Malta stagnant in corruption index that calls for wider rule of law reforms

Malta falls to lowest ever position in Corruption Perceptions Index to 52nd place, down from 50 in 2019

Malta was dubbed a “significant decliner” in the CPI with its score of 53 points and stagnant position at 52 out of some 180 countries
Malta was dubbed a “significant decliner” in the CPI with its score of 53 points and stagnant position at 52 out of some 180 countries

Malta lost two places to its lowest ever ranking in the Transparency International corruption perceptions index (CPI), in joint-52nd place with Italy, Grenada, Mauritius and Saudi Arabia.

Dubbed a “significant decliner” in the CPI, the score is marginally worse than 2019’s ranking, when Malta was in 50th position with a score of 54. Malta then lost six points in the corruption perceptions index for 2018, a full year after the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The CPI ranking for Malta, now compiled by TI’s official partner the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, references the EU’s report on rule of law Malta which commented on the “deep corruption patterns” that have been unveiled and raised a strong public demand for a strengthened capacity to tackle corruption and wider rule of law reforms.

In 2019, a breakthrough in the investigation in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia led to the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

The PM’s former chief of staff was then arrested in September 2020 over an alleged kickback scheme to help three Russians obtain Maltese passports as part of the controversial golden passports programme in 2015. In addition, a European Central Bank report found major failings in Malta’s biggest bank, Bank of Valletta, potentially allowing for money laundering and other criminal activities.

The index ranks 180 countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. Like previous years, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43.

Countries that perform well on the index invest more in health care, are better able to provide universal health coverage and are less likely to violate democratic norms and institutions or the rule of law.

“COVID-19 is not just a health and economic crisis. It is a corruption crisis. And one that we are currently failing to manage,” Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International said. “The past year has tested governments like no other in memory, and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to meet the challenge. But even those at the top of the CPI must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption at home and abroad.”

Denmark and New Zealand retained the top spot, in joint first place, as the least corrupt country in the CPI.

Other EU member states who fell below the Malta ranking were Greece, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania in 69th position. The least corrupt EU states were Finland and Sweden in joint third position.

The bottom countries are South Sudan and Somalia, with scores of 12 each, followed by Syria (14), Yemen (15) and Venezuela (15).

With a score of 67, the United States reaches its lowest position on the CPI since 2012. The Administration’s challenges to oversight of the unprecedented US$1 trillion COVID-19 relief package raised serious anticorruption concerns and marked a significant retreat from longstanding democratic norms promoting accountable government.

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