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2012 Corruption Perceptions Index Lists Most Corrupt Countries

Jaclyn Jaeger | December 5, 2012

China, Russia, and several European countries—including Greece and Ireland—fared poorly on the latest measure of country corruption, according to Transparency International's 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index.

China slipped from 75th place in 2011 to 80th this year out of 176 countries around the world where perceptions about corruption were measured. Several European countries also declined in the rankings, including Greece, which fell 14 places to 94; Ireland, which declined 6 placed to 25; and Austria, which slid 9 place from the 2011 ranks to tie with Ireland. The United States placed 19th, improving on its 2011 ranking of 24th.

Bribery is still endemic in several countries around the world and governments aren't doing enough to fight corruption, according to the report by Transparency International. The index ranks countries on a scale of zero (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).

Of the 176 countries ranked in this year's index, 121 scored below 50, signaling that public companies need to be more transparent, and government officials held more accountable.

“Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making,” said Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle. “Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people.”

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Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tied for first place with scores of 90, reflecting low levels of state sector corruption. Sweden and Singapore ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia continue to cling to the bottom rung of the index with a score of eight. In these countries, the lack of accountable leadership and effective public institutions underscore the need to take a much stronger stance against corruption.

Underperformers in this year's also include the Eurozone countries most affected by the financial and economic crisis. Transparency International has consistently warned Europe to address corruption risks in the public sector to tackle the financial crisis, calling for strengthened efforts to corruption-proof public institutions.

“The world's leading economies should lead by example, making sure that their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable, Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of Transparency International.  “This is crucial since their institutions play a significant role in preventing corruption from flourishing globally.”

“After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power,” said Labelle. “The Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 results demonstrate that societies continue to pay the high cost of corruption.”

View a full list of each country's rankings here.