Transparency International

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Transparency International (TI) is an NGO operating under the slogan "fighting corruption worldwide"[1]. The organisation's stated mission is "the relief of poverty, suffering and distress in any part of the world caused directly or indirectly by corruption", "the promotion, for the public benefit, of ethical standards of conduct and compliance with the law by the public and private sectors in international and domestic business transactions and overseas development initiatives", and "increasing awareness of corruption and its effects through communication initiatives to the wider public and active engagement with our membership"[2].

However, investigative journalist Greg Palast says, "Transparency International is itself a corrupted organization - a kind of bribery cartel".[3]

Writing in The Guardian, Calvin Tucker describes the tension between the media perception and funding of Transparency International. He argues:

The international corporate media considers TI to be a reliable source, despite the fact that almost all their funding comes from western governments and big business. The British government is one of the major donors, contributing £1 million in 2007. Other donors include the US government, Shell and ExxonMobil.[4]

Tranparency International's roots can be found in the World Bank. The NGO was founded by Peter Eigen formerly of the world bank and TI operate in a similar way. Criticising the World Bank George Monbiot highlights the way that neoliberal considerations form the basis of their lending, he says:

"The recipient countries can request whatever they want as long as it’s neoliberalism.[5]"

Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) follows a similar ideology. The CPI seeks to find the problem of corruption amongst the governments of developing nations. This can be seen by looking at the CPI which highlights high levels of corruption amongst the poorest countries and low levels of corruption among the richest. This reinforces the dogma that poor countries have themselves to blame for the predicament they are in. This neoliberal perspective held by the World Bank and reinforced by Transparency International through the CPI makes it easier to place conditions on any money lent out to the worlds poorest nations.


Transparency International was founded in 1993 by the former World Bank official Peter Eigen along with Michael Hershman, Jeremy Pope, Laurence Cockcroft, Joe Githongo, Michael Hershman, Kamal Hossein, and Frank Vogl[6]. Founding member Jeremy Pope described in an interview the emergence of an idea "that a group could organise to campaign against corruption on the part of the rich multinationals in the North as one way of helping the South with the problem that it was experiencing"[7].

Jeremy Pope traces the early sources of funding for TI when he says "the initial money was provided by the Rowntree Foundation, and the Nuffield Foundation. The German development agency guaranteed their rent, and then, the Ford Foundation came in. "Finally, what really made TI was when USAID came with about $3 million. At that stage, I decided I didn't want to manage this thing anymore."[8].

According to Jeremy Pope the World Bank dismissed corruption as a political issue and refused to broach the topic until James Wolfenson became the president of the organisation. Pope describes this example of a shift in policy towards corruption as important because "One of our missions in TI was to reverse the policies of the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme and so on, on the corruption issue and very quickly, we’ve achieved them. It was really quite phenomenal. We thought it might take about 10 years and it had taken months rather than years."[9].


Corruption Perceptions Index 2006 by Transparency International.

Transparency International publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which according to Jeremy Pope, "was developed because journalists kept asking, "Who were the worst countries? Who were the best?"[10]. TI operates a series of five programmes each tackling corruption in a different area. TI describes the programmes as follows:

  • Programme 1 - Corruption in the Infrastructure, Construction and Engineering Sector
  • Programme 2 - Defence Against Corruption
  • Programme 3 - UK Anti-Corruption Strategy and Implementation of International Conventions
  • Programme 4 - Domestic Corruption and Reform of Corruption Law
  • Programme 5 - Increasing Awareness of the Impacts of Corruption and Fraud[11].


Investigative journalist Greg Palast subjects Tranparency International to strong criticism. He argues, "one of its big benefactors is Balfour Beatty construction - Britain's 'Halliburton' - which has admitted to massive bribery. Five years ago I reported how the former chairman of Transparency International's backer, "announced with enormous pride that he personally had handed over the check to the government minister for the Pergau Dam bribe."[12].

Palast writes: "TI's support comes from bribe payers who want to reduce their pay-outs -- but not eliminate them or the edge they give over honest businesses".[13]

Corruption Perceptions Index

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index has drawn increasing criticism in the decade since its launch, leading to calls for the index to be abandoned. Fredrik Galtung, a former Transparency International researcher and pioneer in the development of the Bribe Payers Index (BPI), addresses several criticisms of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). He argues that the CPI should be radically revised and complemented by additional indicators[14][15].

The investigative journalist Greg Palast has criticised the methods by which the CPI is calculated:

What is the source of the Transparency International corruption index? It runs "surveys" of corrupt countries by asking corrupt corporate leaders which nations they consider corrupt.[16]


Beth Aub was a co-founder of Transparency International and was the general secretary for TI's Jamaica chapter. She resigned her membership of the ‘global anti-corruption body’ in 2004, alleging that TI tolerated corrupt practices such as "facilitation payments", a term she described as another name for bribery and corruption.[17]

Transparency International gave Jamaica a poor ranking in the corruption perceptions index of 2007. According to Beth Aub this low ranking was likely to have been due to reports that Netherlands based oil company Trafigura Beheer had paid the the People's National Party, the then governing party in Jamaica, a donation of $31 million. This example shows that the practices of a Netherlands based oil company can affect the corruption perception index of Jamaica, yet have no affect on the Netherlands, which was rated the 7th cleanest country in TI's 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index. In addition, the corruption of the private company Trafigura -- which made the payment -- passed unremarked by Transparency International.[18][19]


In 2008 the organisation was criticised over its report on Venezuela entitled "Promoting Revenue Transparency".[20] The report examined the published accounts of oil companies in 42 different countries, and ranked them according to whether they were of high, medium or low transparency. The report claimed that Venezuela's state-owned oil firm PDVSA had failed to disclose basic financial information such as their revenues, royalties, and that they had not produced properly audited accounts. As a result, the report gave PDVSA the lowest possible ranking for transparency.

But it later emerged that the information on PDVSA's accounts was freely and publicly available. Further investigation uncovered that Transparency International's Venezuelan chapter was run by political opponents of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, leading to claims of a bias by TI against the Venezuelan government.[21]

Calvin Tucker, co-editor of, wrote in an article in The Guardian that TI's "report on Venezuela, which was produced after months of research, is factually inaccurate in almost every respect." He adds, "Unsurprisingly, TI's damning report was seized upon by rightwing newspapers and websites and used as another stick with which to beat Venezuela's socialist president, Hugo Chávez."[22]

In reply to criticism of the report, TI said that they "stand by their report" and stand by the person who compiled the data, whom Tucker describes as an anti-Chávez activist who backed the 2002 military coup against democracy.[23]

It is worth asking why Venezuela's oil industry should be a particular focus of investigation. A possible reason is that Venezuela is one of very few countries with a state-run oil industry. The profits from its oil industry are put into social programmes.[24] In other words, its oil industry is not in the hands of, or available to, the big oil companies, some of which are among the funders of TI.


Anglo American | Bombardier | BP International Consolidated Contractors | EBRD | Fluor Corporation | Halcrow Group | Hilti Corporation | Hochtief | International Federation of Inspection Agencies | ISIS Equity Partners | KPMG | Motorola | Novo Nordisk | Obayashi Corporation | Pfizer | PricewaterhouseCoopers | Rio Tinto | SGS | SIKA | Skanska | SNC Lavalin | Deutsche Bank

Between € 50,000 AND € 200,000

Federal Foreign Office - Germany | Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA) | Chr. Michelsen Institute - Norway | Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) | Ireland AID | The Charles S. Mott Foundation USA

Over € 200,000

European Commission | Ministry for Foreign Affairs - Finland | Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) - Germany | Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) | US Agency for International Development (USAID) | Department for International Development (DFID) - UK | Ministry of Foreign Affairs - The Netherlands | Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) | Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) | The Ford Foundation - USA | AVINA Group - Switzerland | Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) | Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Private Sector

Exxon | General Electric | Lafarge | Merck | Norsk Hydro | SAP AG | Shell International | Sovereign Asset Management Sovereign Global Development Anglo American | Nexen UBS[25]

Participants in private sector projects

ABB | Amanco | Bombardier | BP | Calvert | Consolidated Contractors | F&C Asset Management | Fluor Corporation | Halcrow | Hilti | Hochtief | International Federation of Inspection Agencies | ISIS | Merck | Motorola | Norsk Hydro | Pfizer | PricewaterhouseCoopers | Rio Tinto | SGS | Sika | Skanska | SNC Lavalin | TRACE

Individuals and Other Donors

William F. Biggs | Hartmut Fischer (Germany) | Arnesto Gonçalves Segredo (The Netherlands) | Basel Institute on Governance (Switzerland) | Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE USA) | Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG Germany) | European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) | Fondation Pro Victimis (Switzerland) | Gesamtverband Kommunikationsagenturen (GWA Germany) | KPMG | IHK Frankfurt (Germany) | Lahmeyer International | Ministry for Foreign Affairs Norway | Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand (NZAID) | Partners of the Americas (USA) | Stockholm International Water Institute (Sweden) | The World Bank (IBRD)[26]


See Also

Contact, References and Resources


Transparency International Secretariat
Alt-Moabit 96
10559 Berlin
Tel. +49-30-3438 20-0
Fax +49-30-3470 3912




  1. About Us, About Tranparency International UK, Transparency International, Accessed 29-June-2009
  2. Mission, About Us, Transparency International, Accessed 06-July-2009
  3. Greg Palast, Venezuela Corrupt? "Transparency International" Has Some Questions to Answer Itself, Greg Palast Journalism and Film, Accessed 06-July-2009
  4. Calvin Tucker, Seeing through Transparency International, The Guardian, Comment is Free, 22 May 2008.
  5. George Mobiot, Helping The Poorest To Get Poorer; The World Bank and the IMF are beyond reform. Shut them down, The Guardian, 21-September-2000, Accessed 30-July-2009
  6. Jeremy Pope, Conversations:Anti-Corruption Crusader, Sun2Surf, 28-October-2005, Accessed 29-June-2009
  7. Jeremy Pope, Conversations:Anti-Corruption Crusader, Sun2Surf, 28-October-2005, Accessed 29-June-2009
  8. Jeremy Pope, Conversations:Anti-Corruption Crusader, Sun2Surf, 28-October-2005, Accessed 29-June-2009
  9. Jeremy Pope, Conversations:Anti-Corruption Crusader, Sun2Surf, 28-October-2005, Accessed 29-June-2009
  10. Jeremy Pope, Conversations:Anti-Corruption Crusader, Sun2Surf, 28-October-2005, Accessed 29-June-2009
  11. About Us, Strategic Plan 2007-2010, Transparency International, Accessed 06-July-2009
  12. Greg Palast, War on corruption? Not quite, Minister, The Guardian, 9-July-2000, Accessed 07-July-2009
  13. Greg Palast, Venezuela Corrupt? "Transparency International" Has Some Questions to Answer Itself, Greg Palast Journalism and Film, Accessed 06-July-2009
  14. Galtung, Fredrik (2006). "Measuring the Immeasurable: Boundaries and Functions of (Macro) Corruption Indices," in Measuring Corruption, Charles Sampford, Arthur Shacklock, Carmel Connors, and Fredrik Galtung, Eds. (Ashgate): 101-130. .
  15. Sik, Endre (2002). "The Bad, the Worse and the Worst: Guesstimating the Level of Corruption," in Political Corruption in Transition: A Skeptic's Handbook, Stephen Kotkin and Andras Sajo, Eds. (Budapest: Central European University Press): 91-113.
  16. Greg Palast, "Venezuela Corrupt? 'Transparency International' Has Some Questions to Answer Itself", Greg Palast Journalism and Film website, 16 May 2005, accessed 7 July 2009
  17. Bolaji Abdullahi, Bribery Scandal Rocks Transparency International,, 16-November-2004, Accessed 24-June-2009
  18. Mark Beckford, Jamaica more corrupt - Falls 23 places on International Perception Index, Jamaica Gleaner, 27-September-2007, Accessed 07-July-2009
  19. CPI Corruption Perception Index, 2007 Index, Transparency International, Accessed 07-July-2009
  20. "Promoting Revenue Transparency", Transparency International, 27 April 2008, accessed 7 July 2009
  21. Calvin Tucker, Seeing through Transparency International, The Guardian, 22-May-2008, Accessed 06-July-2009
  22. Calvin Tucker, Seeing through Transparency International, The Guardian, 22-May-2008, Accessed 06-July-2009
  23. Calvin Tucker, Seeing through Transparency International, The Guardian, 22-May-2008, Accessed 06-July-2009
  24. Trent Hawkins, "Climate change -- the case for public ownership', Inhabitable Earth website, 16 February 2009, accessed 7 July 2009
  25. Who supports us, TI website, accessed 7 July 2009
  26. 2009 Global Corruption Barometer, TI website, accessed 7 July 2009