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The index ranks countries by perceived level of public sector corruption and bribery. It is a globally-recognised tool for benchmarking corruption and a key component in many companies' compliance risk assessment processes. Organisations can use the index as a benchmark to measure the countries that require enhanced due diligence and more detailed checks on third-parties, customers and potential business partners.
Perception of 2015
The 2015 Index shows that the fight against corruption is far from won. Two-thirds of the 168 countries indexed scored below 50, where 0 is perceived to be highly corrupt and 100 is perceived to be very clean. Accentuating the positive, more countries improved their scores in 2015 than declined.
For the second year in a row Denmark was ranked as the least corrupt country in the world, with North Korea and Somalia performing worst, scoring just 8 points each. Although the majority of countries increased their score in 2015, key countries stand out for recent declines: Australia has steadily declined from 85 in 2013 to 79 this year, and Spain has declined from 65 in 2013 to 58.
Brazil was the biggest faller in the index, dropping five points and seven positions to a rank of 76: last year Brazil scored 43, but this dropped to 38 this year. The ongoing Petrobras scandal is the biggest corruption scandal in Brazilian history and has demonstrated the country's intent to crack down on corruption. The scandal brought people to the streets in March 2015, with more than 1.5 million turning out to rally against corruption, and in August hundreds of thousands gathered again for an anti-corruption demonstration.
With a score of 81, the UK is one of the standout improvers this year, rising three spots to 10th place. Yet the picture remains complex and how much this is due to genuine reform has yet to be seen. Equally, for companies in the UK that enter into joint ventures, acquire foreign businesses, or have global supply chains, being aware of corruption overseas and carrying out enhanced due diligence is the only way to minimise risks to their businesses.
Opposition to corruption goes public
Citizens around the world are harnessing the power of demonstrations and social media to call for real change. This is a key theme Transparency International has picked out in its 2015 report.
José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International, commented, "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."
In September thousands of people took part in a large anti-corruption protest in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau. The country, which ranked 103 on the 2015 Index, scored 33 in 2015. Despite being a marked improvement from its 2013 score of 26, this was down from 35 over the past two years.
In August widespread corruption led to huge demonstrations in Iraq, one of the lowest scoring countries on the index. Significantly youth groups were the driving force behind many of the demonstrations, suggesting that some progress might be made over the next few years.
Anti-corruption: still a long way to go
Other protests have demonstrated that public sector corruption is still significantly affecting entire countries. In December, the arrest of a group of 37 activists in Thailand ahead of a planned anti-corruption protest was the latest evidence of the country's military government using unreasonable and arbitrary powers to detain and silence peaceful activists in the country.
Open government, where citizens can hold their leadership to account, remains the clear route to reducing systemic corruption. Top performers in the Corruption Perceptions Index share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to Government budget information; high levels of integrity among people in power; and a truly objective and independent judiciary.
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