Many companies claim corruption is the most significant obstacle to foreign investment and economic development in Mali. While corruption is a crime punishable under the penal code, bribery is frequently reported in many large contracts and investment projects. Some investors report government officials often solicit bribes to complete otherwise routine procedures. The transition government has pledged to prioritize anti-corruption efforts. In 2021, Transparency International’s global corruption ranking for Mali decreased to 136th of 180 ranked countries (from 129th of 180 in 2020). Mali’s perceived public corruption score from Transparency International was 29 out of 100 in 2020 (with 0 being “highly corrupt” and 100 being “very clean”). Relative to other developing countries, Mali was rated at the 67th percentile for control of corruption on the FY2020 MCC Scorecard (based on World Bank and Brookings Worldwide Governance Indicators reports).
Corruption is reportedly common in government procurement and dispute settlement. The government has addressed this issue by requiring procurement contracts to be inspected by the Directorate General for Public Procurement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which determines whether the procedure meets fairness, price competitiveness, and quality standards. However, there are allegations of significant political interference in procurement. In addition, both foreign and domestic companies complain about harassment and requests for bribes from officials involved in tax collection. Mali’s international donor community has been working with the government to reduce corruption.
Investors have found the judicial sector to be neither independent nor transparent. Questionable judgments in commercial cases have occasionally been successfully overturned at the supreme court. However, there is a general perception among the populace that while prosecution of minor economic crimes is routine, official corruption, particularly at the higher levels, goes largely unpunished.
In 2004, then-president of Mali Amadou Toumani Touré created the Office of the Auditor General (BVG) as an independent agency tasked with auditing public spending. Since its inception, the BVG has uncovered several significant cases of corruption, including in the customs directorate. However, few findings of corruption have resulted in prosecutions.
Growing pressure from international donors for more transparency in public resource management led to changing the appointment process for directors of finance and equipment across many ministries. As a result, in March 2017, the Minister of Economy and Finances dismissed 15 Directors of Finance and Equipment. Eighteen others were moved to other ministries. The government opened OCLEI in 2017 to combat illicit enrichment by government officials. OCLEI has the authority to collect asset declarations from public servants, to conduct investigations of government officials suspected of corruption, and to refer cases for prosecution if sufficient evidence is gathered against the defendant. However, OCLEI’s operations were suspended following civil servants’ union protests against asset declaration requirements. Negotiations between the unions, the government, and donors eventually yielded a satisfactory solution that enabled the office to resume operations, and the office has begun registering asset declarations for certain categories of civil servants. According to its 2017-2018 report, OCLEI received asset declarations from approximately 1,000 civil servants (nearly 70 percent of all civil servants in Mali are subject to assets declaration) over 2017-2018 and referred three suspected cases of corruption to the justice system. However, OCLEI came under significant pressure in 2020 when Mali’s main workers union requested the government close OCLEI.
Following a cabinet reshuffle in 2019, the newly appointed Minister of Justice took measures to address corruption by appointing a new prosecutor in the Economic and Financial Specialized Judicial Office of Bamako, a court in charge of prosecution of corruption. Since these changes, many high-profile business and political leaders have been arrested due to corruption allegations. In 2021, Mali’s Auditor General released 11 financial audit reports, two performance audit reports, four reports of conformity, and four reports on the level of implementation of recommendations it made in previous audit reports. The Auditor General refers cases of fraud or other unlawful practices to the Economic and Financial Specialized Judicial Office of Bamako. Since the beginning of the transition government in 2020, reports from the Auditor General have led to the arrest of many high-profile former government officials for alleged involvement in corruption business dealings. Though these are welcome developments for some observers, others have highlighted the political motivations behind these arrests and the failure of the judicial branch to prosecute them properly and in a timely manner. In sum, the results of recent anti-corruption efforts remain a mixed bag.
In September 2021, the National Transition Council (CNT) passed the law on the creation of the national court dedicated to combating economic and financial crimes. The Act amends provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and provides the legal basis for establishing a much-needed institution to prosecute economic and financial crimes wherever they occur in Mali. The new Criminal Procedure Code established three specialized anti-corruption chambers under the jurisdictions of appellate courts in Kayes, Bamako, and Mopti.
The new, national anti-corruption court establishes a comprehensive system to fight corruption and to coordinate across numerous specialized agencies such as CENTIF, OCLEI, and BVG. It is also the single judicial point of contact for economic and financial crimes with authority to liaise on cooperation requests for international mutual assistance on corruption related criminal matters.
Mali’s transition authorities have prioritized messaging about anti-corruption and the need for enhanced financial transparency in governance. The creation of a national anti-corruption court that is professionally staffed and empowered to aggressively prosecute economic and financial crimes is an important step toward real progress on this issue.
Resources to Report Corruption
Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:
Head Prosecutor, a.i.,
Economic and Financial Specialized Judicial Office (Pole Economique et Financier de Bamako)
Tel. (+223) 20 29 71 34
Samba Alhamdou Baby
Office of the Auditor General (Bureau du Verificateur General)
Tel. (+223) 20 29 70 25
Accounts Chamber of the Supreme Court (Section des Comptes de la Cour Supreme)
Tel. (+223) 20 22 15 02
Mohamed Sidda Dicko
Comptroller of Public Services (Controleur General des Services Publics)
Tel. (+223) 20 22 58 15
Contact at a “watchdog” organization:
Transparency International Mali
Cercle de Réflexion et d’Information pour la Consolidation de la Démocratie au Mali (CRI 2002)
Avenue Cheikh Zayed, Hamdallaye Porte: 2535ACI 2000, Commune IVDistrict de Bamako
Tel. (+223) 20 29 25 92