A guide on corruption in Latin America’s seven largest economies

It seems that every day, there is a new protest on the streets of Latin America, from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. Citizens of the region are growing increasingly worried and angered over something that is not new to them, but that is expanding in scope and consequence.

Corruption in Latin America is a problem that is systemic and deep-rooted in business culture and political strategy. Despite significant efforts from the public sector, private entities, and advocacy groups, corruption continues to plague the region, causing a major economic hindrance, reducing investor confidence, and worsening public distrust.

Recent scandals have confirmed that bribery and abuse of public office are endemic and part of business in Latin America. Largely due to complex bureaucratic procedures and confusing legal systems combined with weakness in oversight and control, corruption has swelled out of control in the region.

Corruption goes hand in hand with violence and organized crime, each feeding off the other. Despite legislative efforts to introduce or revamp anti-corruption laws that criminalize crimes like bribery and extortion, Latin America is still battling corruption.

In this chart, we have compiled indicators of corruption in the region’s seven largest economies, as well as initiatives from the government and public to curtail it. Please see these footnotes for more information about the indicating factors of corruption.

Click the chart to view in PDF format:


*Transparency International, a global advocacy group dedicated to publishing reports on worldwide corruption and promoting transparency through local chapter groups, has ranked 175 countries and territories around the world based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. See the Corruption Perceptions Index results for 2014. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

**Control of corruption refers to perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain. Control of Corruption is one of the six dimensions of the Worldwide Governance Indicators, conducted by the World Bank.

***The FATF is an inter-governmental policymaking body whose purpose is to establish international standards, and to develop and promote policies, at both national and international levels, to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The FATF has issued 40 recommendations to fight money laundering and 9 special recommendations to fight terrorist financing, though now there are just 40 recommendations.

****The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development is an inter-governmental body that promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of regions around the world. The OECD Anti-bribery convention established legally binding standards to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides for a host of related measures that make this effective. The 34 OECD member countries and seven non-member countries have adopted this Convention.