IMG_3747There is no doubt that corruption takes different (and always creative) ways of manifestation. Unfortunately, to my view, we tend to put more emphasis on the phenomenon of “Public Sector” corruption, which is usually highly associated to the so-called “Developing World”.

Indeed, if you take as an instance, Transparency International (TI), its Corruption Perception Index refers just to the Public Sector. In such a way of dealing with misbehaviours, the countries with the lowest levels of economic development go all the way up as winners of this unfortunate ranking. The latest report issued by TI ratifies these words:

Now, we should not forget that, in order to have any kind of corruption, you need at least two players involved: the one that offers a malign deal, and the one accepting it. The fact that the Developing (sometimes ever developing) World has higher levels of Public Sector corruption is, in many occasions, linked to the behaviour of Multinational Corporations (MNC’s) that “offer” their beneficial conditions to local officials, in order to win or extend a contract.

So, it seems simply that we got the same corruption, but two kinds of institutionalised mechanisms, depending on the level of development of the countries: in the Developing World, corruption is “administrated” mainly through the Public Sector. In the Developed World, in contrast (but not exclusively), by the Private Sector, in most cases, via their MNC’s.

CPI2015_map

The case of Volkswagen (VW) as well as the one of many other German companies, is paradigmatic! Why? Because it involves the worst of the two worlds: Private and Public sector corruption!

Indeed, the State of Lower Saxony holds twenty (20) percent of the shares of the company (see Lower Saxony’s PM expressing the state interest in VW: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/10/13/uk-volkswagen-emissions-lower-saxony-idUKKCN0S70P920151013). This fact basically means that tax payers of Germany, specifically the ones of the state Lower Saxony, are financing till a certain extend, the activities of the company.

When VW misbehaves, the company is not simply betraying its clientele as well as no-name shareholders dispersed somewhere around the world (like in the case of many other publicly traded companies). VW is also laughing loud in the face of the citizens, and the entire German society.

Finally, with examples like this one and many others regularly occurring, I think it is already time to stop attributing most of corrupted practices as if they would be an almost exclusive patrimony of the Developing World.