Corruption 'Rampant' in Two-Thirds of Countries

By Philip Blenkinsop type=search&StoryID=1382265

BERLIN (Reuters) - Over two thirds of the world's countries are rife with corruption -- a spectre haunting Latin America, the former Soviet states and vast swathes of Africa, Transparency International said on Wednesday.

The Berlin-based anti-corruption group said 70 percent of the 102 countries it surveyed for its 2002 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) scored less than half-marks, a clear deterioration from last year.

"Corruption is perceived to be rampant in Indonesia, Kenya, Angola, Madagascar, Paraguay, Nigeria and Bangladesh," the organization said.

Latin America in general has slipped down the rankings of perceived corruption of its politicians and public officials.

"In the past year, we have seen setbacks to the credibility of democratic rule. In parts of South America, the graft and misrule of political elites have drained confidence in the democratic structures that emerged after the end of military rule," TI chairman Peter Eigen told a news conference.

For example, Argentina, ranked 57th last year with a score of 3.5 out of a potential 10, dropped to 70th and a 2.8 rating.

Eigen, speaking before heading to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, said corruption ruined a nation's chance to relieve poverty and heal the planet.

There were a few positive signs in former communist nations. Slovenia showed improvement, climbing from 5.2 points to 6.0, although many nations of the former Soviet Union were still riddled with corruption.

Russia, for example, had improved yet still had a long way to go and like Uzbekistan, Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Azerbaijan, it still scored below three points.

Finland topped the table, as it did last year, followed by Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore and Sweden.

However, many developed countries had no cause for pride.

Among the nations of the European Union and North America, Greece was the lowest-ranking country at 44th. Italy was ranked 31st. Ireland's rating had slipped from 7.5 to 6.9.


Eigen said the corporate scandals of Enron and WorldCom had highlighted a need for the United Nations to initiate reforms to strengthen social responsibility.

The institute's Bribe Payers Index, published earlier this year, demonstrated that businesses in top exporting countries were fueling corrupt politicians in the developing world.

The survey revealed high levels of bribery by firms from Russia, China, Taiwan and South Korea, closely followed by Italy, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, the United States and France.

The corruption survey failed to include every country. Afghanistan was omitted as well as almost any country from the Middle East or North Africa in the absence of sufficient data.

Eigen welcomed President Bush's commitment in March to tie billions of dollars of development over the next three years to a commitment to good governance and anti-corruption measures.

Likewise, a plan called the New Partnership for Africa's Development, which calls for investment in return for political progress launched by African leaders in October 2001

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