Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Peru 75th among 180 countries

Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), released in Berlin this week, gives Peru a score of 3.7, in a countries rating that ranges between 0, perceived to be highly corrupt, and 10 for those perceived to be the least corrupt.

The index registers the perception of corruption in the public sector of a country, and is obtained through a series of expert and business surveys, seven in the case of most of Latin America.

Peru fares better than some of its neighbors –Argentina scored 2.9 , Bolivia 2.7, and Ecuador 2.2—but ranks the same as Brazil and Colombia. Chile is less corrupt than all its neighbors, scoring 6.7, while Venezuela ranks lowest in the Andean region with a score of 1.9.

The world’s top five countries perceived to be the least corrupt are New Zealand (9.4), Denmark (9.3), Sweden and Singapore with 9.2, and Switzerland 9.0. Close behind are Finland,  Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Iceland and Norway, followed by Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Germany and Ireland.

In a statement made Nov.16 in Berlin, Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International, noted that the vast majority of the 180 countries included in the 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index score below five. A higher perception of corruption is seen in countries that lack solid institutions, and mechanisms for conflict resolution.

Corruption is seriously widespread in Latin America, said Sylvia Schenk, president of TI in Germany, during the press conference. It is a result of deficient governance and an excessive influence of private interests in government and public sector decisions.

Although the lack of trust in government and the judiciary is ingrained and widespread in Peru, two cases over the past year have been particularly damaging.

The most notorious was the discovery late last year of backroom dealings between the president of Petroperu and private entrepreneurs to grant oil exploration concessions – the case not only forced a major Cabinet shuffle and the resignation of then prime minister, Jorge del Castillo, but also uncovered a network of phone tappings by a company called Business Track, with myriad links to the government and to the military. Investigations continue in links for other government contracts, and two major players are in custody.

The other case that is currently under investigation arose with the trip to Paris two weeks ago of two court magistrates and their wives, all expenses paid by Universidad Alas Peruanas.

Francisco Távara, former head of the Supreme Court and currently head of the Permanent Civil Court, and colleague Jorge Solís, travelled to Paris for a Nov.4 homage to Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo. Távara denies any impropriety, arguing that in 2007 and 2008 he worked alongside the university in Lima celebrations to honor the poet.

The university, however, is the defendant in dozens of court cases that cover a variety of accusations, including unfair treatment of personnel, and some of which could be seen in Tavara’s court. According to the president of the judicial system, Javier Villa Stein, the number of cases is 244. Also, the rector of the university, Fidel Ramirez, is involved in another 29 civil and criminal cases.

The president of the judiciary, Javier Villa Stein, has expressed disapproval but Távara has been quick to mention that Villa Stein sanctioned the trip.
Alas Peruanas has also fully paid the trips to Finland this year of congress members Mercedes Cabanillas and Wilder Calderón, both members of Apra, and other trips abroad for Apra congress members Mauricio Mulder, José Vargas and Édgar Núñez.

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