Aiming to be corruption-free: Switzerland ranks among the top 10 least corrupt countries in the world. Yet, says global watchdog Transparency Switzerland, steps can be taken to weed out the flaw all together.

AuteurSethi, Aradhna
Fonction Feature

According to the latest data, businessmen, academics and analysts have allotted Finland and Iceland the top position as being the world's least corrupt countries. After falling behind to the 12th position earlier on, Switzerland has been ranked eighth this year in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International (TI)--a non-government organisation, with its branches spread across many regions worldwide.

Though the climb marks a reduction in corruption levels, the difference is not significant enough to confirm a decrease in the number of cases of corruption and bribery. In addition, a recent survey by Transparency International showed that some 80 per cent of the Swiss felt a strong impact of corruption in their lives.

Areas of Corruption

Philippe Levy, Chairman of Transparency International Switzerland believes that while corruption is not widespread. there still is room for improvement. When asked what are the kinds of corruption cases that come to light most often, he says, "Well, we have reviewed corruption in Switzerland. We have cases where Swiss individuals or companies have bribed officials abroad, but no cases yet to show the reverse, wherein foreign companies have bribed Swiss officials. We appeal to the people to report any such cases to us. These cases might exist but we have no proof for the time being. Also, recently, a Swiss attorney was arrested in Korea on being involved in a corruption case of an American company in Asia."

He continues, "Pockets of corruption ... well, that's very difficult to answer. You see, we've had a number of cases over the last few years covering various sectors. But then this list is based on the knowledge we got through the press. We can't really state clearly which sector has reported the maximum number of cases. In fact, according to a research, some 40 cases go to court every year, but experts say that this could be just 5 per cent of the total number of corruption cases and the other 95 per cent may go unreported."

A report published early 2003 suggested that the Swiss, being a small and a fairly well-knit society, often tends to work hand-in-glove with others in the same or associated businesses. This sometimes leads to low levels or even a complete lack of healthy competition. But are any of such "arrangements" considered illegal or corrupt? Says Levy, "In case there is a form of corruption, this is what we call corruption among private people. This is also forbidden according to Swiss law, but in such cases, the law is unfortunately very weak. However, Switzerland is preparing a ratification of the Council of Europe Convention', which it signed three years ago. What this will bring is coverage of corruption among private people. The...

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