About us

We are an independent not-for-profit organisation dedicated to countering corruption and to improving standards of governance. 

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, since 2003, we work worldwide with the public and private sectors and civil society. We maintain field operations in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia. 

We are registered as a Swiss foundation and are an Associated Institute of the University of Basel. 

Gretta Fenner

Managing Director (2005–2008 and 2011–2024)

Frequently asked questions

Who are the people behind the Basel Institute?

The Basel Institute was founded in 2003 by Prof. Mark Pieth, Emeritus Professor at the University of Basel and a prominent international anti-corruption expert. Gretta Fenner has led the Institute's development from 2005–2008 and from 2011 to the present, together with her management team. Peter Maurer succeeded Mark Pieth as President of the Board in 2022.

Our global team is made up of over 130 staff from 31 countries and a wide range of professional backgrounds. So we are both a multi-disciplinary and a multinational team. Gender balance is equal. Some of our staff are based at our headquarters in Basel and others are duty-stationed in partner countries around the world.

Most of our colleagues are practitioners with many years of experience working in anti-corruption prevention or law enforcement as part of governments, in companies and in field research organisations.

What is your mission?

Our core mission is to contribute to global efforts to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen governance.

We see anti-corruption and good governance as critical components to achieve sustainable and equitable development around the world.

How do you define corruption?

See our definition of corruption here.

How do you work?

Our operational approach reflects what we believe are the key components of fighting corruption and strengthening governance.

  • First, we are convinced that a multi-stakeholder approach is critical. As a consequence we support both public and private actors in designing and strengthening their anti-corruption systems. We encourage the inclusion of citizens in these efforts.
  • Second, we believe prevention is better than cure – but that cure is necessary and acts also as prevention. Therefore, we help build strong governance structures and institutions that can resist corruption, and we help detect, investigate and prosecute instances where these systems have failed.
  • Finally, we take a very practice-oriented approach to all our work. But we understand that as corruption evolves our response to it needs to evolve as well. Consequently, we feed our practice experience into research that helps further inform our, and everyone’s, future strategies to become even more effective in fighting corruption.

In a nutshell, we aim to design our work in a holistic and integrated way, as we see this as the most effective way to create sustainable and long-term impact.

What are the Basel Institute’s main areas of expertise?

Our projects deal with a number of cross-cutting anti-corruption and good governance issues. Specifically, our expertise and services lie in:

  • Asset recovery assistance and capacity building through our International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR).
  • Anti-corruption research, training and assessments through our Prevention, Research and Innovation team.
  • Engagement with the private sector by providing anti-corruption compliance assistance and by advancing Collective Action – a collaborative approach to address corruption challenges and raise standards of integrity and fair competition in business.
  • Countering corruption that impacts the environment through our Green Corruption programme.
  • Technical assistance for Public Finance Management (PFM), specifically in Peru where we support 11 subnational governments through a long-term assistance programme.
In which countries do you work?

Our headquarter offices are located in the city of Basel, Switzerland, but we work globally. A particular focus in the past has been Southern and East Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central and South Asia.

When we work with companies, they are more often located in Western and Central Europe while their operations, and hence our work with them, span the globe.

Do you also work on corruption in Switzerland?

We regularly assist Swiss companies and organisations to set up or enhance internal anti-corruption compliance programmes and related governance processes, often with a global impact as these organisations operate across the world.

We further actively participate in the Swiss Government’s interdepartmental working group on corruption which, among other things, looks at anti-corruption strategy in Switzerland.

Finally, Swiss anti-corruption law enforcement and policy bodies are important partners both in asset recovery efforts and broader global policy endeavours.

What is the relationship between the Basel Institute and the University of Basel?

The Basel Institute is an Associated Institute of the University of Basel. Through this special arrangement we enjoy close collaboration with the University’s faculties and research groups, and can more easily access certain University facilities.

Our Working Paper and Policy Brief series are available on the University Library Basel's Open Publishing Platform, eterna. Our Head of Prevention, Research and Innovation has taught at the University and also leads some of the activities of the Centre for African Studies’ Research Network Africa initiative.

Administratively and financially we are independent from the University.

What is unique about the Basel Institute?
  • Deep and wide-ranging expertise and competencies in anti-corruption and related fields
  • Integrated and holistic approach
  • Independence
  • Context-sensitive
  • Bureaucratic leanness and agility
  • Operational flexibility, adaptability and quickness
  • Well-recognised international reputation
  • Extensive professional network
How is the Basel Institute funded?

Core contributions to ICAR make up around 26 percent of our annual revenue. Project-specific funding accounts for 74 percent.

Any surplus funds that may be generated from advisory services or subscriptions to our Basel AML Index and Basel Open Intelligence tools are used to support our research initiatives and technical assistance programmes in developing countries.

For more information on our funding, see Funding and governance or view our latest annual report.