Denmark has retained the top spot on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index while Australia and New Zealand slipped two places.
TI’s annual report measures perceptions of public sector corruption rather than actual levels due to the secrecy surrounding most corrupt dealings. The index is based on expert opinions, looking at factors like whether governmental leaders are held to account or go unpunished for corruption.
Denmark scored 91 points out of a possible 100 to be the least corrupt while North Korea and Somalia remained at the bottom with unchanged scores of eight.
Brazil suffered the sharpest deterioration, tumbling to 76th place out of 168 countries, down seven positions from 2014. Australia and New Zealand both fell two places to 13th and 4th respectively.
Latin America’s largest economy was rocked by a massive corruption scandal at state-run companies, including oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), which involved allegations against top government officials.
Other decliners last year included Libya, Spain and Turkey. Turkey, which saw one of the sharpest declines in 2014 as a major corruption scandal buffeted the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party, fell a further three points to 68th place.
Among countries which improved were the US, UK, Greece and Senegal.
The US rose one spot to 16th with a score of 76, tying with Austria. The UK rose three spots to place 10th, with a score of 81 that tied it with Germany and Luxembourg.
The other top spots, from second to ninth, were occupied by Finland, Sweden, NZ, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and Canada.
Two thirds of the 168 countries assessed scored below the 50 mark in TI’s scale where 100 stands for the most clean and 0 for the most corrupt, indicating that corruption continues to take a heavy toll on the global economy and governance.
On a brighter note, the survey showed general perceptions of corruption around the world had declined last year.
TI attributed the overall global improvement to the work of citizen activists fighting corruption in places such as Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana – all countries which were able to improve their ratings in 2015.
‘Corruption can be beaten if we work together,’ said TI chairman Jose Ugaz in a statement.
‘To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough.’