Transparency International is a non-profit anti-corruption organization headquartered on Berlin that operates internationally. Its purpose is to combat corruption and criminal activities related to corrupt acts.
On February 1, 2023, it published the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) . Published annually since 1995, it considers 180 countries, in which, as can be seen in the world map above, yellow portions are less corrupt and darker red portions represent more corrupt countries.
The Index considers how public sectors from 180 countries (as of writing) are viewed by specialists and executives and not by the general public. It is prepared by analyzing data from 13 different data sources, the production of which is not influenced or manipulated by Transparency International. As such, data produced by the World Bank and by the World Economic Forum is considered, as well as data prepared by risk analysis companies and by companies that play an advocacy role for public policies, producing knowledge on political, economic, or scientific topics. Transparency International actually standardizes the scores, as their metrics may differ from country to country. Then, the standardization ranges from 0 to 100, and the calculation is carried out for each of country.
The 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index shows that 124 countries have stagnated in their corruption levels, while the number of countries in decline is increasing, which is highly worrying, as corruption and armed conflicts are very much related.
The ranking of all countries can be seen in the images below:
Over the past five years, only eight countries have significantly improved their scores, and ten countries have significantly deteriorated, including countries with good rankings such as Austria, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom. The rest (90% of countries) stagnated in their corruption levels.
The following are the countries with the biggest changes:
While Denmark (90 points), Finland and New Zealand (87 points), followed by Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland (tied with Luxembourg with 77 points) make up the ranking’s top 10 positions, Somalia (12 points), Syria and South Sudan (13 points), followed by Venezuela, Yemen, Libya, North Korea, Haiti, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi and Turkmenistan (19 points), are in the ranking's bottom positions.
In South America, Uruguay continues to lead the ranking with 74 points, followed by Chile, with 67 points… and that's it! Other South American countries, including Brazil, are doing very poorly, with scores ranging from 30 to 40, except for Paraguay with 28 points and Venezuela, which has only 14 points.
The mediocre performance of the South American continent can be seen by taking into account the global average of 43 points. Out of every South American country, only Uruguay and Chile stand out.
Brazil's score was identical to that of 2020 and 2021, i.e., 38 points. The table below clearly shows the evolution of the Brazilian CPI over time:
Brazil’s score timeline since 2012:
Between 2012 and 2022, Brazil lost five points and dropped 25 positions, moving from 69th to 94th place. The 38 points achieved by the country in 2022 represent a poor performance and place it below the global average (43 points), the regional average for Latin America and the Caribbean (43 points), the BRICS average (39 points) and even further away from average of G20 countries (53 points) and OECD (66 points).
When publishing the 2021 CPI, Transparency International had created an informative report, which tried to establish the pros and cons, substantiating the country's stagnation in the fight against corruption and deserves a read:
1. The Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) and the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) functioned as an important shield against anti-democratic undertakings by President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies, defending the Brazilian electoral system and acting against disinformation and attacks on institutions;
2. STF performance ensuring Covid-19 pandemic control policies obstructed by ineffectiveness and denialism in the Brazilian government management;
3. The Covid-19 Parliamentary Committee of Investigation was able to extensively investigate and document corruption and other serious crimes attributed to public and private agents in the context of the pandemic, which maximized the humanitarian tragedy in Brazil;
4. Submission of a bill to regulate lobbying by the Brazilian Government to the Congress;
5. Actions by the Brazilian Strategy to Combat Corruption and Money Laundering (ENCCLA) setting obligations to prevent money laundering related to wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and livestock laundering, as well as and to improve gold traceability and combat illegal mining;
6. Congress approved a project, already sanctioned by President Bolsonaro, which ends the secrecy of corporate tax waivers and incentives;
7. Even under frequent attacks by President Bolsonaro and his allies, the Brazilian press played a crucial role in revealing corruption schemes in the context of the pandemic and political use of “secret budget” funds.
1. Serious setback in the Government Budget transparency through its alliance with the congress block known for cronyism in the scheme known as “secret budget”, involving the distribution of billions of Brazilian reais without transparency and control mechanisms;
2. Macro-corruption schemes in the Ministry of Health, as disclosed by the press and by the Parliamentary Committee of Investigation, in the context of the humanitarian tragedy of Covid-19;
3. Political cooption of the Brazilian Federal Police and serious interference over state control and intelligence agencies (Federal Revenue Office, COAF, Abin, DRCI/MJSP, CGU);
4. President Bolsonaro's direct attacks against electoral institutions and threats to the Brazilian Supreme Court and its members seriously raising the risk of democratic rupture;
5. A series of decisions that voided sentences confirmed by multiple courts or transferred the jurisdiction to judge cases of corruption in a generalized manner, causing legal uncertainty, crimes to be time-barred, and impunity for cases of macro corruption with serious consequences for human rights;
6. Sharp decline in transparency, participation, and respect for due legislative process in the Brazilian House of Representatives under the presidency of Arthur Lira;
7. Reform of the Administrative Corruption Statute, approved by the Brazilian Congress and sanctioned by President Bolsonaro, which extrapolated the recommendations by the experts who proposed improvements to the legislation and seriously increased the risks of impunity;
8. Systematic alignment of the Federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) with the Bolsonaro's administration, with unprecedented retraction in the function of government constitutional control acts and demobilization of the fight against macro corruption;
9. Dismantling of public policies and environmental governance system, generating suspension of fines, harassment of agents, impunity for environmental crimes related to corruption, and record deforestation rates in the Amazon;
10. Continued deterioration of civic space, with the dismantling of institutionalized participation mechanisms, setbacks in transparency and access to public information, systematic dissemination of fake news by public agents and channels, in addition to serious attacks on the press, and strong indications of illegal monitoring of citizens.
This report prepared by Transparency International is worth reading, as it is not limited to criticism, but makes recommendations for the Brazilian Government, the Brazilian Congress, as well as its Judiciary Branch and the Prosecution Office. Naturally, each of them plays a crucial role in combating corruption and the changes to make life more difficult for the corrupt and corrupter depend on them.