Press release 29th Jan 2019

Anti-Corruption watchdog warns UK government about early warning signals on corruption

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29th January 2019, London – The UK’s ranking in Transparency International’s (TI) annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has fallen from 8th to 11th place – although this is attributed to a marginal drop in the score of two points that TI’s experts state is ‘not statistically significant when taking a single year’s results in isolation’.

Despite the UK seeing one of the biggest overall increases from 2012 this is the first time since that the UK has gone down in the index and the lowest score since the UK hosted its global Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016.

Globally more countries declined (65) than improved (60) and the majority of those that did increase did so only by a small margin. One of the biggest declines is the United States which fell from 16th in 2017 to 22nd this year, decreasing its score from 75 to 71. Azerbaijan, the home country of the first ever Unexplained Wealth Order recipient, had the largest fall dropping 30 places to 152nd.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is Transparency International’s flagship publication and analyses perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories.

Robert Barrington, Executive Director at Transparency International UK, said:

“A number of themes from this year’s index will serve as an important warning to the UK against complacency in tackling corruption, not least with the prospect of post-Brexit pressure to lower standards. Scandals in this past year such as an MP being found guilty of taking undeclared holidays paid for by a foreign state, as well as serious questions over the provenance of money used in the EU referendum, should send an early warning signal to the government – but we are not sure they are listening.”

“The UK has in the past been rightly proud of the improvement in its CPI score, but fighting corruption involves constant vigilance and not just one-off initiatives. The substantial fall in score of the US also demonstrates what can go wrong and how quickly when governments in mature democracies become complacent over corruption. The score from Brazil, and other ‘strong-men’ countries, suggests when corruption is not properly addressed it can become a rallying call for populist voices who use the language of fighting corruption to get elected but have no serious intention to tackle it.”

“We also note the huge fall in rankings of Azerbaijan whose President was in the UK just last year meeting with the British Prime Minister and who’s ruling family own a number of UK -based assets. Although hosting corrupt kleptocrats in London does not affect the score on this index of public sector corruption, the UK government should be aware of the detrimental impact it has on the UK’s international standing.” 



  • The Corruption Perceptions Index takes into account perceptions of corruption in the public sector and as such other forms of corruption like money laundering scandals and bribery in the private sector are not captured by this index. However, it is widely used as the most authoritative picture of global corruption