Transparency International

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Rooting out seen and unseen corruption | 

A dapper Teodorin Obiang emerges from his luxury car.
A dapper Teodorin Obiang emerges from his luxury car.
AFP

Nine cars were sold off at an auction in Paris raising $3.6 million. Luxury names took the stage including Porche, Bugatti and Bentley.

The owner: Teodorin Obiang, son of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodor Obiang. The cars were seized in 2011 when the younger Obiang was charged with embezzling public funds in France to buy real estate in Paris.

It is quite the collection for someone who earned an official salary of $7,000 a month during that time. He has also managed to purchase a $30 million home in Malibu and liberated an €18 million art collection from the walls of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

The money comes largely from the oil that the country produces. The sale of oil makes it way into the smooth rides and stylish suits worn by the Obiang family.

Corruption may feel like a problem in a far off nation, but it is much closer to home than one expects, says Global Witness co-founder Charmain Gooch.

“Corruption is made possible by the actions of global facilitators,” says Gooch. Continue reading

How open and democratic is your country? Corruption Index 2012 | 

The Guardian has published a nice interactive graphic of Transparency International’s Corruption Index 2012.

The United States, which was ranked slightly above average at 19, has improved a bit while countries like Bangladesh and Gambia have plummeted. Syria and Egypt did not score well, unsurprisingly, along with the usual suspects with dysfunctional governments. China also seems to have a corruption problem, Voice of America noted. Here’s a report on this new index by the Washington Post as well.

A caveat: When talking about corruption, I always remember what a Nigerian friend told me once: “In Nigeria, we can see our problem with corruption. In the United States, it is so large and institutionalized you Americans don’t see it.” (See this story re Dick Cheney and oil companies, for example. Didn’t get much US media coverage …. )

New Zealand was top ranked as were a number of those Northern European countries we’re used to seeing ranked high in almost everything. Damn socialists. (Below is just screen grab. Go to link for interactive map.)

The Guardian

Do you know about Transparency International, the story of John Githongo and his fight against corruption in Kenya? It shows the blood, guts and heart behind this index. The Guardian explains it’s use:

The index, which is closely watched by investors, economists, and civil society campaigners, is based on expert assessments and data from 13 surveys from independent institutions, covering issues such as access to information, bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, and the enforcement of anti-corruption laws. While critics note that measuring perceptions of corruption is not the same as measuring corruption itself, the latter is almost impossible to do – as the corrupt are usually keen to cover up their tracks, hard data on graft and bribery is notoriously difficult to come by.