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25 November, 2021

10 Countries With The Lowest Levels Of Corruption In 2021

The level of corruption risks in 194 countries has been assessed by the anti-corruption association TRACE International.

Let's find out where it's safe to develop companies and where you can get a residence permit and citizenship by investing in a business.

Anti-corruption policies: countries with minimal risks for business development
Photo: Adobe Stock

TRACE publishes an annual matrix that helps businesses assess the likelihood of encountering bribery and mitigate risks in advance.

The association scores countries on four factors that influence a country's position in the matrix and ranking: 

  • Business-government interaction, 
  • anticorruption policies, 
  • Transparency of government policies,the ability of civil society and the media to influence political processes.

Denmark tops the ranking of countries with the lowest levels of corruption. The Danish government does not fight corruption in the public and commercial sectors, but takes proactive measures. For example, the Trade Council advises Danish companies that operate internationally on the specifics of corruption policies in different countries. This helps companies to develop and avoid risks, and it helps Denmark build its reputation as a trustworthy country.

Norway came in second in the index. Sweden and Finland share third place.

10 countries with the lowest levels of corruption

1 Denmark
2 Norway
3 Sweden
4 Finland
5 New Zealand
6 Germany
7 Netherlands
8 Switzerland
9 Great Britain
10 Canada

North Korea, Turkmenistan and Eritrearnhave the highest level of corruption risks for businesses. 

Russia ranked 134th out of 194. Compared to 2020, the country dropped 7 positions in the ranking. The lowest score was given to the "Anti-Corruption Policy" factor. 

The full corruption risk matrix for 2021 is available on the official TRACE website.

How to obtain a residence permit or citizenship in the ranking countries

Nine countries that have low or very low corruption risks have investment programmes: foreigners can obtain residence permits or citizenship by investment.

Six countries offer investors the opportunity to invest in existing companies or start new businesses. For example, in the UK an investor can buy shares in foreign companies, in Greece they can buy commercial real estate, and in Portugal they can start a company and create jobs in the country.

Switzerland, Malta and St. Kitts and Nevis are included in the ranking, but residency status cannot be obtained there for business investments. To obtain a residence permit in Switzerland, you have to pay an annual chord tax, in Malta – to buy or rent a residential property. Citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis is obtained by purchasing real estate or making a non-refundable contribution to the country’s public fund.

Ranking of low-corruption countries that grant residence permits, permanent residence permits or citizenship by business investment 

PositionCountry and statusInvestment amount
9 Residence permit in Great BritainFrom £2,000,000
27 Residence permit in SpainFrom €1,000,000
28 Residence permit in PortugalFrom €350,000
34 Permanent residence permit in CyprusFrom €300,000
41 Residence permit in GreeceFrom €250,000
51 Citizenship in Saint LuciaFrom $1,000,000
Citizenship in St Kitts and Nevis for business in the UK and visa-free travel to Europe

Constantin and Igor have a joint business, a chain of coffee shops. In 2021, they decided to go international and open branches in London. To develop the business, it was important for the brothers to travel to the UK and the Schengen countries without a visa. Thus the idearnof obtaining a second citizenship was born. The lawyers at Immigrant Invest suggested that the entrepreneurs obtain citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis in return by investment in the form of a contribution to a public fund.

New opportunities with the St Kitts and Nevis passport

Who compiles the corruption risk matrix and how

TRACE International is a non-profit business association that helps fight corruption. Its experts analyse anti-corruption measures in different countries, their implementation, and make recommendations to businesses.

The TRACE Matrix has been published since 2014. It is a tool that assesses the risks of encountering corruption when doing business in a certain country. 

The matrix is calculated on the basis of analytical and statistical data from the UN, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. This distinguishes the Matrix and the TRACE ranking from another authoritative ranking, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which is calculated on the basis of public opinion polls.

The overall position in the ranking assesses the interaction between business and government, anti-corruption policies, government transparency and public services, and the potential for civil society and media oversight.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed government programme agent that helps people obtain a second citizenship or residence permit by investment. If you want to grow your international business and travel visa-free, seek advice from investment programme experts.

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10 Countries With The Lowest Levels Of Corruption In 2021