Knut Gotfredsen: Anti-corruption the Danish way



As part of the ‘India Today Copenhagen Tomorrow’ programme, three Indian journalists came to Copenhagen to exchange ideas and learn about specific Danish topics which they were keen on reporting about. One such topic was corruption – and understanding why Denmark ranks as one of the world’s least corrupt societies. This video clip shows you an excerpt of their meeting with Transparency International, an organisation that monitors and fights corruption.

Judging on the response and many questions from the three Indian journalists, this meeting was genuinely interesting for them. The speaker, Mr. Knut Gotfredsen, is Vice-President in Transparency International’s Denmark branch and a volunteer in the global organisation. He gave some insight into why and how Denmark has become one of the least corrupt countries in the world. He also gave some suggestions on how it is possible to “export” the proficient practice in order to lower the level of corruption in a society.



Audio-recording of the meeting in its full length:

Rigth-click to download audio file (1 hour 18 minutes)


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A lesson from the Danish past

In the old days, around 1840-1860, Denmark made a big change as far as corruption in the state was concerned. At that time, Denmark was governed by King Christian VII, who was followed by his son, Frederik VI.

Frederik VI was getting really annoyed with his officials who were stealing from the nation’s coffers. In order to solve the problem, he introduced a number of important reforms. In the penal code it was written that it would be criminal to accept bribes. The king analysed the situation more in details, and he understood that the corruption couldn’t be elimated only by introducing repressive laws. So at the same time, he also increased the salary of the officials, and gave them good pensions. Receiving a low salary was often the officials’ excuse when they asked for or accepted bribes.


The reforms of Frederik VI transformed many features of the Danish culture. Frederik VI introduced a new freedom of the press, and it became an efficient tool to expose cases of corruption.

He also introduced audits. Government audit officers were put in charge to take a close look at the state accounts and papers. Their job played a primary role in detecting corruption, along with the king’s new ideas about a free press which was eager to report on corruption cases.

All those reforms in Denmark 150 years ago created a “big bang” in the system of corruption, taking the nation on a good path which over the years created one of the least corrupted state administrations in the world.

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• More information about Transparency International:
transparency.org

• More information about Global Financial Integrity:
gfintegrity.org

Knut Gotfredsen on linkedin.com:
linkedin.com/pub/knut-gotfredsen

Aditi Tandon, Iftikhar Gilani and Shastri Ramachandaran visited Copenhagen one week in November 2012 as part of the Media Exchange Programme of ‘India Today Copenhagen Tomorrow’. Read more about their visit here.

• Transparency International – 12 December 2012:
Denmark is the Least Corrupt Country in the World
Danmark is again in 2012 one of the best ranked countries in Transparency International’s study of corruption worldwide. No bribery and an open and well-functioning public sector have placed Denmark in top of the ranking since the first study in 1995.


This article was written by Riccardi Inanna who is a student of Applied Cultural Analysis at the University of Copenhagen. She is taking her internship at the Danish Cultural Institute. Her primary interests are art, culture and sustainability.

Photos and video by Riccardi Inanna and Mik Aidt.

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Article in Indian press about corruption

Iftikar Gilani in DNA: ‘Denmark, where our politicians will feel like fish out of water’

| Epaper | PDF front page + PDF page 10 | Webpage |




Iftikhar Gilani’s write-up in Urdu language in Inquilab
- a multi-edition paper published simultaneously from 10 places and the largest circulated Urdu daily in India

| Epaper |

Translation to English:
Iftikhar Gilani: What makes Denmark corruption-free


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