BERLIN: Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) says two thirds of the 175 countries on its latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) scored below 50 – with 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Denmark came first with a score of 92 while North Korea and Somalia shared last place with just eight points.
"Corrupt officials smuggle ill-gotten assets into safe havens through offshore companies with absolute impunity," said TI chairman José Ugaz. "Countries at the bottom need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favor of their people. Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don't export corrupt practices to underdeveloped countries."
TI says China's score fell to 36 in 2014 from 40 last year despite the fact the government launched an anti-corruption campaign targeting corrupt public officials. TI's recent report on corporate disclosure practices noted all eight Chinese companies mentioned scored less than three out of ten.
Meanwhile the biggest improvers on the CPI this year were Côte d´Ivoire, Egypt, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (+5), Afghanistan, Jordan, Mali and Swaziland (+4).
TI notes corruption and money laundering are also problems for other BRIC countries this year as questions were raised about a major oil company using secret companies to bribe politicians in Brazil (score of 43 on the CPI); questions about Indians (score 38) using bank accounts in Mauritius (54); and Russians (27) doing the same in Cyprus (63).
"Grand corruption in big economies not only blocks basic human rights for the poorest but also creates governance problems and instability. Fast-growing economies whose governments refuse to be transparent and tolerate corruption, create a culture of impunity in which corruption thrives," added Ugaz.
TI says Denmark set an example in November by announcing plans to create a public register including beneficial ownership information for all companies incorporated in Denmark. This measure, similar to those announced by Ukraine and the UK, is expected to make it harder for ultimate owners to remain anonymous.
TI is calling on EU and G20 countries to follow Denmark's lead: "None of us would fly on planes that do not register passengers, yet we allow secret companies to conceal illegal activity. Public registers that show who really owns a company would make it harder for the corrupt to take off with the spoils of their abuse of power," said TI managing director Cobus de Swardt.