More than two-thirds of the world’s nations have high levels of corruption – and dodgy dealings are increasing in the US too, according to the latest report from Transparency International.
The global watchdog’ annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, using a scale of zero to 100, with zero signifying “highly corrupt” while 100 means “very clean”.
The CPI rewards countries “where rates of bribery, diversion of public funds, conflicts of interest and other forms of corruption are perceived to be lowest within government”, says Newsweek.
“That doesn’t mean that these countries are corruption-free – no country earns a perfect score of 100,” the magazine adds.
Denmark claims top place as the least corrupt nation, with a score of 88, followed by New Zealand. The UK scores 80, a drop of two points from the previous year.
Topping the list as the most corrupt country is Somalia, with ten points, followed by Syria and South Sudan.
All told, “more than two-thirds of the countries in the survey scored below 50 points”, says The Independent.
The CPI report names US President Donald Trump, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro among leaders said to favour tactics such as undermining free and independent media, and increasing anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-indigenous and racist rhetoric.
Indeed, the US is one of the biggest movers in the index, dropping four points to 71 points – a score that pushes the country out of the least corrupt top 20.
According to the watchdog, “the low score comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power”.
Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s acting representative to the US, notes that this is the lowest score given to the US in seven years.
“The US typically performs right toward the end of the top 20,” Reiter told Washington DC-based news site NPR.
“We’ve always been outperformed by our partners in the north – Canada and many of the northern European countries. That said, what we are seeing is this trend toward declining trust, not by just the public but also by experts, in the strength of our democratic institutions.”
She added: “Concerns around the Trump administration are quite serious, but this has been stewing for several years. Conflict of interest wasn’t a new problem, but it was illuminated in its glory when you have someone who is basically breaking norms.
“Trump is a symptom not a cause. His presidency is illuminating some of the problems.”
Or as Metro puts it, such concerns “have been highlighted by the actions of a rich president who defied precedent to keep his personal tax affairs secret and retain his business holdings in office”.
The ten least corrupt countries
1. Denmark (score of 88)
2. New Zealand (87)
3. Finland (85)
3. Singapore (85)
3. Sweden (85)
3. Switzerland (85)
4. Norway (84)
5. Netherlands (82)
6. Canada (81)
6. Luxembourg (81)
And the ten most corrupt countries
1. Somalia (10)
2. Syria (13)
2. South Sudan (13)
3. Yemen (14)
3. North Korea (14)
4. Sudan (16)
4. Guinea Bissau (16)
4. Equatorial Guinea (16)
4. Afghanistan (16)
5. Libya (17)