CPI 2022: the key findings

Written by Jake Plenderleith on Thursday February 2, 2023

‘Scant progress against corruption as world becomes more violent’ – this, the unhappy summary from Transparency International on the global fight against corruption.

Transparency’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI),[1] released this week, reveals that efforts to stem corrupt activity across the world are stagnant, aptly demonstrated by the fact that, since 2017, some 95% of countries have made ‘little to no progress’.

The CPI has always received criticism, with accusations of bias and concerns about its methodology.[2] But it is still the most respected resource for gaining insight into how a country takes on corruption. For compliance professionals, it is a key tool in assessing country risk, as well as a useful aid for horizon scanning potential developments.

Ups and downs

A lot of the findings in this year’s Index are as we would expect. Scandinavian countries performed very well – with Denmark taking pole position – as did Switzerland, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. The UK, meanwhile, was among a group of significant decliners – including Canada, Pakistan, Austria and Malaysia – and also received its poorest ever score (73).

Every country in the top 10 is in Europe or Asia (New Zealand being the outlier), though it is telling that the only countries in the top 10 whose scores improved were Ireland and Denmark. The highest ranked South American country is Uruguay (14), whilst Africa’s best performer is the Seychelles (23).

At the foot of the ranking come the expected strugglers: Somalia, Syria, South Sudan and Venezuela, though interestingly, North Korea’s ranking improved (but still with a poor score of 171).

Ireland is a noteworthy success story, achieving at tenth place its highest ever ranking, and is one of the few countries to continue a path of improvement, alongside Israel, Lithuania and South Korea.

Violence and corruption

Since last year’s CPI, there has been plenty of political and geopolitical upheaval. And in their analysis of the 2022 Index, Transparency makes clear the relationship that increasing violence has with the flourishing of corruption.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the standout example, something Transparency explicitly links to corrupt kleptocrats around Putin sacrificing their political influence for key contracts and money, giving the Russian President free reign to make decisions like that which saw Ukrainian sovereignty violated.

Transparency also pointed to Yemen, a country in serious peril, noting that it was corruption that ignited protests in the country which led to the civil war which has wrought devastation and a humanitarian crisis. 

Transparency also reiterated the idea that those countries who ranked well are not immune from corruption, by singling out countries with relatively strong anti-corruption records for comment. Germany, for instance, (ranked ninth) has established a new defence budget of 100 billion euros in light of events in Ukraine. With government defence departments notoriously secretive, this is a situation posing a significant corruption risk.

The overall picture is not an optimistic one. It will be fascinating to see how efforts to stem corruption are renewed in light of Transparency’s findings.

See Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 here:

Interested in helping prevent corruption? Take a look at the ICA Specialist Certificate in Anti-Corruption:

[1] Transparency International, ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2022’: - accessed February 2022

[2] Professor Paul Haywood, ‘The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI): the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, The British Academy, 3 February 2016: -- accessed February 2022


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