Australia has dropped out of the top 10 least corrupt countries in the world as it slips down the rankings for the second year in a row, according to a survey.
Transparency International found that scandals over note printing and the country’s own corruption probes had worsened perceptions and pushed it down to number 11 out of 175 countries – four positions lower than 2012.
But that is still three places above Britain, languishing at number 14 with a score of 78, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 very clean.
A spokesperson for Transparency International said the organisation recognised the UK’s “gradual progress” in recent years, particularly the Bribery Act, by raising its score by two points.
“But there is more to do, the UK should be in the top 10,” he added. “The result next year may depend on the government’s upcoming anti-corruption action plan and whether the new government, post-May, sticks to commitments made within it.”
Denmark came top of the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, which is based on expert analysis of public sector sleaze, followed by New Zealand, Finland and Sweden.
North Korea and Somalia were ranked last with just eight points and the situation is worsening in several conflict-torn countries, including Iraq and Syria.
The decline of Australia, which came third behind New Zealand and Singapore in the Asia Pacific region with a score of 80, was put down to denial creating delays investigating corruption.
Professor A.J. Brown, the director of Transparency International in Australia, said a stronger national anti-corruption agency was needed as part of an overhauled strategy.
“Most of the federal public sector continues to lack effective independent oversight,” he told The Australian.
“Questions about the effectiveness of our accountability institutions continue to mount at the federal level.
“New revelations of links between some unions and organised crime add to concerns about the real capacity of federal and state governments to keep on top of corruption, such as revealed at the Australian Wheat Board, the Reserve Bank companies, Customs and other agencies long presumed to be above reproach.”
The biggest decline was seen in Turkey, despite its economic growth, down five points to 45.
Transparency International’s report said endemic corruption had been revealed at the “highest levels of business and Government”, with “images of gold bars and millions of dollars stuffed in shoeboxes, coupled with incriminating videos, the firing or resignation of government ministers, multiple arrests and sadly, a number of suicides”.
Turkey was also slated for the Government’s crackdown on political enemies, the firing of police officers and prosecutions and the harsh response to anti-corruption protests.
China’s score also fell by four points, despite a well-publicised crackdown on corrupt “tigers” and “flies” in public administration.
José Ugaz, the chairman of Transparency International, said the index demonstrated that economic growth is undermined if efforts to combat corruption fade.
“Corrupt officials smuggle ill-gotten assets into safe havens through offshore companies with absolute impunity,” he added. “Countries at the bottom need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favour of their people. Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don’t export corrupt practices to underdeveloped countries.”
The biggest improvers were deemed to be Côte d´Ivoire, Egypt, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, adding five points, and Afghanistan, Jordan, Mali and Swaziland rising four.
Transparency International is running a campaign called Unmask the Corrupt, urging European Union, United States and G20 countries to follow Denmark’s lead and create public registers that would make clear who really controls, every company and make it harder for criminals to hide behind other names.
The 20 'least corrupt' countries in the world
1 Denmark 92
2 New Zealand 91
3 Finland 89
4 Sweden 87
5 Norway 86
5 Switzerland 86
7 Singapore 84
8 Netherlands 83
9 Luxembourg 82
10 Canada 81
11 Australia 80
12 Germany 79
12 Iceland 79
14 United Kingdom 78
15 Belgium 76
15 Japan 76
17 Barbados 74
17 Hong Kong 74
17 Ireland 74
17 United States 74
The 20 'most corrupt' countries in the world
156 Cambodia 21
156 Myanmar 21
156 Zimbabwe 21
159 Burundi 20
159 Syria 20
161 Angola 19
161 Guinea-Bissau 19
161 Haiti 19
161 Venezuela 19
161 Yemen 19
166 Eritrea 18
166 Libya 18
166 Uzbekistan 18
169 Turkmenistan 17
170 Iraq 16
171 South Sudan 15
172 Afghanistan 12
173 Sudan 11
174 Korea (North)8
174 Somalia 8
Rankings and scores by Transparency International
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