian Popescu Piedone was elected in September 2021 as mayor of Bucharest’s fifth borough, despite being sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of abuse of power in connection to the 2015 Colectiv nightclub fire.

Politically, in October 2021, the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) accused the ruling National Liberal Party (PNL) of offering bribes to members of parliament in exchange for abstaining from a no-confidence vote, which ultimately failed due to the lack of quorum. The AUR claimed that members of parliament were offered lucrative positions for associates or relatives at state-owned energy companies in return for boycotting the vote. Just a month earlier, the USR-PLUS party withdrew its support from the government after then-Prime Minister Florin Cîțu asked the president to remove Stelian Ion, the justice minister and a member of USR-PLUS, after Ion blocked an investment program that would provide RON 10 billion in funding to upgrade local government infrastructure. Opponents say the investment project was an attempt to buy political support using public funds of local mayors ahead of a party leadership campaign. In response, USR-PLUS called on the prime minister to resign and claimed that the proposed infrastructure scheme would allow wealthy individuals to access easy financing without the checks of EU-funded projects, a claim supported by non-governmental organizations based on the outcomes of previous programs. The USR-PLUS, in an effort to unseat Ludovic Orban as party chief, also accused Cîțu of using the scheme to garner support for his then-upcoming leadership campaign.

Political shenanigans at this level contribute to persistent perceptions of corruption throughout the country. Transparency International’s 2020 index reports that 83% of Romanian respondents consider corruption to be widespread in the country, while 64% of respondents report that they feel personally affected by corruption in their daily lives.

The country’s principle anti-corruption institution, the DNA, reported a lack of sufficient resources to carry out its activities “under good conditions,” after receiving just RON 6 million in the first budget of 2021 instead of the RON 30 million it had requested. However, the DNA indicated that it was hopeful that it would receive additional funding in subsequent budget revisions throughout the year. More positively, Anti-Corruption Directorate General officers were trained by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation via webinars, and studied best practices in preventing and combating corruption, discussed ways to improve the legislative framework, and developed new approaches and partnerships in the global fight against corruption. However, this represents a minor step in equipping the country’s anti-corruption apparatus.
European Commission (2021): Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Progress in Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. COM(2021) 370 final, Brussels (
The conviction of officials and others for corruption since 2014, and successive plans presented by the government have been received with skepticism by a public that is not convinced that a true will to fight corruption exists.

GRECO observed in its 2020 compliance report that most of its anti-corruption recommendations for the parliament were not implemented. We note, however, that rules on party financing, introduced in compliance with recommendations, have gaps and problems that affect transparency and effective control.

The European Commission repeated in late 2021 its 2019 observations on corruption. A draft law for an anti-corruption agency is still under examination, while a whistleblower protection issue remains pending. A critical issue is that, for existing codes of conduct, no monitoring, evaluation mechanisms or reports are established. This is the case for ministerial and public sector codes of conduct.

Media, the auditor general and government-appointed inquiry committees established that officials, including the Council of Ministers, acted in violation of laws and/or ethical standards in connection to the granting of passports to investors. Officials choose to talk about mistakes or abuse of the system, refuting the real problem, corruption, which is not an issue of mistake. Without accepting the facts, the credibility of any anti-corruption plan or effort remains low.
1. GRECO – Cyprus – Fourth Evaluation Report Corruption prevention in respect of members of
parliament, judges and prosecutors November 2020 embers-of/1680a06389
2. Anastasiades feels vindicated by passport probe, Knews-Kathimerini, 3 July 2021,
3. More than half citizenships given through investment unlawful, inquiry concludes (updated), Cyprus Mail, 16 April 2021,
Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption is one of the central problems of Hungary (European Commission 2021: 10-14). Widespread corruption has been a systemic feature of the Orbán governments, with benefits and influence growing through Fidesz informal political-business networks. Members of the Fidesz elite have been involved in a number of large-scale corruption scandals, with many people accumulating substantial wealth in a short period of time. They have enjoyed the protection by parts of the judiciary, as Péter Polt, the chief public prosecutor and a former Fidesz politician, has persistently refrained from investigating the corrupt practices of prominent oligarchs. Hungary has led OLAF’s list of member states where irregularities in the use of EU funding have been known for some time and has conspicuously failed to cooperate with the European Union’s anti-fraud agency. In 2021, the legal anti-corruption framework was further weakened by the narrowing of the application scope for public procurement rules. The government has taken no specific measures to limit corruption in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic during which special procurement rules have applied.
European Commission (2021): 2021 Rule of Law Report. Country Chapter on the rule of law situation in Hungary. SWD(2021) 714 final, Brussels ( EN).
Turkey is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and Civil Law Convention on Corruption. The UNCAC and the Council of Europe conventions are not effectively used. Turkey is a member of GRECO, but its recommendations are not fully implemented. Turkey’s authorities do not have an established track record of successfully prosecuting high-level corruption. Turkey needs to adopt an anti-corruption strategy that reflects the political will to address corruption effectively, and which is underpinned by a credible and realistic action plan.

Both the legal framework and the institutional structure continue to allow undue executive influence in the investigation and prosecution of high-profile corruption cases. These need to be improved in line with international standards. The limited amount of accountability and transparency at public institutions remain a matter of concern. The absence of a robust anti-corruption strategy and action plan is a sign of the lack of political will to tackle corruption decisively.
Law No. 657 on Civil Servants and Law No. 5393 on Municipalities, among other laws, include principles and rules of integrity. The asset-declaration system was established in 1990 by Law No. 3628 on Asset Disclosure and Fighting Bribery and Corruption. All public officials (legislative, executive and judicial, including nationally and locally elected officials) must disclose their assets within one month of taking office, and must renew their declaration every five years. However, these declarations are not made public unless there is an administrative or judicial investigation.

The Regulation on Procedure and Basis of Application of the Civil Servants Ethical Behavior Principles defines civil service restrictions, conflicts of interest, and incompatibilities. The Council of Ethics for Public Officials, which was attached to the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey in July 2018, lacks the power to enforce its decisions through disciplinary measures. Codes of ethics do not exist for military personnel or academics. Legal loopholes (e.g., regarding disclosure of gifts, financial interests and holdings, and foreign travel paid for by outside sources) in the code of ethics for parliamentarians remain in place.

There is a high risk of corruption in public procurement. Companies are recommended to use a specialized public procurement due to diligence tool to mitigate corruption risks related to public procurement in Turkey. Procurement legislation has been amended 191 times since 2002. The changes mainly serve the interests of party-affiliated businessmen. This group, which is called “beşli çete” (gang of five) among the opposition circles, were expected to receive public procurement contracts worth $150 billion worth.

Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) is the main service unit of the Ministry of Finance within the scope of Law No. 5549 on Prevention of Laundering Proceeds of Crime and Financing of Terrorism. In 2019, a total of 203,786 requests were submitted to MASAK. Of these, 20,850 requests were related to the financing of terrorism, of which 98% were related to the financing of the FETO/PYD organization. Criminal complaints were filed against 220 people. Assets worth TRY 9 million, belonging to 1,149 people, were confiscated due to illegal betting.
European Commission. “Turkey Report 2021. Commission Staff Working Document.” October 19, 2021.

Sözcü. “Alfabede harf kalmadı ihale yasası yine değişiyor,” October 5, 2021.

Bianet. “Yandaş şirketlerin aldığı ihaleler 2020 bütçesinden fazla,” September 7, 2020.

Hürriyet. “MASAK’a 203 bin 786 şüpheli işlem bildirildi,” July 28, 2020.
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