Germany ‘more corrupt than thought’

Though a new survey of perceptions of corruption in countries around the world rates Germany rather well – 14th out of 183 countries – anti-graft group Transparency International says country still has much work to do.

Germany 'more corrupt than thought'
Photo: DPA

The annual survey by the Berlin-based non-governmental organization placed Germany above well-developed countries like the United States, Austria and Belgium.

But Christian Humborg, the managing director of Transparency’s Germany branch, pointed out that the country’s position hadn’t improved much in recent years. In 2010, Germany was ranked 15th and the year before was ranked 14th in the index. It has consistently ranked in the middle of the pack among European countries and well below Canada and Singapore.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in Germany,” Humborg told The Local.

Humborg said Germany most urgently needs to address widespread perceptions that political parties and politicians place themselves open to corruption.

Under German law, companies can sponsor political parties and even set up stands at party events, he said. Though party financing scandals in recent years have resulted in more regulation and greater transparency, the company sponsorships can create the perception that companies can curry favour with politicians, he said.

“There hasn’t been anything happened for the last years to look at this issue,” he complained.

Humborg also said that Germany should immediately ratify its accession to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which obliges states to put in place specific and detailed safeguards against corruption.

Although Germany has provisionally signed the convention, the fact that it has not yet ratified – meaning it is not legally bound by its provisions – puts it in dubious company with countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria and North Korea. In Europe the Czech Republic is the only other country other country that has not yet ratified the convention.

Humborg said Bundestag members are worried that if the treaty is ratified there could be more anti-bribery investigations launched against them, leading to damaged reputations if charges are later proven false.

“It seems other countries haven’t had this problem, so those worries don’t make a lot of sense,” Humborg said.

Moises Mendoza

[email protected]

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.