The flipside of corruption: transparency?
December 2012, Romania
For twenty years, Transparency International has been trying to identify, measure, and tackle corruption in over 100 countries and across industries. Now the organisation has decided to try a different angle, and ask how transparent (rather than how opaque, or unaccountable, therefore potentially corrupt) some of the world’s largest companies are.
The report, published six months ago, tries to ‘shine a light’ on the issue by looking at three criteria: a company’s anti-corruption programmes; the transparency of its governance structure; and whether or not it publishes detailed financial information in all countries where it operates. While most companies score reasonably well on at least one of the first two criteria, the third one proved to be a deal-breaker. And the reason for that is that the country-by-country financial reporting the research looked had to include not only general levels of income and expenses, but also details about taxes paid, community contributions, and any “special arrangements” the company may have entered into with local governments. Or, such things tend to be kept behind a veil of secrecy across the world and in all languages. The average score on this criterion was a mere 4%, while nearly a half (41%) of the companies scored zero.