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BERLIN: January 27, 2016. Following an Oxfam report released at the World Economic Forum claiming 80 people are worth US$1.9 trillion - equaling the wealth of the planet’s poorest 3.5 billion inhabitants – the latest Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International (TI) says Denmark again tops the list while Brazil has seen the greatest decline.

Overall, two-thirds of the 168 countries on TI's 2015 index scored below 50, with 0 perceived to be highly corrupt and 100 viewed as very clean. Brazil dropped seven positions to 76th place because of the unfolding Petrobras scandal that caused widespread protest in 2015.

IndonesiaTI says public sector corruption is not just about missing taxpayer money but also about broken institutions and corrupt officials that fuel inequality and exploitation – thereby “keeping wealth in the hands of an elite few and trapping many more in poverty”. According to the watchdog, more than six billion people live in a country with a serious corruption problem.

TI says the countries that saw a rise in corruption and a corresponding drop in the index in the past four years include Libya, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Turkey - while those that have seen a marked improvement include Greece (58th place), Senegal (61st) and the UK (10th).

“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption,” declared José Ugaz, chairman of TI.

In Indonesia TI demonstrated against a Regional Elections Bill which called for direct elections to become indirect ones. Protesters (right) wore face masks depicting politicians who were supporting the Bill.

With news that Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak will not be prosecuted for corruption, according to the country’s attorney general, following a reported gift of US$681 million from Saudi Arabia, the TI report comments: “If there was one common challenge to unite the Asia Pacific region, it would be corruption. From campaign pledges to media coverage to civil society forums, corruption dominates discussion. Yet despite all this talk, there’s little sign of action.

“The Malaysian prime minister’s inability to answer questions on the [money] that made its way into his personal bank account is only the tip of the iceberg,” it adds. Malaysia took 54th place on the latest TI index with a score of 50 points. Saudi Arabia was six points higher at No.48 with 52 points.

TI says top-of-the-index performers share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor and are truly independent from other parts of government.

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