How Denmark fights corruption: Lessons for Somalia

By: Luqman Yasin Gelle 

Overview of Corruption in Somalia

After the complete collapse of state institutions in 1991, Somalia represents one of the world’s most protracted cases of statelessness. The on-going civil war, tensions between traditional clans and recurring famine ensure that the prospects for political stability remain bleak.

Corruption is both one of the leading causes and consequences of endemic political instability in Somalia, which has been ranked bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index every year since 2006 scoring a mere 10 out of a maximum 100(180/180) in the 2018 edition. The Worldwide Governance Indicators assign Somalia 0.48 percentile in the control of corruption for the year 2018.

Corruption occurs at all levels in both the public and private sectors, and is a visible and expected form of behavior. It affects virtually every aspect of the Somali society: from public officials’ misuse of public goods for private gain and the solicitation of bribes in exchange for basic services to the clan-based patronage networks used to obtain employment and political appointments. Businesses have likewise adjusted to the climate of lawlessness, for instance, by avoiding taxes and selling expired food and drugs.

Out of the 200 countries measured by Trace International for its Bribery Risk Index for 2017, Somalia comes in at the last place once again, with an overall risk score of 88. The same applies for the World Bank Doing Business 2018 rank for Somalia, it is judged the worst performing of the 190 countries assessed. In a phone survey of 465 people conducted by the Legacy Centre for Peace and Transparency 2006, 61.5% of respondents singled out corruption as the number one issue, when asked specifically about Somalia’s key obstacle to peace, which signifies this factor compared to any other issue.

Systemic corruption and the large-scale misappropriation of state funds by governing officials is the norm in Somalia. For the years gone, withdrawals from the state accounts were made by individuals for private gain, channeled into slush funds, used to shore up political support through patronage networks and some government associates are accused of using public funds to siphon off assets abroad.

Bribery is commonplace in all sectors of business, which is generally based on patronage networks, with tightly-controlled monopolies dominating the market including court rulings in business dealings.



Denmark is a high-income mixed economy, with a high GDP per capita. Danish exports are dominated by manufactured goods and fuels, while agricultural goods account for about 22.7 per cent of exports. The country’s 5.7 million inhabitants enjoy a high standard of living, with a human development index score of 0.929.

Extent of corruption

Denmark is currently ranked 1 of 180 countries on the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index with score of 88/100. The illustrations of world Governance Indicators, Denmark performs 99 percentile for control of corruption. Denmark is regarded as one of the world’s least corrupt countries, and bribery and other corrupt practices are not considered obstacles to business. The Danish Criminal Code (in Danish) forbids active and passive bribery and most other forms of corruption offenses contained in international anti-corruption conventions. It is also forbidden to bribe foreign public officials, and companies can be held criminally liable for acts of corruption committed by individuals working on their behalf. There is no distinction made between bribes and facilitation payments, and the propriety of gifts and hospitality depends on their intent and the benefit obtained. The government of Denmark generally enforces anti-corruption policies and laws effectively.

So what anti-corruption policies and laws has Denmark enforced to fight corruption?

Transparency International reported the mechanisms Denmark put in place to detect and deter corruption. The judicial System is the root of all successes registered.  There is a low risk of corruption in Denmark’s judiciary. The judiciary is independent of the other branches of government and is extremely well-regarded and considered to be independent and fair. Companies have sufficient confidence in the efficiency of the legal framework to settle disputes. Bribes and irregular payments in return for favorable judgments are perceived as very uncommon.

Police: The Danish police are not affected by corruption, and it enjoys a large degree of public trust. The reliability of police services to protect companies and individuals from crime is considered very high and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish police power abuse and corruption.

Public Services: Companies are very unlikely to encounter corruption when obtaining public services in Denmark. Legal, regulatory and accounting systems are transparent and in accordance with international standards. Bureaucratic procedures are streamlined and transparent. Irregular payments and bribes almost never occur when obtaining public utilities, business permits, licenses and other related services. Businesses can start up their companies within a few hours through an easy plug ’n’ play registration system.

Land Administration: Companies express confidence in Denmark’s land administration system, in that, property rights are well-protected and respected in Denmark. Companies are not likely to encounter corruption while interacting with land services in Denmark. Non-EU companies and individuals that have not been resident or present in Denmark for the preceding five years may only purchase real estate with the permission of the Danish Ministry of Justice.

Tax Administration: Companies report that bribes and irregular payments are exceedingly rare when making annual tax payments. The Danish Tax Assessment Act specifies that bribes and facilitation payments paid to foreign public officials and employees of state-controlled enterprises are not tax deductible. The Ministry of Taxation publishes corporate tax records to increase transparency and public scrutiny of corporate tax payments.

Public Procurement: Large-scale public procurement projects are subject to tender requirements. Mismanagement or irregularities in Denmark’s public procurement process, if Companies get convicted of corruption, they are subject to fines and possibly prohibitions on exercising certain commercial activities, depending on the gravity of the offense. Exclusion from bidding on future tenders is also a possible sanction.

Denmark is not generally associated with corruption. It performs very strongly in international measures of corruption, and most experts agree that its public sector exhibits a high level of integrity. Survey data of citizens’ and businesses’ experience with corruption reflect this situation, with low rates of reported bribery. Somalia can as well develop the like measures which have a well-established system to deter, detect and sanction corruption.

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