Nigeria tops world league of sleaze

The bad news: corruption around the world is as bad as it was. The good news: it is a bigger international issue than ever before. The consequence: things have a chance of getting better in the medium or longer term. That, in effect, is the message contained in a report published yesterday by the Berlin-based organisation, Transparency International.

The organisation focuses on corruption worldwide, and produces an annual index of the perceived goodies and baddies. Nigeria, unsurprisingly, is the worst of the lot. The Nordic countries walk off with the prizes - Denmark, Finland and Sweden hold first, second and third place respectively as the "Mr Cleans" of the world, and Norway comes in at number seven.

Just behind Nigeria come Bolivia, Colombia and Russia. But Transparency International is at pains to emphasise that the blame does not just lie with the developing countries which cluster at the bottom of the list. In the words of Peter Eigen, chairman of Transparency International: "A large share of the corruption is the explicit product of multinational corporations, headquartered in leading industrialised countries, using massive bribery and kickbacks to buy contracts in the developing world and the countries in transition [namely, the post-Communist economies]".

The organisation is also keen to emphasise that better governance, with less corruption, can have spin-offs for commercial success and national prosperity. The authors point to a comparative study of Singapore (number nine on the list) and Mexico (sixth from bottom) which suggests that the difference in levels of corruption is equivalent to raising the marginal tax rate by 20 per cent - with huge knock-on implications for inward investment. In Mr Eigen's words: "Every day, the poor scores [in the corruption index] are not being dealt with means more impoverishment, less education, less health care."

The publication of the index has sometimes had remarkable knock-on effects. In Pakistan, which came off second worst in last year's index, the index itself became a national reference point. In Malaysia, the government reacted angrily to its low ranking, and complained of Western "cultural imperialism". The chairman of the advisory council is Olusegun Obasanjo, the respected former Niger- ian leader who was jailed by the present regime. One of the British members is Ian Martin, a former secretary-general of Amnesty International - another reminder of the organisation's non- partisan status.

Transparency International admits that there can be no precisely "objective" measurement of corruption. None the less, the index is compiled from a poll of business polls, and therefore gives a revealing consensus view. Where there is large variance in perceptions, this is indicated. Because a minimum of four polls is required before a country can be included in the list, Nigeria can take comfort in the fact that it may not be the most corrupt country in the world - merely the country whose corruption has been most thoroughly attested to.

The new international focus on corruption may be yet another unexpected result of the end of the Cold War. One early knock-on effect in Africa was that democracy suddenly ceased to be an irrelevant concept. For decades, the Soviet Union and the West had backed different dictatorships, caring little about the implications for the continent's peoples. As the superpower rivalry fell away, so, too, did the strength of those regimes. Now, the spotlight is on corruption, perceived as a reinforcement of existing poverty. The light may be shining, but nobody is expecting the early arrival of a bribe-free world.

Best and worst

Most corrupt*






Least corrupt




New Zealand


(*of the 52 countries with sufficient evidence to make a ranking)

(*of the 52 countries with sufficient evidence to make a ranking)

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam