Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 found even those countries which scored very highly for transparency still faced the threat of corruption “at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations”.
"The top performers clearly reveal how transparency supports accountability and can stop corruption.
“Still, the better performers face issues like state capture, campaign finance and the oversight of big public contracts which remain major corruption risks," said Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International.
Transparency International was established in 1993 to help raise awareness about corruption and to “stir the world’s collective conscience and bring about change”.
More than two thirds of the 177 countries in the 2013 index score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).
In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Denmark and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 91. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia this year make up the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each.
Last year Finland was also joint top with Denmark and New Zealand, with all three scoring 90 points each.
The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on experts’ opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by strong access to information systems and rules governing the behaviour of those in public positions, while a lack of accountability across the public sector coupled with ineffective public institutions hurts these perceptions.
Transparency International said corruption within the public sector remains one of the world’s biggest challenges, particularly in areas such as political parties, police and justice systems. The organisation added that public institutions need to be more open about their work and officials must be more transparent in their decision-making. Corruption remains notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute.
Future efforts to respond to climate change, economic crisis and extreme poverty will face a massive roadblock in the shape of corruption, Transparency International warned. International bodies like the G20 must crack down on money laundering, make corporations more transparent and pursue the return of stolen assets.
"It is time to stop those who get away with acts of corruption. The legal loopholes and lack of political will in government facilitate both domestic and cross-border corruption, and call for our intensified efforts to combat the impunity of the corrupt," said Labelle.