Transparency International has released its 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, deeming more than two-thirds of the countries surveyed as "very corrupt." The usual suspects occupied both ends of the league table.
Only 53 of 176 countries surveyed attained a "passing grade" of 50 out of 100 in Transparency International's annual corruption report.
Two typical trios bookended the index, with Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand all tied on 90 at the top. Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan shared the ignominious end of Transparency's table, scoring just eight.
"A growing outcry over corrupt governments forced several leaders from office last year, but as the dust has cleared it has become apparent that the levels of bribery, abuse of power and secret dealings are still very high in many countries," Transparency said when releasing its Corruption Perceptions Index.
Within the EU, sovereign debt strugglers Greece (36), Italy (42), Portugal (63), and Spain (65) fared relatively poorly - though both of the Iberian peninsula countries made the top 33, ahead of countries including Israel, the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Russia and China. Greece was the EU's worst performer.
Germany climbed the rankings to 13th, with a score of 79 - just trailing Luxembourg and beating Hong Kong by a couple of points.
Transparency points to trickle-down effect
As a geographic region, Scandinavia swept the board as usual. Sweden was fourth in line after joint leaders Denmark and Finland, with Norway bagging seventh spot with a score of 85.
The world's largest economy, the US, could only manage a score of 73 - 19th in the standings, between the UK and Chile. China, meanwhile, logged only 39 points, scraping into the top half in 80th place.
Transparency's Managing Director Cobus de Swardt said the world's top economies should "lead by example" and ensure "their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable."
"This is crucial since their institutions play a significant role in preventing corruption from flourishing globally," de Swardt said.
msh/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)