Transparency International divided on corruption?
It has been suggested to us that there is currently a fierce debate going on inside TI about the forthcoming index, and the debate hinges on our analysis. We understand that insiders are furious that their veteran methodology for calculating their index has produced a draft table that records Singapore as the fourth "cleanest" country in the world, when many of us know all too well that Singapore is one of the world's most toxic, and fast-growing, tax havens, hoovering up dirty money from all around the world. (This is by no means the only problem jurisdiction: in the last table, noxious tax haven states such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and others, also crowd right up there as "clean" states.)
In fairness to TI, they have recognised clearly and explicitly that they have a major problem with their CPI, and with the fact that their table analyses individual countries, but not the global picture. A statement accompanying the last CPI says:
"Corruption by high-level public officials in poor countries has an international dimension that implicates the CPI’s top scorers. . . . global financial centres play a pivotal role in allowing corrupt officials to move, hide and invest their illicitly gained wealth. Offshore financing, for example, played a crucial role in the looting of millions from developing countries such as Nigeria and the Philippines, facilitating the misdeeds of corrupt leaders and impoverishing those they governed."
Absolutely spot on. And they quote Akere Muna, Vice Chair of Transparency International:
“Criticism by rich countries of corruption in poor ones has little credibility while their financial institutions sit on wealth stolen from the world’s poorest people.”
Well said. But the problem is that journalists and many others are busy people, and they so often simply do not have the time or inclination to read through the blurb accompanying the index. What they want is something that handily enables them to say "Transparency International ranks X as the world's tenth most corrupt country" and then move on. So this ranking, by giving many extremely dirty countries a clean bill of health, does not please us.
There is clearly a big problem here. As our recent article in The American Interest explains, the world is now gearing up for Phase Two in the fight against corruption. And we are pleased that TI is working with us on creating a new Financial Transparency Index. It will take quite a long time to crunch the data to produce this, so it won't be available soon. Click here for more details.