Finn Heinrich

Finn Heinrich

6 June 2012. According to a new report released by Transparency International (TI), an ant-corruption watchdog, points to strong correlation between graft and fiscal deficits. Greece, Portugal and Spain suffer the most from corruption in Western Europe.

Countries that are worst hit by the crisis are also those where corruption is most pervasive and where there’s a lack of integrity in the public system,” says Finn Heinrich, TI’s research director.

The report, “Money, Politics and Power: Corruption Risks in Europe,” investigates more than 300 national institutions across 25 states to assess their capacity to fight corruption. Political parties, business and the civil service performed the worst in the fight against graft and wrongdoing, the report says, and “too many governments are not accountable enough for public finances and public contracts,” the latter worth €1.8 trillion in the European Union each year.

Greece, which triggered the euro-zone’s debt crisis and is under pressure from its international lenders to reform its institutions and economy, showed prevalence of bribery and tax-evasion.

There was a widespread practice in Greece of paying officials “to knock a zero off someone’s tax bill or to speed up health care,” Mr. Heinrich said in an interview. “But as well as front-line bribery there’s also bribery on a grand scale, such as with public procurement, and the oversight of public spending is too weak.”

Greece, Portugal and Spain also performed well below average.