[Before turning to the TI Report, I am pleased to share that FCPA Professor has been named a "Top 25 Business Law Blog" by LexisNexis. Voting is open for the top blog, which will be announced on November 3rd. Here is the link to vote. Thank you for your support]
Earlier this week, Transparency International a "global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption" released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index ("CPI") (see here).
As TI's report explains, the CPI "draws on different assessments and business opinion surveys" to compile an index "relating to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts."
In a release TI noted that the "2010 CPI shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption), indicating a serious problem.
The United States scored a 7.1 in the CPI index - 22nd out of 178 countries and below several European countries, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and others. As others have reported (here) "this was the lowest score awarded to the United States in the index's 15-year history and also the first time it had fallen out of the top 20."
In a video release (here) TI's Chair, Hugette Labelle, stated that "corruption remains a serious obstacle and cause for concern" and that a "vital issue remains enforcement without which all the laws in the world will be of little value."
While the CPI may just seem like a bunch of numbers, the index has real-world application as many companies and FCPA compliance professionals calibrate FCPA risk assessment to the CPI.