Businesses looking to do deals internationally would be best to avoid North Korea, Afghanistan and Somalia, with the three nations ranked equal-last on a survey of corrupt countries.
Abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery were among the issues these countries faced, along with more than two thirds of countries which were ranked as “highly corrupt” in the research.
The results, from the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for 2013, rated 177 countries with a score from zero to 100. Countries with a score under 50 fell into the “highly corrupt” category.
The countries perceived to be most free of corruption were Denmark at number one, followed by New Zealand, Finland and Sweden.
Australia ranked equal ninth with Canada, ahead of Germany at 12, United Kingdom at 14 and the United States at 19.
Australia dropped four points compared to 2012. TIA executive director Michael Ahrens said the decline may be attributed to the prosecution of Securency and Note Printing Australia executives, findings of ICAC in relation to Eddie Obeid and the corruption in the New South Wales government at the time.
The chair of Transparency International, Huguette Labelle, said in a statement that the index shows that “all countries still face 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,” Labelle said.
“Still, the better performers face issues like state capture, campaign finance and the oversight of big public contracts which remain major corruption risks.”
One of the biggest challenges found internationally was corruption in the public sector.
“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,” Labelle said.
The Index is based on experts’ opinions of public sector corruption. Scores can rise with strong access to information systems and rules governing the behaviour of those in public positions.