Corruption-economy - The rich breed corruption

Civis Mundi Digitaal #41

door Michel van Hulten




Bribery, a way of life, a news item in a daily

The Telegraph  


26 October 2016 • 8:59pm, Telegraph

Bribery a way of life for companies operating in emerging markets 

Alan Tovey, Industry Editor 


Bribery is a way of life for British companies working in emerging markets, with 85pc of managers forced to resort to it to do business, according to a new report.

A 12-year inquiry by Prof Andrew Kakabadse, of Henley Business School, claims the vast majority of UK managers operating in these markets resort to the dishonest practice on a monthly basis – often with the tacit permission of their chief executives. The days of used banknotes being handed over in brown envelopes are gone, Mr Kakabadse said, with bribery having turned into a “highly organised, almost professionalised, business of agents taking ’facilitation fees’ to secure deals”.   Henley Business School calculates that globally corruption costs businesses 5pc of annual revenues. 

Bribery is so institutionalised in some markets he said he had been told of instances of agents bidding against each with lower bribes – usually a percentage of a contract’s value, and often up to 10pc  – to make sure a company engaged them.

Mr Kakabadse, professor of governance and leadership at the respected institution, said his findings were based on “intimate discussions” with executives ranging from general managers to chief executives from more than 1,000 international businesses, of which more than 10pc were UK companies.

He said that while laws such as Britain’s Bribery Act and the US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the stiff penalties around them “bring fear to boards”, they are also creating a class of “fall guys”.

“Many boards are following the act but know bribery is a fact of life lower down the company, the people on the ground,” Mr Kakabadse said.  The Bribery Act is feared but not respected 

“It is the managing directors and general managers in country… who are being forced to give bribes to win business. These are good people being forced to do bad things. Boards are doing worse than paying lip service to anti-corruption laws because they are using them to protect themselves while they know bribery is going on.”

His study identified no particular sectors or executives from certain countries as being more likely to indulge in corruption, and said he was surprised that only 85pc admitted to using bribes. His findings are in contrast to PwC’s most recent global economic crime survey which indicated that 18pc of senior management in companies are involved in the crime including accounting fraud, and 80pc of board level executives admit to seeing it. Henley Business School’s research calculates that corrupt payments cost businesses about 5pc of their revenues a year.

The findings from Mr Kakabadse highlight the difficulties companies face operating in emerging markets, according to GoodCorporation, the anti-corruption and business ethics adviser. 

Michael Littlechild, director of the group, added: “Many large international organisations give explicit instructions to staff to refuse bribes and some have pulled out of countries where the risk is too great.  “Those that have ignored the law have faced huge fines.”  




Please note from the above article:

-          ‘… operating in emerging markets’


-          ‘Henley Business School calculates that globally corruption costs businesses 5pc of annual revenues.’


-          ‘ … managing directors and general managers in country… who are being forced to give bribes to win business.’ 

-          ‘… good people being forced to do bad things.’

-          ‘… surprised that only 85pc admitted to using bribes.’

-          ‘… 18pc of senior management in companies are involved in the crime …’ (PwC) -        ‘…  80pc of board level executives admit to seeing it.’ (PwC)


------ _________________

One day later Forbes comes with similar information referring to the article in The Telegraph.




Oct 27, 2016 @ 04:55 PM 508 views

85% Of Managers Resort To Bribery When Trading In Developing Economies Jonathan Webb, Contributor. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


Research producedifrom the Henley Business School shows that managers are willing to pay bribes when trading overseas. The study interviewed over 900 business executives during a period of 12 years.

Although the research focused upon British managers, it also coveredii businesspersons from China, Ireland, Germany and Russia.

Andrew Kakabadse, professor of governance and leadership at Henley Business School, noted that: ‘These suspect business practices are typically committed by concerned managers who feel that they have no alternative other than to pull out of the country in question.’

That is to say businesses trading in the emerging economies feel as though they face the dilemma of either paying bribes or ceasing trading in that market.

Within certain countries, bribery is considered an accepted or even necessary component of doing business. For many companies, this is simply part of ‘local custom’. These attitudes have been challenged by recent legal developments.

In 2012, the UK launched its Bribery Act commonly considered one of the most stringent anti-corruption laws in the world. It became an offence under English law for a company to pay a bribe (or fail to prevent a bribe’s payment) anywhere in the world, as long as that firm traded in the UK.

Although many anti-corruption campaigners welcomed the new law’s introduction, businesses decried its potentially damaging impacts. One corporate lawyer complained to me that it was an act of ‘cultural imperialism’.

The implication here is that the new law trampled over the local practices of other countries and denied large businesses from competing on a level playing field when trading in emerging economies. Companies from many countries are notoriously malleable in adapting to ‘local custom’. Singapore, for instance, which is commonly regarded as the least corrupt country in Asia, is often subject to fierce criticism for overlooking the questionable practices of its businesses abroad. Siemens, a manufacturer originating from the fair-trading German economy, has faced penalties under the US Foreign Corrupt Practice Act

(FCPA)exceeding $800 million.

This underlines the view that corruption is not merely a problem of the developing world. Businesses from the West are supporting the local practices of corruption by readily paying bribes. Transparency International, the corruption research organization, regularly commissions a ranking of the countries whose companies are most likely to pay bribes when trading abroad. This study is called the Bribe Payers Index(BPI).


Transparency International Bribe Payers Index



Score (/10)































Source: Transparency International, 2011 

Interestingly, it is often the firms originating from the least corrupt countries that are most willing to pay bribes abroad. Of the 28 states included in the most recent study, the Netherlands and Switzerland score the worst. By contrast, in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception’s Index– a separate list of 167 countries ranked by the absence of bribery – the Netherlands is ranked 5th and Switzerland 7th. The message being that companies behave well at home, but badly abroad.




Please note from the above article:

-          ‘ … Trading In Developing Economies’


-          ‘… concerned managers who feel that they have no alternative …’

-          ‘… bribery is considered an accepted or even necessary component of doing business. For many companies, this is simply part of ‘local custom’.

-          ‘… UK launched its Bribery Act … the new law trampled over the local practices of other countries and denied large businesses from competing on a level playing field when trading in emerging economies.’

-          ‘Businesses from the West are supporting the local practices of corruption by readily paying bribes.’

-          The Netherlands, rank number 1, score 8.8, top scorer on the Bribe Payers Index.


-          ‘ … in the most recent study, the Netherlands and Switzerland score the worst. 


------ __________________________

I sent an e-mail asking professor Andrew Kakabadse information about the ‘new research’ and ‘the new report’ as mentioned in the two articles. I am happy that I did as he forwarded me the News posted on 25th October 2016, with a cover note saying ‘All I can offer is the original statement on my website’ and ‘There is no report. I emphasised to the Telegraph that my comments are based on my experiences of having worked with many international organisations operating in governance regimes alien to that of their own home country.’ 

His original message came right after.



October 25, 2016

At my request I received the original message from the office of Andrew & Nada Kakabadse, Please find the original story by Professor Kakabadse here:

The News - Posted on 25th October 2016

Bribery hits 85% for UK managers operating internationally

New research from Henley Business School indicates that over 85% of UK managers are using bribery on a monthly basis when operating in culturally different environments. The 12-year inquiry, based on intimate conversations with over 900 business leaders, further reveals that 80% of board level executives admit to being aware of the practise. Professor of Governance and Leadership at Henley Business School, Andrew Kakabadse, explains:

“This project originally began in 2004 as an exercise to help coach and support high-level business individuals who were struggling with certain aspects and demands of their jobs.

“However, it quickly became apparent that a key obstacle was dealing with everyday fraud, bribery and corruption. In other words, if they didn’t pay-up to achieve their organisation’s objectives, then their competitors certainly would.”

The research team’s work covered managers from Russia, Ireland, China, Georgia, Germany, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

Professor Kakabadse comments: “These suspect business practises are typically costing organisations 5% of their revenue annually and are often committed by concerned managers, who feel that they have no alternative other than to pull out of the country in question.

“No one condones the idea of bribery including the vast majority of citizens in a particular country. Instead, many concentrate on the so called ‘corrupt manager,’ while bribery is largely a result of inequality and dishonest government.

“So many countries in the world are now deeply corrupt and it is impossible to do business without accepting local practices. The only alternative is no business. “Our work shows that leadership decisions and morality are proving more powerful in practice than any governance or regulatory frameworks. The only way to address bribery is to recognise and bring to the surface the reality of what is happening in the world. “A more concerted effort and partnership between business and government can start changing these deeply undesired practices which destroy public trust in society. This is a situation that has become so serious it is beyond the realm of any one manager or organisation to solve.”



Main reason why it is so difficult to fight corruption


I am happy with his statement and the follow-up by The Telegraph and Forbes. It helped me to write about the strange ideas that have developed over the years of anticorruption research and activities that corruption is a characteristic of the poor and of poor countries. This is also the only objection I have against all three writings: that they emphasize ‘operating in emerging markets’ and ‘trading in developing economies’. The bulk of corruption originates from actors operating and trading from bases in the economically developed world. Most corrupt money is to be found in our world, not in the world of the major victims. See at the end of this article my ‘construct’.  More and more while working in many countries and circumstances, I came to the conclusion that the poor and the poor countries are the victims. Those who profit from corruption are the rich and powerful. That is also the main reason why it is so difficult to fight corruption and impossible to eradicate this phenomenon from our economies.

Corruption and wealth go hand in hand. The rich breed corruption.



Disappointing is it that no one succeeded yet in writing a definition of corruption that covers corrupt behavior in all countries, and among all populations and cultures of the world. Can we discuss what we cannot define?


OECD observes in the Preface of its 2014 report (An analysis of the crime of bribery of foreign public officialsiii) more or less the same:

‘However, in order to fight corruption and win, we have to know our enemy. Until now, there have been very few successful attempts to measure this complex and covert crime. We have been fighting in the dark. Often disguised through a series of offshore transactions, multiple intermediaries and complex corporate structures, the detection, investigation and sanctioning of foreign bribery requires expertise, time and co-operation.’


Michael Johnston in his Syndromes of corruption; wealth, power, and democracyiv(2005) made it convincingly clear that at least four different corruption-modes exist (‘Influence markets (a.o. the Netherlands and the USA), Elite-cartel (a.o. Belgium and South Korea), Oligarch and clan (a.o. Malaysia and Russia), Official moguls’(a.o. China and

Zimbabwe). Evidently, if really four different modes of corruption do exist, this rules out the possibility to rank all countries of the world in one list from least to most corrupt. 


Transparency International on the other hand acts this way and puts so-called apples, pears, tomatoes and grapes in one chest, call all this ‘fruit’, and discuss its ripeness on average in its annual CPI – Corruption Perceptions Index.



Everybody would love to know more about corruption. How much corrupt behavior exists in the world? Is the quantity established? How? What are the disruptive influences of this kind of socio-economic behavior? What weight do these have, and how much does this costs to consumers and taxpayers, and to the economy in general? How much effort and money would be needed to eliminate this phenomenon? Is it economical to behave corrupt? Do your profits gain more than your costs? Is there additional profit which you cannot gain without corrupt behavior?


But how to measure something which you cannot define? What counts in, what is out? Efforts have been made to come as close as possible to valid data and observations, calculations and perceptions. Maybe, in the end, once we will know more about the incidence of corruption, this will also help to qualify corruption?


Resume of conclusions

The size of global corruption is estimated as a trillion of US dollars or more, 3% of the world product (World Bank) or ‘as calculated by Henley Business School globally corruption costs businesses 5% of annual revenues’. But corresponding figures per continent and/or country that could together come to the same size are missing.


In this paper I will present again old information from the beginning of this century on actual absolute figures available from the World Bank. I add later facts found by other researchers, and reflect on this. This brings me to the conclusion that the so-called ‘cleanest’ countries and populations (in short the Nordics of Europe, New Zealand and

Singapore) are not as good as perceived by TI and the public opinion. And that the ‘meanest’ ones, (a.o. half of the African continent), cannot possibly (in absolute figures) qualify for that title as they are too poor overall. Their economies are in total so small that whatever corruption exists in those poor countries, these cannot reach the levels of corrupt expenditure which is possible in richer economies.

I continue my search for absolute figures per country and per continent and for an answer to the question why these are so difficult to find?

.. and would appreciate contributions from others to find the wanted information.




What is corruption?

Nobody likes corruption. Corrupt behavior is a socio-economic phenomenon that is not well known. Facts are difficult to establish, although a growing body of research results offers more and more insights. Corruption is omnipresent. 


TI (Transparency Internationalv) defines corruption as:

“The abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.

This definition is not consistent with what is said in her following more detailed definition of ‘corruption’ which restricts this power-concept of ‘entrusted power’ to

‘public powers’.


TI continues on its website (→  ‘Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.

Grand corruption consists of acts committed at a high level of government that distort policies or the central functioning of the state, enabling leaders to benefit at the expense of the public good. 

Petty corruption refers to everyday abuse of entrusted power by low- and midlevel public officials in their interactions with ordinary citizens, who often are trying to access basic goods or services in places like hospitals, schools, police departments and other agencies.

Political corruption is a manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources and financing by political decision makers, who abuse their position to sustain their power, status and wealth.’ [See animated definitions of many corruption terms in the TIAnti-corruption Glossary, go to →]


However, the latter more detailed text is consistent with the work done by TI on its yearly published Corruption Perceptions Index that ‘measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide’. See →


Inevitably this leads to the question whether the more a society is free-market-oriented, the less it can be corrupt as relatively the public sector will be smaller? Is it correct to neglect all corruption in relationships between private individuals and inside private business entities, because the full picture of corruption in a country may become totally different and the score on (perceptions of) corrupt behavior may become considerably lower? Does this help the rich countries of the world to score better, seemingly lesscorrupt, than the poor countries as is shown in this annual TI-Index?


The phenomenon ‘corruption’, also known as ‘corrupt behavior’ is not (or at best is ill-) defined. Everybody agrees that corruption has to do with unjustifiable privileges and with abuse of power in a reciprocal way. It is within someone’s power to deviate from the rules and to make someone else profit from such a deviation. In return those receiving a privilege (which may also be a financial gift) will repay in cash or will return a favor or privilege. 

Additionally, many see differences in the understanding of the concept ‘corruption’ in different cultures, times and places.


Human behavior may be corrupt or integer, the two concepts are their antonyms. A little bit (Dutch: ‘een beetje’) ‘integer’ does not exist, although some do not agree with this statementvi. They claim that there is a ‘grey’ zone between the two. And indeed, this is highly plausible, the more so as we are not able to define ‘corruption’.


Many think that the Netherlands is (nearly) free from corruption. Most likely is that a high proportion of the Dutch people (estimate 80 percent?) is integer in their behavior but even that high figure cannot make the country as such ‘integer’. Are these integer statements?


Dutch corruption

First of all, countries, organizations, including business-entities cannot be corrupt or integer. Individuals in organizations are corrupt or are not. But, until recently, it seems that there was a kind of taboo on naming and shaming of individuals. (The Dutch TI made this her official policy! The World Bank began the blacklisting of individuals much later than she began her policy-fight against corruption in business in 1996). That should not be done? Was this because those guilty of corrupt behavior often belong to the elite? Anyhow, these had power to get their privileges and that is the essence of corruption.


Second, if for finding corruption you look at and consider only illicit payments, the wellknown well-filled brown envelopes, maybe the answer is ‘yes’; generally speaking Dutch people are not corrupt. 

However, if your eye catches the ‘quid pro quo’ between payer and payee (a wide-spread behavioral phenomenon among decision-makers, among those ‘in power’) the answer may be ‘no’. This corruption-syndrome is the one labelled by Johnston as ‘influence market’. ‘If you do something for me, I will do something for you’. 

This would also explain why the more egalitarian a society is, the less there can be corrupt behavior in the society and also in the economy?


Third, but also if it is justifiable to call the Dutch not or less corrupt than their neighbors in Europe, or than other Europeans inside the borders of the Netherlands, how to qualify the Dutch abroad? Or the Dutch in their behavior at home in border-crossing activities? 


Fourth, the next question that comes up is, whether it is justifiable to call the Dutch less corrupt than others after the Chair of Transparency International Nederland (TI-N) reported as his view (in the important socio-political and financial daily NRC

Handelsblad of 26 October 2010) a total of annual Dutch corrupt payments of €10 billion

(‘10 miljard’, nine zero’s)? This already high figure was smaller than it could have been if TI-Netherlands had not hypothesized that the Dutch business-community would be twice as honest as the British. This thought in turn was related to the findings by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the UK that 4 percent of the British Gross National Product is related to corruption. The assumption was subsequently that the Dutch could be considered to qualify for a corruption of half the British figure, i.e. 2 percent of GNP, or as mentioned above in absolute figures: annually 10 billion euro. This assumption was not explained neither motivated why it was used. (see → 

Anyhow, with these two figures from UK and the Netherlands, the least we can say is that we have now some measure of the quantity of British and Dutch corrupt behavior in their respective economies.


Fifth, widespread in the Netherlands is also the thought that corrupt behavior is needed for any economy and for a healthy economy in general. ‘Corruption is the oil that greases the wheel’. Costs made for that greasing of the wheels have long been considered as

‘facilitation payments’. Law permitted this in the Netherlands, of course.vii


Costs and profits 

The costs of corruption are often named and calculated (how can, if we are short of facts?) and/or estimated (correct, exaggerated or underestimated?). Costs and profits are concepts that are typically used in economy-discourses. 


The World Bank names in her announcement of the 3rd Conference of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance, December 8-10, 2014, the costs of corruption not in money terms, but as:

 systematic corruptionenriches lawbreakers, undermines respect for the rule of law,thwarts good-governance effortsand drains scarce resourcesfrom effective development.



As far as I know, the World Bank never published a list of names of countries with their respective losses due to corruption in real money terms. Neither did TI, OECD, UNDP, or EU.


The Commission of the European Union qualified the costs of corruption in 2014 as 


 ‘Corruption seriously harms the economy and society as a whole. Many countries around the world suffer from deep-rooted corruption that hampers economic development, undermines democracy, and damages social justice and the rule of law. The Member States of the EU are not immune to this reality. Corruption varies in nature and extent from one country to another, but it affects all Member States. It impinges on good governance, sound management of public money, and competitive markets. In extreme cases, it undermines the trust of citizens in democratic institutions and processes.’viii


The profits of corruption are less discussed than the costs as most people agree that ethically speaking corruption should be eradicated. If you make a profit from corrupt behavior, why should everybody know? Rare are the politicians, public servants, businessmen and citizens that want to be known and seen as ‘corrupt’.

Nevertheless, some thoughts on costs and profits of corruption could help understand this socio-economic behavior. In this paper I will quote figures from various sources that supposedly represent the reality of the ‘corrupt economy’. 


How much corruption exists in the world? What are the costs, what are the profits? What can be said about the perpetrators of corruption as a crime? Would it help to split figures over ‘grand corruption’, ‘petty corruption’ and ‘political corruption’? Or over: men and women? The rich and the poor? The old and the young? In rich and in poor economies? In particular sectors of the economy? Are such generalizations permissible?


The major problem in acquiring more knowledge about the concept and the factual reality of ‘corruption’ is that (nearly) everybody involved in corrupt behavior wants to keep those acts secret. In other words: this makes fact-finding very difficult. Nobody appreciates to be or to become associated in public with corruption. Is this a moral or an economic judgment? Can you fight corruption with ethics?


One way out of this dilemma is to opt for another vocabulary. To ask attention for ‘integrity’. This sounds as a virtue instead of choosing the word ‘corruption’, which sounds as a vice. Also the words ‘governance’ and ‘quality of governance’ are winning! As ‘Lector’ involved in this field of study and education at the SAXION University of Applied Sciences between 2007 and 2015, my function was also named: ‘Lector Governance’! (In Dutch ‘Bestuurskunde’).


Anything hidden is difficult to quantify.

The global non-governmental organization Transparency International published in 1995 its first ranking of countries under the title ‘Corruption Index’.  

So many protests were raised the world over against the name of this listing and its pretended reliability that from 1996 onwards TI produced the same annual kind of listing, but now under the name ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’ (CPI). 


TI claims that it ranks countries after it 

‘measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide’.


Note the verb ‘measures’ in relation to the words ‘perceived levels’ in this statement. The measuring by TI has nothing to do with established facts. The realistic consequence is that TI does not pretend to publish data about corruption facts in this ranking of countries according to their ‘state of corruption’. TI confirms that it does not have that pretention. TI measures perceptions: ‘based on expert opinion from around the world’. Therefore the real question becomes: who is considered to be an ‘expert’? 


The Chairman of TI at the time, Peter Eigen, defined ‘expert’ in the accompanying Press Release:

“It is an assessment undertaken for us by a specialist economist, Dr Johann Graf Lambsdorffix of the University of Göttingen, in which existing polls of international business interests and financial journalists have been analysed and collated.  It is thus a picture of how international business sees the levels of corruption in the 41 countries ranked in the survey.”

For him obviously there was no doubt possible: once you had views based on ‘business interests and financial journalists’. In my opinion this is a rather one-sided source of intelligence for this kind of assessment.


If you go over the lists of those that have been involved as the voices of these perceptions, you find quickly in all CPIs published since 1995 that the poor, sick and handicapped, the housewives, blue collar workers, inhabitants of Third World countries (except for expatriate workers in those countries), etcetera, in other words the weak and powerless, appear rarely as those asked to voice their opinion (‘perceptions’), and that expatriates, white collar workers, males, age 25-55, and academics dominate the panels and samples. Could it be that this choice of respondents has an influence upon the outcomes?

Go to: the information sources of this CPI. 


Although there is this one-sidedness in the choice of the respondents, nevertheless

‘opinions’ vary, as obviously cultures in which corruption exists vary. Therefore, after

1995 in the name of the CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index) the word ‘perceptions’ is given in plural. In fact by using this plural, also TI recognizes that it is comparing

‘apples, pears, tomatoes and grapes, all in one chest’, see page 6 above.  


From the CPIs we can learn nothing in absolute figures about the size of corruption in the world. No amounts are asked in a great variety of approaches in all sources aggregated for the CPIs. No tabulation and count is made of corruption-cases detected, investigated, prosecuted. No inventory is made of cases that had been in court or appeared in the media.


An early report

It was only in the early 1990’s that corruption began to attract modern political and policy interests in the wake of the scientific interest that had begun some two decades earlier. Early studies often begin with a reference to the old age of corruption in human history and disqualification of corrupt behavior. 


Also the following study began with a quote dated ‘circa 300 B.C.–150 A.D.’: Kaufmann, Daniel, Corruption: The facts (this article originally appeared in the Summer 1997 edition of Foreign Policy).  


Although this study is titled ‘The facts’, it also emphasizes that it is short of documented facts. Anyhow, it is a fascinating short report (17 pages, 5.567 words) of findings and conclusions that appear to be fully in concordance with more recent studies. Not much has changed. Kaufmann explicitly asks the question:

‘Corruption: Curse or Blessing?

A central theme of the "grease-the-wheels" argument is that bribery can be an efficient way of getting around burdensome regulations and ineffective legal systems.’

In our political and business-world, many adhere to the same argument! See next.


Most remarkable for this article by Kaufmann is that the title reads: ‘The Facts’ while in his text no facts about bribes paid are given neither per case nor in any accumulated form! Closest to precision come the sentence: ‘Nigeria, for example, has seen billions siphoned out of its budget over the past decades’ (p.3). No more information is given about these Nigerian billions.

In another sense, however, facts are presented. Not in terms of amounts of money flowing from the bribe-giver to the bribe-taker, but as costs for the state, the businessenterprises or individuals involved, in time, administration, bureaucracy (and stress).


From his article I quote some costs in abbreviated form (I add italics), from pages 4-5.

Read the full article on the internet.

[ … ] Talent is misallocated, as the jobs with the potential to collect lucrative graft attract people who otherwise would accept the more modest financial rewards of truly productive occupations. Poor technological decisions are taken by corrupt bureaucrats, who tend to favor nonstandard, complex, and expensive capital-intensive projects that make it easier to skim significant sums. A large defense or infrastructure contract may thus be favored over the construction of hundreds of primary schools and health clinics.

[ … ] Enormous time is lost by entrepreneurs and officials engaged in corrupt activities. Queuing, negotiating, ensuring the secrecy of the deals and illicit payments, and guarding against the ever-present risk of non-delivery of the promised signatures and permits are time-intensive activities—as is the frequent need to renegotiate or pay an additional bribe to another bureaucrat. [ … ] A 1996 enterprise survey showed that within Ukraine firm owners who pay a lot in bribes have to spend almost one-third more time with officials than firm owners who pay less in bribes. Those high-bribing firms also need to spend 75 staff weeks per year of (non-owner) administration time in dealing with officials, as compared with a yearly average of 22 staff weeks for low-bribing firms. 

Using data compiled by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness

Report 1996, which surveyed 2,000 enterprises across 49 countries, we have

calculated that in settings with higher regulatory and state-bureaucratic interference in business, the incidence of corrupt practices is significantly higher. Further, the higher the degree of regulatory discretion, the higher the incidence of bribery of officials. Surveys in countries of the former Soviet Union show that high regulations and taxes are associated with the need to pay high bribes in order to survive. [ … ] 

[ … ] A recent empirical study by economist Paolo Mauro found that a corrupt country is likely to achieve aggregate investment levels of almost 5 per cent less than a relatively uncorrupt country and to lose about half a percentage point of gross domestic product growth per year. Mauro also found that corruption is likely to distort public expenditures: Corrupt countries appear to spend less on education. The harm to development of underinvesting in education is well known. Yet the effects of illiteracy on corruption are underappreciated and are studied less often.

There is evidence that corruption slows foreign direct investment; a recent study by economist Shang-Jen Wei showed that investing in a relatively corrupt country, as compared with an uncorrupt one, is equivalent to an additional 20 per cent ("private") tax on the investment. [ … ] 


Ambiguity in views

Kaufmann continues in his second paragraph with:

[ … ] ‘In more recent times a revisionist view has held that corruption may not be inconsistent with development and at times may even foster it. In the late 1970s, Nathaniel Leff of Columbia University argued, for example, that "corruption may introduce an element of competition into what is otherwise a comfortably monopolistic industry … [and] payment of the highest bribes [becomes] one of the principal criteria for allocation....Hence, a tendency toward efficiency is introduced into the system." Likewise economist Francis Lui, in a 1985 issue of the Journal of Political Economy, asserted that "bribing strategies...minimize the average value of the time costs of the queue … [and the official]...could choose to speed up the service when bribery is allowed."’



In other words: appreciate the qualities added by corruption!

And this from the researcher who contributed so much to the knowledge about the nefast consequences of corrupt behavior.



Lack of figures: Size of global corruption?


World Bank


Seven years later, in 2004, came from the same researcher/author Daniel Kaufmann, then Director for Governance at the World Bank Institute, the one trillion US-dollars figure as indication of the size of global corruption. He is also for me a highly esteemed reliable source. Note also that this World Bank study comes about ten years after the formal founding of Transparency International in Berlin in 1993. It will take the WB-Presidency another two years before corruption becomes a major subject for the World Bank to act upon.


In fact the resulting figures of his underlying study conclude to a global corruption-size of between 600 billion and 1.5 trillion US-dollars, for publicity reasons compressed and presented in a Press Release as:

“$1, and counting… The costs of corruption”. The World Bank Anticorruption Feature, April 8, 2004.

“More than $1 trillion dollars (US$1,000 billion) is paid in bribes each year, according to ongoing research at the World Bank Institute (WBI). Daniel

Kaufmann, the Institute’s director for Governance, says this US$1 trillion figure is an estimate of actual bribes paid worldwide in both rich and developing countries. "It is important to emphasize that this is not simply a developing country problem," Kaufmann says. "Fighting corruption is a global challenge."”



Originally, this Press Release could be found as an article at

This page cannot be found anymore. That is the reason why I reproduce the full text of the press release below. Also the article Grease Trade by Peter Eigen which I mention in my e-mail below cannot be found any more on the internet. Both caught my eye at the time. I stored the WB Press Release as follows below under ‘quote’ with the following text of my e-mail asking questions.


At the time I asked the World Bank information by e-mail:

‘I read with great interest several of the articles you informed me about in your monthly newsletter of 8/3/2004.

In particular I was interested by the articles under the titles <the costs of corruption> and <Grease Trade>, the latter one from Peter Eigen of TI.

In both articles data are given with regard to the total volume of corrupt payments worldwide per year. The figure given is US$ 1 trillion, as it says calculated using 2001-02 economic data and compared to the total size of the world economy of US$30 trillion.

I understood also from the contexts that one trillion equals 1 million times 1 million. Is that correct?

What I could not find on your website is the study which was summarized in this rather short article describing this result. In other words, I am looking for the basis on which you could give this result. This is the more so needed as up till quite recently I got the impression from earlier World Bank information that the total size of corruption in the world is in the order of US$ 50 billion (1.000 times 1 million) 20 times smaller than the figure given now.

So it is not only the extreme high amount of money involved in corruption according to your publication of the article which amazes me, but also the rather quick multiplication by 20 of the originally given data.

Could you send me the full study or indicate where at the web I can find it?’



Regretfully, I could never lay hands on the full study report. It was never sent to me and I could not find this via the internet (same with the Peter Eigen article). My e-mail was not answered. The Press Release based on this WB-study I have still available:


Press Release



April 8 2004, press release 

    The Costs of Corruption

April 8, 2004—More than $1 trillion dollars (US$1,000 billion) is paid in bribes each year, according to ongoing research at the World Bank Institute (WBI).

Daniel Kaufmann, the Institute’s director for Governance, says this US$1 trillion figure is an estimate of actual bribes paid worldwide in both rich and developing countries.


"It is important to emphasize that this is not simply a developing country problem,"

Kaufmann says. "Fighting corruption is a global challenge."

The $1 trillion figure, calculated using 2001-02 economic data compares with an estimated size of the world economy at that time of just over US$30 trillion, Kaufmann says, and does not include embezzlement of public funds or theft of public assets. It is extremely difficult to assess the extent of worldwide embezzlement of public funds,

"but we do know it is a very serious issue in many settings." For example Transparency International estimates that former Indonesian leader Suharto embezzled anywhere between $15-35 billion from his country, while Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Mobutu in Zaire and Abacha in Nigeria may have embezzled up to $5 billion each.


Kaufmann notes that a calculation of the total amounts of corrupt transactions is only part of the overall costs of corruption, which constitutes a major obstacle to reducing poverty, inequality and infant mortality in emerging economies.

WBI research shows that countries that tackle corruption and improve their rule of law can increase their national incomes by as much as four times in the long term, and child mortality can fall as much as 75 percent. "We have found what we label as the ’400 percent governance dividend’," Kaufmann says.

A country with an income per capita of US$2000 that addresses corruption, improves its governance and the rule of law could expect to see its income rise to US$8000 in the long run. 


Tackling Corruption Can Boost Development

Not surprisingly, tackling corruption and governance can provide a major boost to a developing country, according to Kaufmann.

Countries like Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, and Slovenia, which have curtailed corruption to levels comparable with those of many wealthy industrialized countries, challenge the popular notion that a country needs to become rich in order to address corruption. Research utilizing a comprehensive governance database of 200 countries shows, in fact, that higher national incomes per capita result from improving governance, rule of law, and corruption control.

There are many successes at the project level that also illustrate what is feasible, such as the citizen’s report card in Bangalore, India, which has resulted in an increase in citizen satisfaction with local agencies and a decline in corruption, or expenditure tracking surveys in Uganda, which led to a reduction in budgetary leakages away from local schools.


Is the Battle Against Corruption Being Won?

Progress has been made in fighting corruption in some areas, but much still needs to be done, says Kaufmann. The main challenge lies ahead, and will require enormous political resolve, by national governments, the private sector (including multinationals), and international bodies.

Some country leaders and governments are serious about addressing corruption. On the international scene, one positive is the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, signed in December 2003 in Merida, Mexico. Other international organizations, such as the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development and the Organization of American States, have also implemented anti-corruption conventions.


Kaufmann says the World Bank, which until the mid-1990s had been constrained from assisting countries fight corruption, significantly stepped up its efforts under current President James Wolfensohn, following the landmark "cancer of corruption" speech on this challenge at the 1996 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings.


Through projects in about 100 countries, the Bank is assisting in this area. Equally important is the Bank’s own ’zero tolerance’ policy on corruption internally and the aggressive approach to minimize corruption on Bank-funded projects. The Bank publicly names companies found to have been engaged in corrupt practices in its projects. So far more than 100 firms have been debarred.

Research confirms some countries have achieved success while others have not. "There are success stories in some countries, cities and institutions. But the sobering reality is that for each success case, there has been inaction or deterioration in others. The variation in performance across countries, cities and institutions in controlling corruption is enormous. The key is to learn from the mistakes and successes of early experience in this area," Kaufmann says.


The Way Forward

Given the "sobering reality" of the extent of international corruption, some rethinking of how to address it might be necessary, according to Kaufmann. Key issues include:


Viewing corruption within the context of governance and institutional change  Promoting the rule of law, protection of property rights, freedom of the press, political competition, and transparency in general, and in politics in particular (such as in campaign finance) is vital. Mechanisms to allow citizens to have an effective voice are also central.


The power of data and transparency

Reformist countries utilize data to measure and monitor progress on governance and assist in decision-making on governance and corruption. Pro-transparency measures such as Freedom of Information Acts, public asset disclosure by high officials, and transparent access to the voting records of parliamentarians should be further encouraged. As important is the continuing scaling up in worldwide indicators as well as country-specific diagnostic efforts.

There is no evidence that ideology, culture, globalization or privatization are culprits behind corruption. 

Corruption has thrived and been quashed by governments of all political leanings.

Globalization can help control corruption by increasing transparency and competition.


Revisiting the wisdom of anti-corruption agencies and traditional legal initiatives The overall record of anti-corruption agencies (which are often created for political expediency and at the expense of difficult systemic reforms) is mixed at best. So is the focus on redrafting laws. This suggests that a shift away from these agency-creation and/or traditional legal initiatives may be warranted. Instead, what is needed is moving towards much more focus on incentives, prevention, and systemic institutional and regulatory reforms, focusing on existing public, private and civil society institutions.


Citizen involvement in fighting corruption

Anti-corruption efforts cannot succeed only by actions of a few government agencies. Civil society, the media, Parliament, the judiciary and the private sector must be involved in a participatory way, with full voice and empowerment. Innovative ways of involving the citizenry at the local level, working with their municipalities to improve governance and control corruption, can be very effective - such as in a large project reaching many Indonesian villages, or in the participatory budgeting process in Porto Alegre, Brazil.


Open and transparent private sector competition, to avoid capture of state institutions by monopolistic private vested interests


Domestic politics contributes enormously to the success or failure of any effort to reduce corruption. 

Vested interests need to be explicitly recognized and understood, acknowledging that at times the domestic private elite exerts undue influence against public governance reforms. For reforms to proceed, there has to be leadership from within the domestic political scene, which is prepared to overcome pressures blocking reforms from members of the public and private sectors. A redoubling of international efforts is crucial, but these will not succeed without leadership and resolve from within the country.


The role of an international compact

International organizations need to distill the lessons of experience and suggest frank and concrete steps to improve results. Multinational corporations can significantly affect governance and corruption within an emerging economy - for better or worse. Thus, a set of incentives and transparency measures (such as ’publish what you pay’ to governments; debarring of rogue firms engaged in bribery, etc.) is required to ensure a positive influence. Further disclosure in international banking and tackling money laundering are also important. A higher priority effort by the G-8 against corruption is also warranted. Finally, in this context, further prominence of governance and anticorruption incentives and criteria for eligibility to join global or regional economic and trade agreements can also be a powerful incentive. This is illustrated for instance by the cases of Chile (accessing early to NAFTA, and then EU and other such agreements), and the EU accession countries from the transition region. Eventual membership in these ’select’ international economic and political clubs provided an impetus to improve governance.




Late publication?

Backroom talk at the time presented the picture that the results of the research department of the World Bank had been ready for publication about a year earlier, one year before the date of the Press Release. It was said that there was a problem in the WB-directorate that at least some directors did only slowly accept that the results had to be published. This was a problem as such decisions needed unanimity which took time to arrive. An understandable hesitancy caused by the not-to-good picture of so much money spoiled in corrupt practices involving so many government officials of Governments also represented on the same Board of Directors. This also could explain why the full study results have never been made public.


Although we got a more general global picture of the real size of the corruption phenomenon through the publication of this press release, we still never got a breakdown of the world-figures into absolute figures per continent or per country, neither per sector of production, neither between share of the rich and of the poor, share by women and men, religious people or atheists, or any other break-down. It is inconceivable that more is not known. More likely it is the same hesitancy that prevented the full openness with regard to the global research results. Probably, the same Directors/Governments did not appreciate full publicity for outcomes related to their continents or countries.


Moreover is interesting that the World Bank never again did a similar study to find the real figures for a later year. Maybe the experience of this one research and the problems encountered in publishing the 2002/3-outcomes were sobering such a desire. Given the secrecy surrounding corrupt behavior, this is an understandable policy. The more so, as some/many (?) among the ‘high and mighty’ could not have been pleased with correct information about the size of corrupt behavior and the real costs to society.


I do not want to belittle other work the World Bank did since 1995 on the subject of corruption (however, not any more publishing absolute figures about corruption!) which is most clearly demonstrated in the work on the WB Worldwide Governance Indicators (→ ‘Control of Corruption’ appears here as one among six ‘dimensions of governance’. I find it most interesting that

‘governance’-quality prevails in the Bank’s attention over ‘economy’, certainly for a bank of which you might expect much attention for economic features. And that like the Corruption Perceptions Index of TI, the Bank established quite some data for these indicators on ‘views’ and not on facts. See below that word in red. Those who offered their views for use by the Bank seem to be broader in their educational and professional characteristics as the ones contributing via TI in the 1995-Corruption Index.


Quote [from the website].

The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project reports aggregate and

individual governance indicators for over 200 countries and territories over the period 1996–2015, for six dimensions of governance:  

  • Voice and Accountability
  • Political Stability and Absence of Violence
  • Government Effectiveness
  • Regulatory Quality
  • Rule of Law
  • Control of Corruption

These aggregate indicators combine the views of a large number of enterprise, citizen and expert survey respondents in industrial and developing countries.  They are based on over 30 individual data sources produced by a variety of survey institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and private sector firms. The WGI are produced by: Daniel Kaufmann, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) and Brookings Institution, and Aart Kraay, World Bank Development Research Group. 




[Go for interactive data access, description of the methodology and for downloading of the full dataset to the website →] 



Transparency International and OECD


A first indication in absolute figures of global costs of corruption, we also find on the TIwebsite:

‘Poor countries lose US$1 trillion a year to corruption.’ 

   [a trillion is]

The source of this figure is not given. I assume that the figure of US$1 trillion has been borrowed from the older World Bank study referred and discussed above which published as its main outcome this figure for the whole of the world without restriction to

‘poor countries’. 


TI follows closely the implementation of the most important conventions agreed on international level and the ways the signatories do what they promised to do. Close observation may help to understand the phenomenon, but in particular also to detect whether corruption grows or disappears under the influence of the outspoken global political will to have it disappear.


On 20 August 2015 · Transparency International Secretariatpublished: 


              20 major exporting countries violate international law obligations


‘22 of the 41 OECD anti-bribery convention countries have failed to investigate or prosecute any foreign bribery case during the last four years, violating their obligation to combat cross-border bribery.

‘However, there is some good news as four countries have improved their enforcement efforts and only one country slid back, says anti-corruption group Transparency International today in its 11th annual progress report on enforcement of the convention.

Sixteen years after the entry into force of the convention, the 2015 progress report shows that only four of 41 countries signed up are actively investigating and prosecuting companies that bribe foreign officials to get or inflate contracts, or obtain licences and concessions. Six countries are classified as having moderate enforcement, while another nine have limited enforcement. The remaining 20 countries are doing little or nothing to ensure their companies do not spread corruption around the world and two countries could not be measured. “By signing up to the OECD anti-bribery convention, governments commit to investigate and prosecute cross-border corruption, yet nearly half of signatory governments are not doing so,” said Transparency International chair José Ugaz. “The OECD must ensure real consequences for such poor performance. Violation of international law obligations to counter cross-border corruption cannot be tolerated.”

‘The 20 countries with little or no enforcement make up 20.4 per cent of world exports. These countries are failing to investigate and prosecute cross-border bribery due to a lack of political will and inadequate resources allocated toward enforcement measures and investigations. There are 12 convention countries, including some old democracies, where effective political influence or its risk hinders the work of the criminal justice system.

‘Insufficient sanctions foreseen by law or imposed in practice to deter foreign bribery also hamper enforcement efforts in 21 countries. The OECD Foreign Bribery Report, published in December 2014, indicates that significant sanctions were imposed in only 17 of 41 countries. In Russia, changes to the criminal code in 2015 reduced the size of penalties for receiving or giving bribes, including those relating to foreign officials.

The four leading enforcers (Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United

States) completed 215 cases and started 59 new cases from 2011-2014. The other 35 countries completed 30 and started 63. Twenty countries have not brought any criminal charges for major cross-border corruption by companies in the last four years.

‘Since the 2014 progress report, Norway has improved to “Moderate

Enforcement” from “Limited Enforcement”. Greece, Netherlands and South

Korea have improved to “Limited Enforcement” from “Little or No

Enforcement”. Argentina is the only country to decline – moving from “Limited Enforcement” to “Little or No Enforcement”.

Six of the countries in the G20 are in the “Little or No Enforcement” category, meaning they are failing to meet the goals set in the G20’s Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2015-2016.

‘So as to improve the level of anti-foreign bribery enforcement in the OECD convention countries that give almost two-thirds of the world exports it is crucial that civil society and the private sector start national programmes that address the shortcomings of their governments.’


The report is to be found at: report_2015_assessing_enforcement_of_the_oecd 



Breakdown of enforcement levels of OECD anti-bribery convention signatory countries (listed in order of their share of world exports)


Active Enforcement: (4 countries) 22.8 %

United States


United Kingdom


Moderate Enforcement: (6 countries) 8.8%







Limited Enforcement: (9 countries) 12.7% 



South Korea



South Africa **



New Zealand

Little or No Enforcement: (20 countries) 20.4% 


Russia ***









Czech Republic





Slovak Republic

Colombia ***




Iceland could not be classified as its share in world exports is too small to permit distinctions to be made between enforcement categories. The same applies to Latvia because of its small share in world exports and the short time since it joined the Convention. 




** Without any major case commenced during the past four years a country does not qualify as being a moderate enforcer, and without a major case with substantial sanctions being concluded in the past four years a country does not qualify as being an active enforcer.

*** The Convention entered into force in Russia in April 2012, in Colombia in January 2013 and in Latvia in May 2014, so the requirements were lowered proportionately.


Press contact(s):

Chris Sanders - T: +49 30 34 38 20 666 - E:



TI is not a good source if you want to find data about facts of corruption. No annual tables on its website where at least you could find the names of countries with numbers of prosecution cases, amounts of penalties paid, numbers of cases being investigated or names of corrupters in whatever kind of black list.


From this TI-analysis of the OECD-study we can learn ‘how many’ foreign bribery cases of corruption have been investigated and persecuted in the Member states of the OECD. Do we consider this to be a good beginning? How is it possible that from 41 countriessignatory states, 20 of these countries participate with ‘little or no Enforcement’? 




More arguments

Maybe it helps for unbelievers - who might still think that it is an established fact after the foregoing data and reasoning that ‘Africa is more corrupt than Europe’ - to refer to some more data and arguments from others.


Global Financial Integrity – GFI


Capital flight from the poor world to the rich world

Corruption comes in many forms and the money raised by corrupt payments must find outflow-possibilities otherwise it cannot be made profitable for the bribe-takers. The best way to launder ‘black’ money is to export it abroad, out of sight of the authorities and control mechanisms that exist in all countries of the world. In other words: make use of the old saying that if you want to get to know more about criminal acts: ‘follow the money’.


The December 2015 report from Global Financial Integrity, an anticorruption watchdog group, “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2004-2013” finds that developing and emerging economies lost US$7.8 trillion in illicit financial flows from 2004 through 2013, with illicit outflows increasing at an average rate of 6.5 percent per year—nearly twice as fast as global GDP. 


This report is GFI’s annual update on the amount of money flowing out of developing economies as a result of crime, corruption and tax evasion. It is the first GFI-report to include data for estimates of illicit financial flows from developing countries in 2013 - which the study pegs at US$1.1 trillion. 

And it is the sixth annual update of GFI’s groundbreaking 2008 report, “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries 2002-2006.” 


GFI: ‘Over 83 percent of these outflows occur through the deliberate mis-invoicing of trade transactions’. 

Again suits the question: where is this registered? In the countries that see their money go, or in the countries where it arrives during the following money-laundering process?


No wonder that Africa remains poor!


I quote from a blog byTom Cardamonex (September 30, 2014): GFI Calls for a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to Halve Illicit Flows from Trade Mis-invoicing by 2030:

‘The momentum toward global action on illicit flows by the international community (i.e. the United Nations, OECD, G20, etc.) has grown substantially over the past three years.  Indeed, last October, theWorld Bank Groupnoted that “there is little doubt that [illicit] flows have a pernicious impact on development” and theUN groupworking on development financing said that “domestic resource mobilization is being severely undermined by illicit financial flows.”  And, in January, theAfrican Unionstated that “it is imperative to curtail illicit financial flows [to ensure] the efficient and effective use of resources.’


The intentions are good, implementation is much more difficult. 


As Tom Cardamone, very much involved in this field and knowledgeable, remarks:

‘The political will exists, but what is the actual target to be reached? The UN’s Open Working Group (OWG) labored long and hard this summer to deliver a consensusdocumenton SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] goals and targets to the Secretary-General, and a target to reduce illicit flows was included.’  

However, the target included under goal #16, originally given as 

‘decrease by x% corruption in all its forms and illicit financial flows’,  was watered down to softer language 

‘to reduce arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime’, neither measurable nor achievable.’

Obviously, the specificity on corruption was not acceptable to the Governments involved. But the final text of the document returned to the original and better text of target 4 and 5 in Goal 16xi (but still permits the question: what is the exact meaning of ‘significantly and substantially reduce’):

            By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.    Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.

The same UN-document quantifies corruption under the paragraph given for Goal 16 as: 

‘Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above $1.25 for at least six years.’


Note that again is missing here the spread over and per continent and per country, and that the amount of US$ 1.26 trillion as given relates to ‘developing countries’ only.



European Union


Anti-Corruption report 2014 

‘Corruption continues to be a challenge for Europe - a phenomenon that costs the European economy around 120 billion euros per year. EU member countries have taken many initiatives in recent years, but the results are uneven and more should be done to prevent and punish corruption.’ (Quote from the Report and from EU-Commissioner Cecilia Malmström).


In footnote 3 on page 3 of the 2014 EU Anti-Corruption Report is clearly mentioned that

‘no established data support the rough figure of € 120 billion per year given as ‘costs of corruption’:

‘The total economic costs of corruption cannot easily be calculated. The cited figure is based on estimates by specialised institutions and bodies, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, Transparency International, UN Global Compact, World Economic Forum, Clean Business is Good Business, 2009, which suggest that corruption amounts to 5% of GDP at world level.’ See also the document ‘Brussels, 6.6.2011 COM(2011) 308 final’, the Commission Communication on Fighting Corruption in the EU of 6 June 2011:


The European Commission mentions in this same communication as a result of the TI ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index that ‘nine Member States were ranked amongst the 20 least corrupt countries in the world’. [Obviously, the Commission overlooked that it is incorrect to mention this as a ‘fact’, whereas it is no more than the measurement of a ‘perception’.]


This communication, and also the 2014-Report, does not give absolute figures for the size of the corruption phenomenon in the Member States of the EU per state.

We encounter here the same lack of information as with the World Bank figure of one trillion of dollars corruption-related financing globally that the World Bank did not specify per continent or per country.

The Commission does not know? Or the Commission does not want to come in problems in the relations with the Member-Governments?


I regret this lack of information on absolute numbers with regard to corruption, as Europeans are deeply worried about corruption - Eurobarometerxii survey results show that three quarters (76%) of Europeans think that corruption is widespread and more than half (56%) think that the level of corruption in their country has increased over the past three years. As this is a survey with respondents the resulting data are opinions. No facts per country have been asked or are given.


In its February 2014 Anti-Corruption report, the European Commission provides a clear picture of the situation in each Member State: measures in place, outstanding issues, policies that are working and areas that could be improved. See → 


The report shows that the nature and scope of corruption varies from one Member State to another and that the effectiveness of anti-corruption policies is quite different. It also shows that corruption deserves greater attention in all EU Member States.

[A new EU-report has been announced to be published early in 2017, delayed from an earlier proposed date in 2016]


In the following paragraphs I quote from the Report pages 5-6 in a summarized way:


‘Two Eurobarometer surveys were carried out in preparation for the EU Anticorruption Report in early 2013: the 1) Special Eurobarometer and 2) a businessfocused ‘Flash survey’. [… ] 

Taking together the Special Eurobarometer data, firstly on general perceptions of the prevalence of corruption and secondly on actually being expected to pay a bribe (personal experience in bribery), it is clear that Member States can be characterised in different ways.

[ … ] 

A survey conducted among the general population in all Member States every two years, based on face-to-face interviews with a sample of 1000 or 500 respondents (depending on the size of the population). A total of 27 786 persons

(representative sample) participated in this survey in late February and early March of 2013. The survey dealt inter alia with corruption perception generally, personal experience with corruption as well as attitudes towards favors and gifts. While the Eurobarometer surveys are run every second year since 2007, the Commission decided in 2013 to tailor questions to the needs of this report. Therefore, any comparison with previous years should be undertaken with caution. 

A phone-based survey, so-called Flash Eurobarometer, covered six sectors in

EU28, and was launched for the first time in 2013, carried out between 18 February and 8 March. Businesses from the energy, healthcare, construction, manufacturing, telecommunications and financial sectors (all company sizes) were requested to provide their opinion. Full report is available at 8    


Answers confirm a positive perception and low experience of bribery in the case of Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden. Respondents in these countries rarely indicated that they had been expected to pay a bribe (less than 1% of cases) and the number of people who think that corruption is widespread (20%, 29%, 42% and 44% respectively) is significantly below the EU average. In the case of the UK, only 5 persons out of 1115 were expected to pay a bribe (less than 1%), showing the best result in all Europe; nevertheless, the perception data show that 64% of UK respondents think corruption is widespread in the country (the EU average is 74%).  

In countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia and France, while more than half of the respondents think corruption is a widespread phenomenon, the actual number of people having had to pay a bribe is low (around 2%). [ … ] Austria shares similar features with this group with the exception of a somewhat high number of respondents (5%) who reported to have been expected to pay a bribe. 

In some countries a relatively high number of people indicated that they had personal experience with bribery, but with a clear concentration on a limited number of sectors, including Hungary (13%), Slovakia (14%) and Poland (15%). In these countries, one sector, namely healthcare, provides the bulk of instances of bribery. There is evidence that structural problems in healthcare provide incentives to pay a bribe for medical staff. Indeed, in all the countries mentioned, the detailed answer show that healthcare is referred to by the highest number of individuals, while all other institutions or sectors (e.g. police, customs, politicians, public prosecutors’ services, etc) were named by less than 1% of respondents. Corruption in a broader sense is perceived as widespread in these countries (82% in Poland, 89% in Hungary and 90% in Slovakia). 

In certain countries, including Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Italy, bribery seems rare but corruption in a broader sense is a serious concern: a relatively low number of respondents claimed that they were asked or expected to pay a bribe in the last 12 months. While personal experience of bribery is apparently rare (13%), the perception is so heavily influenced by recent political scandals and the financial and economic crisis that this is reflected in the respondents’ negative impression about the corruption situation overall (90, 91, 95 and 97 % respectively).  

As for countries lagging behind in the scores concerning both perceptions and actual experience of corruption, these include Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. In these countries, between 6% and 29% of respondents indicated that they were asked or expected to pay a bribe in the past 12 months, while 84% up to 99% think that corruption is widespread in their country. [ … ]

Countries not mentioned above (i.e. Latvia, Malta, Ireland, Cyprus) do not show results that diverge considerably from the EU average on any of these aspects.’ 


At European level

‘At European level, three quarters of respondents (76 %) think that corruption is widespread in their own country.’ 

[ … ]

‘Around one in twelve Europeans (8 %) say they have experienced or witnessed a case of corruption in the past 12 months.’ 

[ … ]

‘Around three quarters of Europeans (73 %) say that bribery and the use of connections is often the easiest way of obtaining certain public services in their country.’  [ … ]




It is interesting to see what conclusions are drawn. See for instance the low incidence reported for Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden, where less than 1% of respondents indicated that they had been expected to pay a bribe. Whereas the number of people who think that corruption is widespread in their respective home-countries varies between 20% and 44%.

The conclusion in the EU-report is that these high percentages are below the EU-average, this is presented as a comforting thought but this is not of much importance as conclusion. More important and certainly interesting could be a different conclusion which also produces several questions, such as how to explain that more than twentyfold till forty times more people believe that corruption is widespread, than the number of people that have lived through that experience? Does this happen with all crime? Is this exaggeration or what is it else?

For the next group of five countries mentioned (Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia and France) we see a comparable outcome. In these five countries 2% mention actual experience, and ‘more than half’ ‘think’.



See for instance also that in Hungary, Slovakia and Poland a considerably higher percentage of people have ‘personal experience with bribery’, but only in a ‘limited number of sectors’. Evidence shows that healthcare is the culprit, ‘all other sectors (e.g. police, customs, politicians, public prosecutors’ services) were also named by less than 1% of respondents’. And, please continue reading: ‘ … personal experience of bribery is … (1-3%)  the perception is highly influenced by recent political scandals … that this is reflected in the respondents’ negative impression’.  

Conclusion: corruption facts are rare, the perception of corruption jumps high.


Business perceptions

For the business-focused Flash survey the country results show striking variations: a difference of 89 percentage points between the highest (Greece: 99%) and lowest (Denmark: 10%) levels of perceived corruption. (The same result is reflected in the

‘Special Eurobarometer’ presented above: 20% vs 99%.)  [ … ]


At European level, more than 4 out of 10 companies consider corruption to be a problem for doing business, and this is true for patronage and nepotism too. When asked specifically whether corruption is a problem for doing business, 50 % of the construction sector and 33 % of the telecoms/IT companies felt it was a problem to a serious extent. 


The smaller the company, the more often corruption and nepotism appears as a problem for doing business. 




Big Corruption Performers


From all sources mentioned in the foregoing text it is easy to find a colossal figure for the largest geographical entity: World $1 trillion, Europe €120 billion with strong follow-up influences in the economy and society. 

Per continent and per country there is not much to be found in numbers. Is something wrong with the administration of corrupt behavior? How do we get these high global figures if we cannot support them with similar data from lower levels in our society?



If we look at Europe, we see as one of the possible conclusions that a very tiny group of citizens in at least some ten countries have hardly ever a real-life experience with corruption. A bit exaggerated: they have never had to pay a bribe. In comparison with this outcome is it an extreme to see that 40-50 percent in Western Europe and 80-90 percent in Eastern Europe, in any case a high number of citizens, express the feeling that corruption is widespread.



It is also difficult to imagine that an amount as one trillion dollars can be constituted by small bribes: the ten dollar note for the medical assistant or for the school-class-assistant. Or the bribe paid to the policeman asking him not to write in case of traffic violation. 


That problem does not any more exist in the USA where a serious approach by the judiciary of what might be wrong in the country, supported by the political will at the highest level of authority resulted in numerous judicial procedures with investigations, convictions, and high penalties, which as a side-effect offer us also real facts about what is ongoing.


It is interesting to begin with the ‘top ten’ as they are called with highest penalties paid. Clearly, this has nothing to do with perceptions, this is the real economy



Tuesday Oct 04, 2016 – Information from FCPA –Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. By Richard L. Cassinxiii | Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 8:28AM 


The ‘top ten’ of formally established, and named as such, companies that are involved in judicial anti-corruption enforcement actions because of their corrupt behavior are headquartered in the USA (3), France (3), Germany (1), UK (1), and the Netherlands (2). 


Not a single one among them is to be found in Africa, Asia, Latin America, neither in one of the former Soviet Union countries in Europe and Asia. All are ‘rich world’.

The five countries named all stood among the top 25 (‘the cleanest’) in the Corruption Perceptions Index made by TI in 2015, respectively ranking as number 16, 23, 10, 10, 5.


All 5 are classified by Michael Johnston in the cluster ‘Influence Markets’. 


The current top ten FCPA enforcement actions (with their penalties given) of all time:

  1. Siemens(Germany): $800 million in 2008.
  2. Alstom(France): $772 million in 2014.
  3. KBR / Halliburton(USA): $579 million in 2009.
  4. Och-Ziff (USA): $412 million in 2016.
  5. BAE(UK): $400 million in 2010.
  6. Total SA(France) $398 million in 2013.
  7. VimpelCom(Holland) $397.6 million in 2016.
  8. Alcoa(U.S.) $384 million in 2014.
  9. Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V. / ENI S.p.A(Holland/Italy): $365 million in 2010.
  10. Technip SA(France): $338 million in 2010.


Och-Ziff Capital Management Group landed fourth on the list of the ten biggest FCPA cases of all time. It was the first change in the list since VimpelCom joined the top ten in February [2016] this year.


The ten biggest FCPA cases involved financial penalties of $4.84 billion, or an average of $484 million per business entity.


Once you see these figures, you will understand that the figure of one trillion is probably not an exaggerated outcome and could be the real fact for a global indication of the enormity of the problem. But still it would be helpful to know what else is registered in corruption cases in all courts, in all Member-States. 

Why is there not such a register in the Dutch Ministry of Justice? Or is it? And kept secret?


High penalties?

The high figures of penalties in all these cases, lead us to the conclusion that most likely they are not really felt by the companies concerned as a real burden. In relation to the sizes of their business, they are not really peanuts, but they seem to be felt as ‘peanuts’. Moreover the question comes up whether the penalties have already been included in the business prospects in the board rooms concerned. Chances to get caught and to have to pay are not really high, and if so, this was already included in the business plans at the time they were conceived? 


- See more at: 



of a possible distribution of corrupt payments per continent in 2015/6


Lacking detailed facts (researched data for corruption per continent and/or per country) that together could add up to the total of bribes paid globally now, I propose to use the available Kaufmann-data, and recent IMF-data about Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and come with a reasoned alternative for 2015/16 based on three assumptions:


(1)   Equal spread over the globe


Corruption as a socio-economic phenomenon is more or less equally spread over the globe. 

In turn, this means that the roughly 3% found by Daniel Kaufmann as the global average of bribe-paying (US$ one trillion upon a Global Product of US$ 30 trillion) which he established, also is in 2015/16 a valid figure for the world and per continent. If someone wants to argue that difference(s) between continents do exist, he or she will have to explain the what, why and how? Are Europeans on average more or less corrupt than Africans, Asians or Americans? And what proof is there eventually for such differences? Remarkable is anyhow that the World Bank (Dani Kaufmann) did not come herself with these figures per continent or per country. Was this politically not acceptable? Did the Directors of the World Bank not have the freedom to publish, as indeed all of them are appointees of their respective governments which did not feel flattered by this accurate calculation of bribery as done by Kaufmann?


(2)   Direct relation with size of GDP


My second assumption is that the size of corruption per continent in absolute figures relates directly to the size of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product, nominal) of each continent. (Maybe in a next paper I might do some research exercises to get details per country).

This allows me to extrapolate the figure of 3% as found by Dani Kaufmann, see page 15 in this paper the WB-press release of April 8, 2004) for the world, and use this 3% finding, calculating on the basis of IMF-figures for GDP per continent (see below), in order to establish what the total of bribe-paying is per continent in absolute numbers. Is this justifiable? I see no reason to assume that in the relationship between bribe payers and bribe receivers the amounts to be paid would differ per continent.


(3)   Continuity of the 3% share


My third assumption is that the total of Global Product given by Kaufmann for 2002/3 as USD$ 30 trillion and given by IMF for 2016 as US$ 75 trillion, is paralleled by a similar rise of bribe paying globally and per continent, keeping the 3% share.

This would mean that relatively speaking there is no more corruption in the world now as there was at the beginning of this century. It means also that in absolute figures, corruption will have risen. 

Indeed, research findings are presently more abundant. Investigators find more. That they find more does not automatically mean that there is more. But it helps to find more in an economy that has grown considerably if no changes have taken place in the behavior of players in the economy. It may also be that the real numbers of cases and the total of expenditures did not change but that investigators are now much more serious, and that research is better so we book more results and see more prosecutions. If this assumption is followed, in absolute figures corruption would have risen from US$ one trillion to US$ 2.5 trillion.


For the data on global Gross Domestic Product, I turn to the table below: International

Monetary Fund. Retrieved September 28, 2016, 

Reproduced in 


The same source also gives GDP-figures as produced by the World Bank and by the CIA World Fact Book. These two sources present world totals for GDP in 2016 that are considerably lower, respectively US$ 53 and 55 trillion, consequently also all figures for the continents would be about one-third lower, as well the figures as given for global corruption. 



The following list summarizes the GDP (nominal) of each continent as presented by the IMF [for the other sources, go to the websites as indicated]. 

Countries included per continent as is normally done in UN-publications.


List of GDP per continent by the International Monetary Fund(2016) 


GDP (in trillions of US$





North America




South America







0.0 (n.a.)


3% calculation


List of calculated 3% gross corrupt payments in 2016 per continent


3% gross corrupt payments  in US$)

WORLD (3%) 

(total of the rounded figures below)



North America




South America




0.0 (n.a.)


This calculation gives results that are more likely to show what the real size of corrupt payments is per continent than what we can figure it could be, if we follow the rankinglist of TI which shows the poor countries as the meanest ones and the rich ones as the cleanest.


It gives also results which are more likely if we compare the financial possibilities for individual persons and/or their companies in the various continents to have the financial means available to pay. Simply said it will be easier to collect hundreds of millions of corrupt payments in the USA or from US individuals or companies than from African citizens or with African companies and their CEOs.


Still there is the aberration caused by the expatriates, individuals as well as businessentities. 

For instance: if a multinational company headquartered in Europe bribes a government official or politician in Africa, where do we statistically and/or in our administrations count this as ‘bribery’? Adds it up under ‘Europe’ or under ‘Africa’? 


Maybe it helps if we refer to some more data/facts that have become known recently. These data make it unlikely that figures given earlier in this paper present an exaggerated picture of the reality of corruption in economically developed countries.






i Forbes refers here back to the article as published in The Telegraph: This reference has nothing to do with the subject of the Forbes article! See: 

iii             OECD © 2014, OECD  FOREIGN BRIBERY REPORT An analysis of the crime of bribery of foreign public officials, ISBN 978-92-64-22660-9 (print), ISBN 978-92-64-22661-6 (PDF)   http://www.oecd-


iv             Michael Johnston, Syndromes of corruption; wealth, power, and democracy, Cambridge University Press, November 2005, XIII en 267 p., ISBN-13 978-0-521-85334-7 hardback en  61859-5 paperback, en ISBN-10 0-521-85334-6 hardback/ 61859-2 paperback. 

For more information, see

See also: Justitiële Verkenningen van WODC – Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum van het ministerie van Justitie, nr. 7/05, jrg. 31, nr. 7 2005, ‘Ambtelijke corruptie’.

v              From the  ‘Transparency International gives voice to the victims and witnesses of corruption. We work together with governments, businesses and citizens to stop the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals. As a global movement with one vision, we want a world free of corruption. Through chapters in more than 100 countries and an international secretariat in Berlin, we are leading the fight against corruption to turn this vision into reality’.  vi, Magazine voor juristen, interview Prof. dr. M.A.P. Bovens: ’Volledig integer bestaat niet’.  vii Kaufmann, Daniel, Corruption: The facts (this article originally appeared in the Summer 1997 edition of Foreign Policy). In this early anticorruption paper he tries to answer some important questions as are: is corruption good, bad, or irrelevant for economic growth? Are market-oriented reforms a cure for or a cause of corruption? Should an economy achieve a certain level of affluence before widespread corruption can be contained? What does the most recent research and data reveal about possible answers to these questions?


viii See → page 2 in ix He holds now a professorship in economic theory at the University of Passau, Germany, since 2003.  See → xTom Cardamone 


xii  Eurobarometer, special Corruption, no. 397, published February 2014, the previous report was from

2011. See → Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. See more at: 




Dr. Michel van Hulten Postal address:  Buitenplaats 49

8212AB Lelystad

The Netherlands