Germany ‘more corrupt than thought’

Germany 'more corrupt than thought'
Photo: DPA
Though a new survey of perceptions of corruption in countries around the world rates Germany rather well – 14th out of 183 countries – anti-graft group Transparency International says country still has much work to do.

The annual survey by the Berlin-based non-governmental organization placed Germany above well-developed countries like the United States, Austria and Belgium.

But Christian Humborg, the managing director of Transparency’s Germany branch, pointed out that the country’s position hadn’t improved much in recent years. In 2010, Germany was ranked 15th and the year before was ranked 14th in the index. It has consistently ranked in the middle of the pack among European countries and well below Canada and Singapore.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in Germany,” Humborg told The Local.

Humborg said Germany most urgently needs to address widespread perceptions that political parties and politicians place themselves open to corruption.

Under German law, companies can sponsor political parties and even set up stands at party events, he said. Though party financing scandals in recent years have resulted in more regulation and greater transparency, the company sponsorships can create the perception that companies can curry favour with politicians, he said.

“There hasn’t been anything happened for the last years to look at this issue,” he complained.

Humborg also said that Germany should immediately ratify its accession to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which obliges states to put in place specific and detailed safeguards against corruption.

Although Germany has provisionally signed the convention, the fact that it has not yet ratified – meaning it is not legally bound by its provisions – puts it in dubious company with countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria and North Korea. In Europe the Czech Republic is the only other country other country that has not yet ratified the convention.

Humborg said Bundestag members are worried that if the treaty is ratified there could be more anti-bribery investigations launched against them, leading to damaged reputations if charges are later proven false.

“It seems other countries haven’t had this problem, so those worries don’t make a lot of sense,” Humborg said.

Moises Mendoza

[email protected]

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