How corrupt is the Netherlands?

How corrupt is the Netherlands?

An annual survey has revealed how corrupt the Netherlands seems to be to experts. On a scale where a higher ranking corresponds to low levels of perceived corruption, the Netherlands ranks eighth out of 180 countries.

The Corruption Perceptions Index

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an annual ranking by Transparency International, which ranks countries on how corrupt they are perceived to be by experts. The index uses data from 13 different sources from 12 different institutions, including the Bertelsmann Foundation and the World Economic Forum, to give each country a value between zero and 100. The higher a country’s score, the lower the perceived corruption.

Out of 180 countries, the Netherlands ranks eighth, with a score of 82 points, placing it above the likes of Germany (80 points), the UK (77), France (69), the US (67) and Spain (62). Denmark and New Zealand topped the ranking with 88 points each and the Netherlands ranked just one place lower with a score of 82 points. On the other end of the scale, Somalia and South Sudan scored the worst, with a total of 12 points each.

The Netherlands faces corruption challenges

While the Netherlands ranked well in the Index, the country does have its own challenges in regard to corruption. The new Directive for Whistleblower Protection was adopted by the EU in 2019, and member states are obliged to implement the directive’s provisions into their national legislation by the end of 2021. The Netherlands has yet to comply with the Directive, and a draft bill aimed at implementing the directive was criticised by experts.

The Netherlands has recently started prosecution proceedings against the ex-CEO of ING, Ralph Hamers, for alleged money laundering and other criminal offences in the company’s accounts during his tenure as CEO. The case was settled back in 2018, with ING ordered to pay a 775 million-euro fine, although, ultimately, no charges were brought against the bank or its board. The Dutch public prosecutor, however, began its most recent investigations after it was ordered to do so by the courts.

The Netherlands has also experienced delays in adopting the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive and, according to Transparency International, has only limited enforcement against foreign bribery and has only recently opened a beneficial ownership registry.

Experts criticise the accuracy of the CPI

The Index has garnered some criticism from experts who point out that the perception of corruption does not match up with the real crime. Ruth Linssen, a professor of Sociology and Law at the University of Applied Sciences in Münster, sees the CPI as a good tool for publicising the issue of corruption but criticises it for suggesting a level of accuracy that is not there. In particular, one’s perception of corruption can be influenced, for example, by the media covering a corruption scandal.

There are no reliable figures that can gauge how corrupt a country is. Identifying corruption can be particularly difficult, as there are no direct victims. Those who accept a bribe are committing just as much of a crime as those who offer the bribe, and so corruption often goes unreported to the police.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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