The United Kingdom has returned its worst ever position in the latest edition of Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), revealing that cracks are starting to appear in the country's previously good standing.

The 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has shown that most countries are failing in their attempts to stop corruption.

With the UK in mind, the slide in its ranking is particularly worrying as the nation has steadily fallen from 7th place in 2016, to 11th in 2021, to a low point of 18th in the most recent index.

The UK’s fall, and the underlying data behind it, indicates that the business world and financial experts are becoming increasingly concerned about insufficient controls on the abuse of public office and now view corruption and bribery as a growing issue.

This is the strongest signal yet that slipping standards are being noticed on the world stage.

How the Corruption Perceptions Index is calculated

Compiled by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, the index ranks 180 countries and territories according to the perceived levels of public sector corruption determined by businesspeople and experts in the field of corruption.

Each country’s score is a combination of at least 3 data sources drawn from 13 different corruption surveys and assessments, which are collected by a wide variety of reputable institutions, including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

To determine the eventual scoring and ranking, it uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

What’s behind the UK’s CPI fall?

The UK’s score was based on data from eight independent sources compiled between November 2019 and October 2022.

These included the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Economic Forum, who all surveyed experts and businesspeople for their views on abuses of public office for private gain and bribery in the country.

It revealed that the UK experienced a sharp drop of 5 points from 78 to 73, resulting in its slide to 18th place on the list.

Numerous factors have dented the perception of the UK’s corruption standing, of which four are most noteworthy.

1. Cronyism driving PPE contract awards

An cross-party committee called into question the decision making process associated with the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, finding that it appeared to be politically motivated and that the process was opaque throughout. In one instance, funding was awarded to a town listed as the 535th priority out of 541.

2. Town funding decision process raised suspicions

According to separate research from Transparency International, 20% of the UK’s PPE procurement raised corruption red flags, with clear signs that the decision-making process was “systemically biased in favour of those with connections to the party of government.”

3. Dozens of ministerial code breaches not investigated

Over 40 ministerial code breaches went uninvestigated, going back five years. These breaches include “a cabinet minister and a junior minister approving bids from each other’s constituencies for money from the £3.6bn Towns Fund” and “holding multiple meetings with a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company with no record of what was discussed.”

4. Wealthy donors to the Conservative party subsequently given a place in the House of Lords

An investigation revealed that wealthy individuals who donated at least £3 million to the Conservative party and took on a temporary role as the party treasurer commonly went on to be awarded a place in the House of Lords.

“This sharp rise in the UK’s score is a powerful indictment of a recent decline in standards in government and controls over the use of taxpayer money. These findings should set alarm bells ringing in Downing Street. The underlying data clearly indicate that business executives and other experts are concerned about insufficient controls on the abuse of public office and increasingly view corruption and bribery as a real issue in Britain. This is the strongest signal yet that slipping standards are being noticed on the world stage.”

~ Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK

How the UK can stop the slide

Reputations built up over decades can be all too easily eroded in a short timeframe. In the UK’s case, it is not merely the corruption that has taken place in the corridors of power, but the lack of an effective watchdog or check on such malfeasance.

In order to stop the slide and restore its place in the CPI’s top 10, Transparency International has outlined three steps for the UK government to take:

  1. Support the Public Service Bill, to improve standards in government.
  2. Devise an anti-corruption strategy, appoint an anti-corruption watchdog, and implement meaningful measures to meet the UK’s G7 anti-corruption commitment.
  3. Create total transparency in the public procurement process including much stronger scrutiny and time limits on government emergency powers to award contracts.

Why the Corruption Perception Index matters

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has long recommended taking a risk-based approach to combating money laundering and terrorist financing. This requires that every organisation identifies, assesses, and subsequently understands the money laundering and terrorist financing risks to which they are exposed, and take the appropriate mitigation measures in accordance with the level of risk.

One of the key factors in assessing the risk associated with an individual entity is their country of origin or where they conduct their business. As a result, the level of corruption associated with a country, whether real or perceived, will have a direct affect on the overall risk rating of a client and how much due diligence is subsequently required.

Which is why the RiskScreen platform applies a unique 3D risk-based approach to the filtering and prioritisation of all results. As well helping you to identify potential risk, our technology enables you to effectively reduce false positives by up to 95% while ensuring that you never miss a true match.

The fact is that different risk levels require different processes, which is why our intuitive onboarding and screening solutions enable you to pre-set screening parameters based on a customer’s risk scoring, enabling you to streamline your compliance operations while ensuring risk-based procedures are always being adhered to.

To discover how our world leading automated technology can help mitigate risk and improve operational efficiency when screening and onboarding customers, request a discovery call today.


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