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CPI 2020: Asia Pacific, Pakistan and Middle East

February 10, 2021

The newly published Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI 2020) has ranked 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. This index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. CPI 2020 identified that despite progress, most countries still struggle to stop corruption effectively – more than 2/3 of countries score below 50 on CPI, with an average score of just 43. That proves the need to implement more stringent anti-bribery anti-corruption measures worldwide.

In this article, we will look at how the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Pakistan scored in the CPI 2020 and discuss solutions to tackle bribery in these regions.

Asia Pacific

Transparency International identified that with an average score of 45, the Asia Pacific region is still struggling to combat corruption despite continuous efforts. Region’s top leader New Zealand (88) is followed by Singapore (85), Australia (77) and Hong Kong (77). Conversely, Cambodia (21), Afghanistan (19) and North Korea (18) ranked lowest in the region. Malaysia, the country which introduced more stringent measures to fight bribery and corruption, proves that it takes time to see improvements. The country has moved down to 51 points compared to 53 points in 2019. Accordingly, the ranking also moved down to 57 in comparison with 51 in 2019. “Although a drop in the score appears statistically insignificant, the government must be cognizant that our rank falling 6 steps means that compared to other countries we are not improving as well as other countries in our efforts to fight corruption” – said Transparency International Malaysia in a statement. TI-M added: “The Government after coming into power in early 2020 committed to continue with the agenda to fight corruption and among them were to gazette the enforcement date of 1 June 2020 for the Corporate Liability and continue with the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) initiated by the previous Government which is commendable. The NACP (National Anti-Corruption Plan) is a comprehensive plan but the government must ensure the implementation is effective and the Chief Secretary to the government should be empowered to lead the implementation and be made accountable”.

In our published whitepaper “South Asia grapples with anti-bribery compliance”, which overviews anti-bribery, anti-corruption and ISO 37001 solutions in Malaysia and entire in South Asia, we wrote that South Asia has a troubled record when it comes to preventing bribery and corruption, as well as enforcing compliance. Recent cases and statistics show that the problem persists in most countries in the region. Both government officials and private sector business leaders are struggling to adopt policies, control methods and best practices to help reduce bribery and corruption on their watch. High profile cases such as the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia and, more recently, the alleged Meikarta township case in Indonesia underscore this point. The investigations that were triggered by these cases demonstrate, however, that regulators are serious about addressing the threat of bribery and corruption as more than just a legal issue, but as a societal one, as well. In response, organisations that are committed to being in compliance are adopting the ISO 37001 – Anti-Bribery Management Systems standard as a comprehensive approach to mitigating risk and demonstrating ‘adequate procedures’ taken to prevent bribery and corruption.

Middle East

Transparency International identified that with an average score of 39, the Middle East and North Africa region is still perceived as highly corrupt, with little progress made towards controlling corruption. Even though the United Arab Emirates (71) and Qatar (63) are best performing in the region, UAE is still appearing in headlines with bribery and corruption scandals.

In the article “CPI 2020: Trouble in the top 25 countries” Transparency.org wrote: “The United Arab Emirates has been heavily criticised by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for its inadequate anti-money laundering framework. The country’s chaotic approach to registering companies makes it incredibly difficult for law enforcement to detect who is behind a suspicious company when thirty-nine different registries operate across the seven Emirates. The UAE’s booming construction and real estate sector accounts for a fifth of the Emirates’ GDP, but remains vulnerable to money laundering because of complex and opaque ownership structures”.

Recently CRI Group was featured in Financier Worldwide’s InDepth Feature: Anti-Money Laundering 2021 publication and shared the view about the unfortunate situation of money laundering in this region: “When it comes to money laundering, a recent report from Carnegie Endowment found that there is a steady stream of illicit funds from corruption and crime flowing into the UAE. This should be alarming to organisations and regulators alike. The perpetrators take advantage of ‘free trade zones’ and often the money is funnelled through real estate deals, especially in luxurious properties in Dubai, for instance. This might be facilitated by foreign mobsters, gold smugglers, and even warlords. These are high-level criminal operations that can pose a risk to any legitimate organisation operating in the UAE and the Middle East as a whole”. In this edition, CRI Group’s CEO Zafar Anjum and ABAC®’s Scheme Manager Huma Khalid talked about the Anti-Money Laundering solutions and financial crime impact on businesses not only in UAE but across the globe: “Money laundering still represents a gap in enforcement, and organisations should not wait for government action to put their own AML frameworks in place. Like many countries around the world, the UAE is experiencing an uptick of fraud and financial crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Financier Worldwide's InDepth Feature: Anti-Money Laundering 2021 Read the FULL article HERE!


As published in the press release, Pakistan’s CPI 2020 score “has lowered to 31/100 from 32/100 in 2019 and rank to 124/180 from 120/180 in 2019. This is despite NAB’s http://www.transparency.org.pk/survey/cpi2020/CPI2020_Press_Release.pdfextraordinary efforts who claims to have recovered Rs 363 billion in the last two years, and Public Accounts Committee claims to have recovered Rs. 300 billion over the previous two years”.

TI Pakistan recently reported that “A total of 95 corrupt persons were convicted and fined worth billion of rupees by various accountability courts during the last three years due to the vigorous persuasion of National Accountability Bureau, Rawalpindi“. The comment was made by the Director General NAB, Irfan Naeem Mangi Monday. These efforts, of course, plays a significant role in fighting bribery and corruption, however, Pakistan is still appearing in the headlines. Recently, Transparency International Pakistan has found the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) involved in prima facia violating procurement rules for IT-based solutions and causing Rs13.5 billion losses to exchequer.

As the expert in AML and risk management solutions, ABAC® was included in the Annual Review (2018): Pakistan Corporate Fraud & Corruption, published by Financier Worldwide Magazine. ABAC® was interviewed in the Q&A session and highlighted that Corporate fraud and corruption in Pakistan are widespread (Rose-Ackerman, 1997, p. 4), particularly in the government and police forces. There is a need to reform accountability and anti-corruption policies in Pakistan. 

Rising fraud risks have driven companies to establish the right steps to prevent fraud and corruption from surfacing. Following through with a focused trajectory ultimately also ensures failsafe protections are put in place, which will guard against scandals or negative publicity, while minimising risk exposure. There is quite a notable empirical rise in the frequency of companies conducting background screenings to nip corruption in the bud. Though checks can vary in nature, enforcing internal controls by implementing ISO strategies can bring pivotal change to a company’s strategy. Risk management is an essential part of minimising the costs that can arise in the long term due to losses and falling prey to fraudulent practices in the corporate realm. This can be implemented through a resilient management system that has been designed to specifically target any loopholes and any roadblocks, the impact of which can often be greater than anticipated, rattling the company and causing harm that could lead to lawsuits, unanticipated monetary and financial losses and hefty fines imposed by regulatory authorities, from which the company may never recover.

What are the global solutions?

ISO has developed a standard – ISO 37001:2016 ABMS – to help organisations promote an ethical business culture. “Designed to help your organisation implement an anti-bribery management system (ABMS), and/or enhance the controls you currently have. It helps to reduce the risk of bribery [and corruption] occurring and can demonstrate to your stakeholders that you have put in place internationally recognised good-practice anti-bribery [and anti-corruption] controls”.

This new standard mirrors numerous steps contained in the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (DOJ and SEC) and Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics and Compliance (OECD), Anti-Corruption Ethics and Compliance Handbook for Business (OECD), UK Bribery Act 2010 and the British Ministry of Justice’s Adequate Procedures document. ISO 37001 ABMS Standard is flexible and can be adapted to manage many types of bribery in addition to suiting any type of business locally or worldwide.

ISO 37001 certifies that your organisation has implemented reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent bribery. These measures involve top-level leadership, training, bribery risk assessment, due diligence adequacy, financial and commercial controls, reporting, audit, and investigation.

Consider ISO 37001:2016 ABMS as one of the invaluable tools of your Third-Party Risk Management Strategy. Combined with due diligencebackground screeningbusiness intelligence and compliance solutions, ISO  37001 certification and training can lift your risk management process and help your business mitigate risks from third-party affiliations, protecting your organisation from liability, brand damage and harm to the business. Learn more about 3PRM™ program as a flexible and responsive tool to the various risk domains that are most important to your business.


About ABAC® Center of Excellence

ABAC® Center of Excellence is an independent certification body powered by CRI Group. ABAC® offers a complete suite of services and solutions designed to educate, equip and support the world’s leading business organisations with the latest best-in-practice risk & performance assessments, systems improvement & standards certification. Find out more about ABAC®!

ABAC® programs protect your organisation from damaging litigation & safeguard your business in the global marketplace by providing certification & training in internationally recognised ISO standards, such as ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management SystemsISO 19600 Compliance Management Systems and ISO 31000 Risk Management Systems.

Based in London, CRI Group works with companies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a one-stop international Risk ManagementEmployee Background ScreeningBusiness IntelligenceDue DiligenceCompliance Solutions and other professional Investigative Research solutions provider. We have the largest proprietary network of background-screening analysts and investigators across the Middle East and Asia. Our global presence ensures that no matter how international your operations are we have the network needed to provide you with all you need, wherever you happen to be. CRI Group also holds BS 102000:2013 and BS 7858:2012 Certifications, is an HRO certified provider and partner with Oracle. Contact CRI Group today for further information on how CRI Group can help your business.

Prove That Your Business is Ethical for FREE

Complete our FREE Highest Ethical Business Assessment (HEBA) and evaluate your current Corporate Compliance Program. Find out if your organisation’s compliance program is in the line with worldwide Compliance, Business Ethics, Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Frameworks. Let ABAC® experts prepare a complimentary gap analysis of your compliance program to evaluate if it meets “adequate procedures” requirements under UK Bribery Act, DOJ’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs Guidance and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The HEBA survey is designed to evaluate your compliance with the adequate procedures to prevent bribery and corruption across the organisation. This survey is monitored and evaluated by qualified ABAC® professionals with Business Ethics, Legal and Compliance background. The questions are open-ended to encourage a qualitative analysis of your Compliance Program and to facilitate the gap analysis process.

The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete. TAKE THE SURVEY HERE!