Transparency International

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Transparency International
The Global Coalition Against Corruption
Abbreviation TI
Formation 1993 (1993)
Purpose Anti-Corruption
Headquarters Berlin, Germany
  • Alt-Moabit 96
    10559 Berlin, Germany
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Region served
Huguette Labelle
Managing Director
Cobus de Swardt
Key people
Peter Eigen

Transparency International (TI) is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. Originally founded in Germany in May 1993 as a not-for-profit organization, Transparency International is now an international non-governmental organization. It publishes an annual Global Corruption Barometer, Corruption Perceptions Index, and Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (a global listing of corruption in the world's defence sectors). The headquarters are located in Berlin, Germany.[1] According to the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), TI is number 5 (of 100) in the "Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-U.S.)" and number 13 (of 150) in the "Top Think Tanks Worldwide (U.S. and non-U.S.)".[2]

The organization defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain which eventually hurts everyone who depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.[3]

Transparency International consists of chapters – locally established, independent organisations – that address corruption in their respective countries. From small bribes to large-scale looting, corruption differs from country to country. As chapters are staffed with local experts they are ideally placed to determine the priorities and approaches best suited to tackling corruption in their countries. This work ranges from visiting rural communities to provide free legal support to advising their government on policy reform. Corruption does not stop at national borders. The chapters play a crucial role in shaping its collective work and realising its regional and global goals, such as Strategy 2015. Transparency International’s multi-country research and advocacy initiatives are driven by the chapters.

In 2013 Transparency International published the Government Defence Anti-corruption Index with which corruption in the defence sector of 82 countries was measured.[4] Some governments expressed criticism towards the methodology of the report. Mark Pyman defended the report in an interview and stressed the importance of transparency in the military sector. The plan is to publish the index every two years.[5]


Transparency International's headquarters in Berlin (5th floor)

Transparency International was founded in May 1993. According to political scientist Ellen Gutterman, “TI’s presence in Germany, and indeed its organizational development and rise from a small operation to a prominent international TNGO, benefited from the activities and personal, elite connections of at least three key German individuals: Peter Eigen, Hansjoerg Elshorst, and Michael Wiehen”.[6]

Peter Eigen, a former regional director for the World Bank, is recognized as the founder.[6] Michael Wiehen was a World Bank official at Washington, D.C..[7] Hansjörg Elshorst was managing director of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) (German Agency for Technical Cooperation). Other founding board members included John Githongo (former Permanent Secretary for Ethics and Governance in the office of the President, Kenya),[8] General Electric lawyer Fritz Heimann,[9] Michael J. Hershman of the U.S. military intelligence establishment (now President and CEO of the Fairfax Group),[10] Kamal Hossain (Bangladesh’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs),[8] Dolores L. Español (the Philippines’ former presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court),[8] George Moody Stuart (sugar industrialist),[11] Gerald Parfitt (Coopers & Lybrand, then PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ukraine),[12] Jeremy Pope (New Zealand activist and writer), and Frank Vogl, a senior official at the World Bank and head of Vogl Communications, Inc., which has "provided advice to leaders of international finance".[13][14][15][16][17]

In 1995, Transparency International developed the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI ranked nations on the prevalence of corruption within each country, based upon surveys of business people. The CPI was subsequently published annually. It was criticized for poor methodology and unfair treatment of developing nations, while also being praised for highlighting corruption and embarrassing governments.[18]

In 1999, Transparency International began publishing the Bribe Payers Index (BPI) which ranked nations according to the prevalence that a country's multinational corporations would offer bribes.[18]


Transparency International consists of over 100 locally established, independent national chapters as well as an EU liaison office in Brussels, Belgium and an international secretariat in Berlin, Germany. Each chapter tackles corruption in their respective country, constructing methods relevant to their national context in order to bring about change. The secretariat provides support and cooperation among chapters, as well as collaborating with these chapters in order to approach corruption on a global and regional scale.[1] Currently there are TI National Chapters in the following countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia (FYR), Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritus, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Yemen.

According to its 2012 Annual Report, it is funded by western governments (with almost €5 million from the UK government) and several multinational companies, including oil companies Exxon Mobil and Shell, hedge funds KKR and Wermuth Asset Management, Deloitte and Ernst & Young.[19]


Transparency International states:

Transparency International is the global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption. It brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world. TI's mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption.

Since 1995, Transparency International has issued an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI); it also publishes a Global Corruption Report, a Global Corruption Barometer and a Bribe Payers Index.

Transparency International does not undertake investigations on single cases of corruption or expose individual cases. It develops tools for fighting corruption and works with other civil society organizations, companies and governments to implement them.

Corruption Perceptions Index

Competitiveness and corruption. Presented at the workshop Corruption – how and why to avoid it in Prague, November 1998

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. It is a composite index – a combination of polls – drawing on corruption-related data collected by a variety of reputable institutions. The CPI reflects the views of observers from around the world.[20]

The Corruption Perceptions Index has received criticisms over the years. The main one stems from the difficulty in measuring corruption, which by definition happens behind the scenes. The Corruption Perceptions Index therefore needs to rely on third-party survey which have been criticized as potentially unreliable. Data can vary widely depending on the public perception of a country, the completeness of the surveys and the methodology used. The second issue is that data cannot be compared from year to year because Transparency International uses different methodologies and samples every year. This makes it difficult to evaluate the result of new policies.[21] The Corruption Perceptions Index authors replied to these criticisms by reminding that the Corruption Perceptions Index is meant to measure perception and not "reality". They argue that "perceptions matter in their own right, since... firms and individuals take actions based on perceptions".[22]

Criticism of Transparency International

Competition with OECD's anti-bribery activities in the 1990s

1. OECD convention - the "active" corruption of the EC becomes the target

A major point of criticism in the early stages of TI was the conservative corruption combating philosophy of the association. As the OECD at the behest of the United States in 1989 put the issue of "international corruption" on its agenda, and called into being a corresponding "Working Group" it planned to initiate for its member states a "Recommendation on Combating Bribery in International Business Transactions" along with the creation of the European single market (Maastricht Treaty 1993).[23][24] Even then, it was the OECD's idea, to fight corruption against the resistance of the involved at its sources. In the future corruption against other states should be treated legally equally with domestic corruption in the donors' countries. This would have been a significant limitation in the entrepreneurial freedom of European corporations and needed an adequate response. While the OECD Convention hence, called to combat in particular the well-known huge bribe sources in the highly developed exporting countries,[24] in contrary "Transparency International", newly established by a former World Bank director (Peter Eigen) and the German development aid policy (GTZ), advocated exactly the opposite approach. Despite existing knowledge gained from their development aid to East Africa TI recommended to evaluate and combat corruption only in the acceptors' countries, but not at its sources in Europe.

2. Shadow economy - a swelling source of bribe money

Shadow economy in (West-) Germany 1975-2015. Shadow economy data from Friedrich Schneider, University Linz.[25][26]

Interestingly, in the same legislative period (1991-1994) where "Transparency International" was established, the Bonn Parliament discussed extremely controversially whether, according to German law, corruption against foreign officials shall be ranked as a criminal offense, or shall be treated as a tax-deductible operating expenditure of an enterprise.[27][28][29] Taking in consideration the enhanced German-French race during the 1980s for new markets in the EEC "Southern Enlargement", the then Kohl administration decided against the OECD recommendations and instead for the co-financing of foreign corruption through tax abatement[28] (§ 4 chapter 5 no. 10 Income Tax Act, valid until 19 March 1999). At about the same time, German private industry, unmolested by the largely paralysed financial authorities, began to systematically increase their black money quotas.[26] Consequently, TI proposed the controversial Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI ) founded by Johann Graf Lambsdorff in 1995, as a possible rating scale for corruption. However, the CPI is limited to one side, that of the bribe acceptors, and does not also include rich bribe sources from huge shadow economies in Europe. As a result, after linear increase during two decades until the introduction of the EURO, today German corruption has come to rely on an annual underground economy of 350 billion €. (see diagram on the right)

3. The CPI - a tendentious tool of the "actives"?

A thus triggered controversy between critics and supporters of the since then frequently cited CPI was in the focus of numerous critical essays until now. E. g. Yuliya V. Tverdova demonstrated 2012 in a comparative study ("Perceptions or Experiences: Using Alternative Corruption Measures in a multi-level Study of Political Support", University of California, Irvine) misinterpretations of the CPI, also by TI experts, to "numerous concerns ranging ... to systematic biases in the expert estimates", and characterized the CPI as prejudiced and "poll of polls that draws on multiple sources of elite and mass opinions."[30]

Later though, TI aligned with OECD, by publishing 1999 for the first time the likewise controversial "Bribe Payers Index" (BPI). However, it took years before the OECD Convention was signed and ratified by the parliaments and ultimately transposed into practice in all states. Therefore, those practices have been pursued by law not before 2003 in the exporting countries. Only then TI spoke openly of a "network of corruption"[31] and particularly accuse masterminds in the bribe donor countries. By the way, just in 2004, the first and only Olympiade (2000-2004) on the EU internal market ended up. Now the German shadow economy could begin to gently reduce its skyrocketing.[26]

Accepting funding from Siemens

It was reported in January 2015 that Transparency International accepted a $3 million donation from Munich-based engineering multinational from Siemens. The money was from a fund that Siemens established after settling a corruption case with the World Bank in 2009. Transparency International accepted the money from Siemens even though TI's due diligence procedures prohibit taking money from corporations seeking to greenwash their reputations. Siemens gave the money to TI one year after the head of TI's EU office in Brussels went to work for Siemens, in the same division that decides which organizations should receive money from the fund.[32][33]

Refusal to support Edward Snowden

It was reported in January 2014 that Transparency International passed over a proposed resolution to call for "a comprehensive protection on whistleblowers from all forms of retaliation",[34] and specifically to support mass-surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden. The proposed resolution said, “He should be recognized as a whistleblower for his help to reveal the over-reaching and unlawful surveillance by secret services. He should be able to freely choose where he wants to live. Edward J. Snowden is not alone in his actions. He symbolizes the courage of numerous other whistleblowers around the world.” Instead, TI passed a resolution that supports whistleblowers but does not mention Snowden's name.[35][34]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Transparency International e.V. "Our Organisation – overview".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. James G. McGann (Director) (February 4, 2015). "2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". Retrieved February 14, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Other "Top Think Tank" rankings include #7 (of 80) in Top Think Tanks in Western Europe, #13 (of 85) in Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks, #1 (of 40) in Transparency and Good Governance Think Tanks, #2 (of 75) for Best Advocacy Campaign, #42 (of 65) for Best Managed Think Tanks, #10 (of 60) for Best Use of Social Networks, #8 (of 60) of Think Tanks with the Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program, #4 (of 40) for Best Use of the Internet, #9 (of 40) for Best Use of Media, and #10 (of 70) for the Most Significant Impact on Public Policy, #8 (of 60) of Think Tanks with Outstanding Policy-Oriented Public Programs.
  3. Transparency International e.V. "Transparency International – What we do".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Government Defence Anti-corruption Index". Transparency International. 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Mark Pyman (March 2013). "Transparency is feasible".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ellen Gutterman (June 2012). "The Legitimacy of Transnational NGOs: Lessons from the Experience of Transparency International in Germany and France (PDF)" (PDF). Paper submitted to the 84th annual conference of the Canadian Political Science Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Michael Wiehen - Partnership for Transparency Fund".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Advisory Council".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Biography of Fritz F. Heimann - Center for Ethics & World Societies - Colgate University
  10. "Senior Division Leaders: Michael J. Hershman". Fairfax Group.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "George Moody Stuart obituary". The Times. November 24, 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Group DF".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Biography of Frank Vogl - Huffington Post
  15. Transparency International(TI), International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities
  16. Hicks, Bill (2010). "Transparency International". Missing or empty |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Larmour, Peter (September 2006). Bowden, Brett, ed. Global standards of market civilization. Routledge. pp. 95–106. ISBN 0-415-37545-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Chaikin, David (June 2009). Corruption and money laundering: a symbiotic relationship. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-230-61360-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Transparency International e.V. "2012 Corruption Perceptions Index – In detail".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "A Users' Guide to Measuring Corruption". Global Integrity & UNDP.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Uslaner, Eric M. (2008). Corruption, inequality, and the rule of law: the bulging pocket makes the easy life. Cambridge University Press. pp. 11–17. ISBN 0-521-87489-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. 24.0 24.1
  25. see page 19 of power point presentation
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 "• Schattenwirtschaft - Umfang in Deutschland bis 2015 - Statistik". Statista.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Abschaffung der steuerlichen Absetzbarkeit von Bestechungs- und Schmiergeldern, 3. Januar 1993, Drucksache 12/4104
  28. 28.0 28.1 Abschaffung der steuerlichen Absetzbarkeit von Bestechungs- und Schmiergeldern, 08.09.94 Drucksache 12/8468
  29. Maßnahmen gegen Korruption, 17. 02. 95, Drucksache 13/617
  30. Using Alternative Corruption Measures,
  31. Eigen (2003), Das Netz der Korruption, S. 35.
  32. "Siemens Donates $3 Million to Transparency International". Corporate Crime Reporter.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "Transparency International Siemens Revolving Door Spins, Money Pipeline Flows". Corporate Crime Reporter.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. 34.0 34.1 Russell Mokhiber (February 2014). "Transparency International Nixes Edward Snowden". The Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Transparency International calls for greater whistleblower protection and oversight of government surveillance (press release 10 November 2013)

External links