1 December 2011

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 will be released today at 2pm New Zealand time.  The Index rates perceptions held by expert assessors of the level of public sector corruption. In last year’s Index New Zealand shared top place with Singapore and Denmark.

Media coverage during the year of fraud-related developments may affect the perception. Included for the first time in the TI Bribe Payers’ Index, a surprising number of New Zealanders self-reported paying a bribe for services. The Auditor General’s public sector fraud survey published in November and the PriceWaterhouse Coopers New Zealand edition of the Global Economic Crime Survey released this week, both challenge the traditional understanding that New Zealand is largely devoid of corruption.

The PWC statistics suggest that economic crime is worsening. Of the 78 participating jurisdictions New Zealand experiences more fraud than average, moving to 4th place in the extent of reported fraud (from 8th in 2009), ahead of United States and Australia. Responses from the (small – 93 organisations) sample suggests that 60% of government agencies experience fraud.

A disturbing report yesterday is of a former Serious Fraud Office chief prosecutor being charged with forgery. The allegations, derived from an initial court appearance, shatter the perception that New Zealand State servants, imbued with the spirit of service, are committed to trustworthy behaviour that will strengthen public trust in government.