Transparency International's annual index of perceptions of corruption has traditionally seen good scores and a high rank for Finland, but this year saw another drop down to third spot in the table. The NGO has a blunt assessment of the global situation, saying that "no country gets close to a perfect score" in this year's rankings.
The chair of TI's Finnish chapter, Tommi Niinimäki, says that the drop in Finland's position is down to several corruption cases and scandals that have come to light in recent months.
Ex-narcotics cop Jari Aarnio was sentenced to ten years in jail last month for an extensive list of bribery, corruption and drug crimes. There have also been corruption cases involving Nokian Tyres, defence company Patria and several asphalt firms, among others. In politics, election financing scandals have rumbled on since 2008, while Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has himself requested the parliamentary ombudsman check if he should have recused himself from decisions on funding for a mining firm because of his family links to one of the firm's contractors.
Niinimäki and TI both note that the index does not target structural corruption that may be more common in Nordic democracies like Finland.
"While the most obvious forms of corruption may not scar citizens' daily lives in all these places, the higher-ranked countries are not immune to closed-door deals, conflicts of interest, illicit finance, and patchy law enforcement that can distort public policy and exacerbate corruption at home and abroad," says the TI report.
TI recommends that Finland starts an open register of municipal, municipal company and public firm procurements. An open channel for whistleblowers to report suspicions would also help combat hidden graft, according to the NGO.
Denmark and New Zealand were joint top of the ranking, while Somalia was the last country, in 176th position.