The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

Countries That Have Stepped up to Eliminate Corruption


In today's complex world, it's hard to keep track of all the corruption happening in different countries. From bribery to extortion, government officials and businessmen are finding new ways to line their own pockets at the expense of innocent citizens every day. But while some countries seem content to let business as usual continue, others have decided to fight back. Here are four countries that have been stepping up their efforts against corruption, and why they should be admired for it.


Unlike some of its neighboring countries, where corruption runs rampant and unchecked, Uruguay has consistently proven to be a country where corruption has been kept in check. The country has been able to decrease corruption, slowly climbing up yearly created lists ranking countries from most to least corrupt. The reasons for this improvement are various. For starters, citizens of the country have significantly higher incomes than those found in neighboring countries. It has been found that in countries with higher incomes, more resources are available to control and eliminate corruption. Another geographic advantage possessed by the country is that it is smaller than other countries in Latin America. Most of its population is resides in the capital, Montevideo. It is also more homogenous. These characteristics make corruption easier to fight. This versus countries that are much larger or that are federations, such as Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. At a political level, Uruguay is highly competitive, with strong political parties. Additionally, there is a consensus among parties on certain policies, such as the rule of law, democracy, and government transparency. All these characteristics have allowed Uruguay to transition from being a country subject to an authoritarian military dictatorship, which ended in 1985, to being the democratic country it is today. A country based on democratic values, making strides towards further economic development and the elimination of corruption in its system.


Estonia has been seen as a country with low levels of corruption during the last decade. It has continued to make efforts to combat corruption. This has let it to steadily being perceived as one of the least corrupt countries in Eastern Europe, controlling corruption much more effectively than other developing countries. Among the reasons for this, Estonia has enacted legislation that prohibits facilitating payments and gifts given in exchange for services. Mechanisms have also been put in place to detect and sanction police corruption. Members of the police who accept bribes are punished. These measures have led citizens of the country to greatly trust their police force. Despite Estonia’s effective corruption management mechanisms, the country was shaken in 2021 when the then prime minister resigned over a corruption scandal. The prime minister and his party were accused of receiving donations from private individuals involved in a project, in exchange for a loan granted by the government and lucrative deals. Despite claiming to have not done anything wrong, the prime minister resigned, taking political responsibility for any wrongdoing.

South Korea

South Korea has consistently been considered a country with moderate levels of corruption, especially when compared with neighboring countries such as North Korea and China. It has also taken measures throughout the last decade to improve this situation, leading to a lower perception of corruption in the country. As an example of measures taken by the government, the Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers was enacted in 2011. The law allows whistleblowers to report wrongdoing carried out by the private sector. This law builds upon the Act on the Prevention of Corruption and the Establishment and Management of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission ("ACRC"), which was enacted in 2008. The ACRC allows individuals to come forward with information on corruption in the public sector, protecting them in the process from suffering any kind of retaliation. Prior to both these laws, Korea enacted its first whistleblower law in 1951, known as the Tax Evasion Informant Reward Program, which was later expanded upon by the Foreign Financial Account Report Reward Program. Both laws allowed for individuals to come forward with information on tax frauds. Under these programs, whistleblowers are entitled to receive financial rewards for coming forward with information on corruption and fraud. They also provide for the confidential treatment of a whistleblower’s identity, and the ACRC went so far as to allow whistleblowers to come forward via an attorney, acting as a proxy to further protect their identity.


Singapore has been one of the counties with the lowest perception of corruption. It has been so for many years, and in 2021 it was the fourth country with lowest perceived levels of corruption. After gaining its independence in the late 1950s to mid 1960s, its founding Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew of the People’s Action Party, was determined to create a government based on meritocracy which would be incorruptible. Since its independence, Singapore has had a zero-tolerance policy for corruption. To aid its fight against corruption, Singapore has enacted two key pieces of legislation: the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA). The PCA applies to individuals that pay or receive bribes, be it in the private or public sector. The CDSA allows the government to confiscate gains arising from corrupt activities. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau is the agency in charge of enforcing these laws. This bureau has gained a trusted reputation in terms of how it prosecutes these offenses, acting in an impartial manner to enforce Singapore’s anti-corruption laws. Lastly, Singapore’s judiciary is insulated from any political influence. This allows it to act in a transparent manner, effectively enforcing the rule of law. Taken as a whole, all these characteristics have allowed Singapore to be one of the countries with the lowest levels of perceived corruption in the world.


Corruption is a global issue that requires a global response. The countries that have stepped up to eliminate corruption are to be commended, and we hope more will follow their lead. If you are aware of any corrupt activity, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are committed to fighting for justice and would be honored to help you expose wrongdoing.