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9. Corruption

According to the World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators, corruption remains an area of concern in Argentina. In the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of corruption, Argentina ranked 95 out of 176 countries in 2016. This is an improvement from its 2015’s ranking of 107 out of 175. According to Transparency International, Argentina has weak enforcement of anti-corruption measures. Allegations of corruption in provincial as well as federal courts remained frequent. Lack of transparency, autonomy, and clear rules in the selection of judges as well as inefficiencies and pervasive delays compromise the judicial system and create the potential for political influence. Few Argentine companies have implemented anti-foreign bribery measures beyond limited codes of ethics. In March 2017, the executive branch introduced a Corporate Liability Bill to the Argentine Congress to criminalize Argentine companies that pay bribes in return for successful bids. At the time of this report, the Lower House’s respective committees were analyzing this bill.

Argentina’s legal system incorporates several measures to address public sector corruption. The government institutions tasked with combatting corruption include the Anti-Corruption Office (ACO), the National Auditor General, and the General Comptroller’s Office. Public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws, and the Ministry of Justice’s ACO is responsible for analyzing and investigating federal executive branch officials based on their financial disclosure forms. The ACO is also responsible for investigating corruption within the federal executive branch or in matters involving federal funds, except for funds transferred to the provinces. While the ACO does not have authority to independently prosecute cases, it can refer cases to other agencies or serve as the plaintiff and request a judge to initiate a case.

Since assuming office, President Macri made combating corruption and improving government transparency a priority objective for his administration. Laura Alonso, a Former National Deputy for the Republican Proposal Party (President Macri’s political party, PRO by its Spanish acronym) was appointed as the head of the ACO with a mandate to improve public policy and leave the prosecution of corrupt officials to the judiciary. In September 2016, Congress passed a law on public access to information. The law explicitly applies to all three branches of the federal government, the public justice offices, and entities such as businesses, political parties, universities, and trade associations that receive public funding. It requires that responses to citizen requests for public information must be answered within 15 days, with an additional 15-day extension available for “exceptional” circumstances. Sanctions apply for noncompliance. The law also mandates the creation of the Agency for Access to Public Information, an autonomous office within the executive branch. President Macri also proposed a series of criminal justice and administrative reforms. Chief among these are measures to speed the recovery of assets acquired through corruption, plea-bargaining-type incentives to encourage judicial cooperation, and greater financial disclosure for public servants. In early 2016, the Argentine government reaffirmed its commitment to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and reengaged the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Argentina is a party to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Convention against Corruption. It ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions in 2001 (Anti-Bribery Convention). Argentina also signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and is an active participant in UNCAC’s Conference of State Parties. Argentina is an active participant in the Mechanism for Follow-up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC).

Argentina is a member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, the organization that monitors compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. A high-level mission of the Anti-Bribery Working Group visited Argentina in April 2016 and concluded that the package of legislative reforms and the Justice 2020 plan announced by the Macri government had the potential to address the Working Group’s recommendations that have been outstanding for over a decade. The Working Group’s supplemental Phase 3bis evaluation of Argentina in March 2017 made further recommendations to improve Argentina’s fight against foreign bribery, including suggested amendments to the draft corporate liability law that would bring it into compliance with OECD standards.

Since Argentina became a Party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2001, ten allegations of Argentine individuals or companies bribing foreign officials have surfaced. Three of the allegations are under investigation. An investigation into one allegation was not opened because of a lack of information. Investigations into two allegations ended without charges. A seventh allegation was determined not to involve foreign bribery, but rather other offences after an investigation. At the time of OECD’s last reporting in December 2014, it remains unconfirmed whether the remaining cases involve foreign bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

  • Oficina Anticorrupción, Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos
  • Tucumán 394
    Código Postal (C 1049 AAH)
    Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires,
    República Argentina
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