Transparency International just came out with its 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index. I love these things and I think this one, in particular, tends to be quite accurate. Now I am not saying any of these surveys are completely accurate, because there really is no one great measuring stick for corruption and, even if there were, there is no way to assure accuracy within that measure. What transparency international does is to meld together various existing surveys on corruption and compile those into one meta-list. This year, TI used 13 independent surveys (note that many of the surveys do not cover all of countries) to compile its list of the perceived level of public-sector corruption in each country.
As it typically does in these rankings, China placed in the high-middle.
So without further ado, here are some of the countries that made the list (somewhat randomly selected), from the least corrupt to the most corrupt, with my own comments added to some of them.
I have had many dealings with many of the countries in the top ten and none of those countries seemed the least bit corrupt to me. I suspect (though I do not know) one of the reasons the United States has performed relatively poorly in this ranking is because so many of its state court judges are elected and that is just not a good thing when it comes to perceptions of corruption. I know many lawyers in many states who will do whatever they can (within the law) to get their cases into Federal, not state, court.
I list these two for two reasons. One, though I knew Chile was doing quite well with respect to corruption, I had no idea it was doing this well. I have had very little dealings with Uruguay (I have represented a couple of Uruguayan companies but that was it) and I had no idea it would rank so high.
I list these two because they are the best performers from Eastern Europe.
37.Botswana This is the best performer from Africa. By far.
39. Korea (South)
I list these countries because they are in Asia and they are all pretty relevant to China. I am not surprised by the rankings of Taiwan and South Korea. They seem right to me. I have been doing business in both Taiwan and South Korea for a long long time and during that time, I have seen both countries become better and better in terms of their transparency. Just by way of example, I used to go out to dinner with the Judges and attorneys in Korea when I would go there, but that ceased a few years ago as I understand that practice has become frowned upon.
61. Turkey I list Turkey because I lived there and because we had to pay around $50 to get our phones installed within two weeks, rather than within ten years and because…..
63. Italy I have had very few dealings with Italy, but I have a lawyer-friend from there and he is always telling me horror stories about its court system.
75. Brazil I list Brazil because it is the “B” in BRIC.
79. China This ranking seems about right to me. Pretty much in the high-middle of the pack. China is amazingly not corrupt when it comes to the various aspects of getting a foreign company established there. If I were to rank China as it applies to just foreign companies, I would rank it considerably higher.
84. India I list India because it is the “I” in BRIC.
84. Thailand This ranking seems about right.
106. Argentina I list Argentina because it is a pretty important Latin American country and it ranks pretty low.
These Asian countries perform quite poorly. Vietnam is much like China, however, in that it has worked very hard to make things better for foreign companies.
146. Russia is the “R” in BRIC. My firm’s personnel have been doing considerable business in Russia since before the fall of communism there and I have not detected any real improvement in corruption there during that time. It has always been downright terrible.
What are you seeing out there?