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  • 26Oct

    US Rank Worsens In Annual Corruption Survey

    [FROM NYT] PARIS — Perceptions of corruption in the United States have worsened over the last year, knocking it out of the top 20 in global rankings released Tuesday by the watchdog group Transparency International.

    The top and bottom three countries on the list remain unchanged from 2009: Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore are seen as having the world’s cleanest governments, while Somalia, Afghanistan and Myanmar, are seen to have the most corrupt.

    Finland, Sweden, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland and Norway rounded out the top 10. Japan ranked 17, Britain ranked 20.

    The United States, which ranked 19th in 2009, fell to 22. Also falling in the rankings were the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Madagascar and Niger. “Notable among decliners are some of the countries most affected by a financial crisis precipitated by transparency and integrity deficits,” the organization said.

    Nancy Boswell, the head of the organization’s U.S. branch, told Reuters that the subprime crisis, the disclosure of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and political funding disputes had hurt America’s ranking.

    “We’re not talking about corruption in the sense of breaking the law,” she told Reuters. “We’re talking about a sense that the system is corrupted by these practices.”

    The study also found that of the 36 industrialized countries party to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development convention banning the bribery of foreign officials, “as many as 20 show little or no enforcement of the rules, sending the wrong signal about their commitment to curb corrupt practices.”

    “These results signal that significantly greater efforts must go into strengthening governance across the globe,” Huguette Labelle, a former Canadian civil servant who serves as chairwoman of Transparency International, said in a statement. “With the livelihoods of so many at stake, governments’ commitments to anti-corruption, transparency and accountability must speak through their actions.”

    China ranked 78, up from 79 last year, according to the 2010 corruption perceptions index. The index, which seeks to gauge domestic, public sector corruption, is figured with data compiled from surveys of country experts and business leaders, and relies on perceptions rather than legal findings, which can differ sharply across borders depending on enforcement.

    The annual survey found that “nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption), indicating a serious corruption problem.”

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