Germany slipped one notch in the annual survey of countries ranked by their levels of corruption compiled by Berlin-based NGO Tranparency International. Some are not surprised.
Too many hands in the till
This year, Germany ranked the 16th cleanest country out of 159 surveyed, according to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index 2005, slipping from its 15th place finish last year. Some officials are attributing the slide to recent scandals and to a lack of government anti-corruption measures.
"The frequency of corruption cases that we have had to deal with in the past months has taken some people by surprise, but not us." Peter von Blomberg with Transparency Deutschland, the local arm of the organization, told German news agency DPA.
He referred to recent corruption scandals such as the one plaguing Germany's stock exchange and added that instead of tackling corruption problems themselves, representatives of the business community have been fighting the publication of corruption studies such as this latest one.
Iceland is cleanest
The corruption survey reports that serious levels of corruption exist in two thirds of the 159 countries examined, and that there was a clear link between poverty and corruption.
Poverty breeds corruption, Transparency says
The report found that Chad, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan and Myanmar were perceived as the most corrupt countries in the world, while Iceland was the cleanest. Most of the countries that landed at the bottom of the list were in Africa, while those which came in at the top were industrialized Asian and western countries.
The nations perceived as the most corrupt also rank among the world's poorest, which shows how corruption and poverty feed off each other, according to the report.
"Corruption is a major cause of poverty as well as a barrier to overcoming it," locking poor countries in "a cycle of misery," said Transparency International Chairman Peter Eigen. "Corruption must be vigorously addressed if aid is to make a real difference in freeing people from poverty."
Severe corruption problem
Despite progress on many fronts, including the soon-to-be-implemented United Nations Convention against Corruption, 70 countries scored less than three on the CPI, indicating a severe corruption problem, the report said.
The CPI index score relates to perceptions of the degree of
corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10, which is highly clean and zero, which is highly corrupt.
For example, the United States was ranked 17th with a score of 7.6.
Peter Eigen, right, says countries must do more against corruption
Iceland topped the list with a score of 9.7, followed by Finland (9.6), New Zealand (9.6), Denmark (9.5), Singapore (9.4), Sweden (9.2), Switzerland (9.1) Norway (8.9), Australia (8.8) and Austria (8.7).
Ahead of Germany's score of 8.2 were the Netherlands, Britain, Luxembourg, Canada and Hong Kong. France, Belgium and Ireland came in at 18th, 19th and 20th, respectively. Italy ranked 40th. New EU countries such as Poland fared worse, coming in at 70th place. Bottom of the list was Chad (1.7), followed by Bangladesh (1.7), Turkmenistan (1.8), Myanmar (1.8) and Haiti (1.8).