Denmark - Corruption, Lack Thereof
Denmark topped the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index as the least corrupt country in the world by Transparency International, which has local representation in Denmark. In Denmark it is unheard-of to cross the street if the pedestrian light is red. People will instead wait for the green light, also if no cars or bikes are around. One of the reasons is that the police would actually hand out a ticket for red-light-crossing.
Integrity in politics is key to fighting against corruption and Denmark takes the lead. The high rank is due to Denmarks high degree of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems.
The Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) defines corruption as the 'misuse of entrusted power for private gain'. Danida's definition corresponds with the conception of corruption in the Danish Penal Code, and other international conventions. Corruption is a broad term covering a wide range of misuse of entrusted funds and power for privat gain: Theft, fraud, nepotism, abuse of power etc. A corrupt act is often - but not necessarily - illegal. Corruption exists everywhere. The causes might differ, however, whether corruption results from a need, a culture or simply from an opportunity too tempting not to exploit.
Corruption and bribery are fundamental economic problems, preventing markets from working efficiently. When orders and contracts are placed on the basis of personal interests – instead of price and quality – the result is an increase in costs and a decrease in the quality of production. Corruption can be viewed as an extra tax on trade and investment, and basically everybody agrees that on a global scale, corruption is one of the most significant barriers for economic growth and development.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for combating corruption, which is covered under the Danish Penal Code. Penalties for violations range from fines to imprisonment of up to four years for a private individual’s involvement and up to six years for a public employee’s involvement. Since 1998, Danish businesses cannot claim a tax deduction for the cost of bribes paid to officials abroad.
Denmark is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery, the UN Anticorruption Convention, and a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. In the Working Group’s 2014 Phase 3 report on Denmark, the government was urged to be more proactive in its investigations and to prosecute foreign bribery allegations.
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. There were isolated reports of government corruption during 2018. Authorities discovered in October that a senior civil servant allegedly embezzled approximately 113 million kroner ($17 million) over the course of 16 years from the Ministry for Children and Social Affairs where she worked. She was apprehended in South Africa, and returned to Denmark in November to face charges. In May 2018, the Danish Tax Authority began pursuing claims that it had wrongly paid out dividend tax refunds to agents representing 277 pension plans in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia, and Luxembourg.
Reporting of personal finances, including from positions with private and public companies, personal businesses, donors, foreign gifts, and past/future salaries is mandatory but not enforced. Government officials may not work on specific matters in which they, persons they represent, or persons with whom they have close relations have a personal or economic interest. Officials must inform their superiors of any possible conflicts of interest that might disqualify them.
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