Switzerland falls from third to seventh in Corruption Perceptions Index

Switzerland falls from third to seventh in Corruption Perceptions Index

In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index, Switzerland has slipped from third to seventh place, by scoring one point less than in 2020. The index highlighted the Swiss government and international companies as being vulnerable to corruption, despite the country's high score.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2021

The Corruption (or Corruptions) Perceptions Index by Transparency International assesses countries according to their “perceived vulnerability to corruption.” Rather than focusing on actual corruption cases, countries are given a rating of how corrupt they are perceived to be. This is calculated by using data from 13 independent sources like the World Bank and World Economic Forum, as well as speaking to entrepreneurs and experts in the field.

Switzerland scored one point less in 2021 than in 2020, receiving its worst points tally since 2012. The Director of Transparency International Switzerland, Martin Hilti, said, “In the fight against corruption in the public sector, Switzerland is once again far from faultless and is even being outperformed by other countries.”

Public sector in Switzerland vulnerable to corruption

Of key concern for Hilti was the vulnerability of the public sector to what he calls “nepotism and frequent failures to recognise clear conflicts of interest.” As an example, he pointed to the Swiss ski resort of Arosa, and how local politicians regularly receive ski passes worth up to 550 Swiss francs for free.

“Switzerland is a small country, we know each other, we went to school together. Men went to national service together… and then, suddenly, they find themselves in the professional context,” he noted. He made the point that the Swiss often lack the knowledge or sensibility to recognise and react to conflicts of interest.

Private sector corruption remains a key worry

This issue extends to the private sector too, which Hilti highlighted as the main area of concern in Switzerland. He claimed that new businesses and smaller companies don’t know what corruption is or how to deal with it, while larger companies struggle to enforce a “zero-tolerance policy.”

Recent scandals involving Swiss companies have shown that Switzerland is not immune to corruption. Hilti made the case that Switzerland has “some sectors with higher risk, such as the whole financial sector,” which are enabled by Swiss businesses that facilitate corruption. While Switzerland ranks highly in perceived corruption, significant vulnerabilities remain.

Best and worst countries for perceived corruption 2021

The ranking for 2021 shows the countries with the lowest perceived corruption, which are:

  1. Denmark (88 points)
  2. Finland (88 points)
  3. New Zealand (88 points)
  4. Norway (85 points)
  5. Singapore (85 points)
  6. Sweden (85 points)
  7. Switzerland (84 points)
  8. The Netherlands (82 points)
  9. Luxembourg (81 points)
  10. Germany (80 points)

The worst countries in the world for perceived corruption were:

  1. South Sudan (11 points)
  2. Syria (13 points)
  3. Somalia (13 points)
  4. Venezuela (14 points)
  5. Yemen (16 points)
  6. North Korea (16 points)
  7. Afghanistan (16 points)
  8. Libya (17 points)
  9. Equatorial Guinea (17 points)
  10. Turkmenistan (19 points)

For more information, check out the Transparency International website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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