Corruption in Finland

Corruption-free countries do not exist. This holds true also for Finland, even though Finland is considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

Finnish people rarely see or experience corruption in their daily lives, because very little street-level corruption occurs in Finland. Street-level corruption refers to corrupt activities aiming to fulfil people's basic needs, such as giving of a bribe to receive appropriate treatment in a hospital.

Nevertheless, there is corruption also in Finland: it occurs at all levels of society and in many different sectors. According to studies, activities taking place between business operators and authorities are particularly susceptible to corruption.

Sectors with a higher-than-average risk of corruption include:

  • construction sector
  • public procurements and competitive tendering
  • community planning
  • political funding and decision-making
  • foreign trade and its promotion
  • development cooperation
  • sports

Corruption takes a variety of forms

When people hear the word 'corruption', they often first think about bribery in the public sector. Bribery is, however, just one of the forms corruption may take, and the majority of corruption in Finland occurs in some other way.

Typical forms of corruption:

  • conflicts of interest
  • favouritism
  • unethical preparation of decisions secretly or between insiders
  • giving and taking of bribes

The numerous forms of corruption make it more difficult to be identified, detected and revealed. It is typical of corruption occurring in Finland that the activities or behaviour classified as corruption are technically legal but still unethical.

Not all forms of corruption are criminalised, but all corruption is, nevertheless, harmful and unjust. The aim of corruption is to channel undue advantages to parties not entitled to them, which inevitably leads to a situation where someone else suffers. Therefore, corruption must never be accepted or ignored.

Operating environment affects the form corruption takes

The different forms of corruption have not changed much over the years. Instead, changes in the operating environment have changed the situations and contexts where corruption occurs in Finland.

Corporatisation of the public sector has brought along major changes to many activities financed with public funds. From the perspective of the prevention of corruption, public procurement processes, for example, may involve risks related to the openness of decision-making. Following corporatisation, reports on the economic activities and grounds for decision-making, required under the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, are no longer accessible by municipal residents, local councillors or representatives of the media in the same manner as before.

See examples of corruption here.