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What Are The World's Most Corrupt Countries?

In January 2016, Transparency International released its annual Corruption Index. This

data ranks nearly every country’s perceived corruption based on levels of bribery, illegitimate

government spending and lack of anti-corruption measures. Year after year, many of the same

countries are at the bottom of the list. So which countries take up these spots? And why

are they so corrupt?

Well, as of the end of 2015, the three most corrupt countries are Afghanistan, Somalia

and North Korea. Much of Afghanistan’s prevailing corruption is linked to misuse of aid money

given to the country from international donors. The Afghan government pledged to combat this

issue in 2012, however little progress has been made, as public officials benefit the

most from this type of corruption. Somalia suffers from a similar problem. A report by

the World Bank showed that roughly $130 million dollars of donor funds to the federal government

had gone missing over just two years. What’s more, Somalia’s private enterprises pay

little or no taxes to the state, but instead pay optional fees to government officials

who support their company’s interests. By contrast, bribes in North Korea are mostly

paid by citizens. For example, North Koreans who are looking for a better job must pay

a public official to assign them one, as all citizens are selected for jobs by the government.

What these three and most corrupt countries have in common is armed conflict and political

oppression, which are environments where public sector corruption particularly thrive.

The country that took the biggest tumble was Brazil, which dropped seven positions in just

one year. This is due in part to the Petrobras scandal, in which Brazilian politicians allegedly

took millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for awarding public contracts. The incident

slowed investments in energy and construction, costing tens of thousands of Brazilians to

lose their jobs. However Brazil could see a turnaround in 2016, as mass public protests

have pressured the government to introduce anti-corruption legislation.

In contrast, northern Europe saw the least corruption in 2015, with Denmark, Finland

and Sweden at the top of the list. Scandinavian countries repeatedly rank well in corruption

studies, mainly because they allow public access to the government’s budget information,

so citizens can see exactly where public money comes from and how it’s spent. These countries

also have high levels of press freedom and a judicial system that does not base decisions

on a person’s income.

Still, no country is completely free of corruption. In fact, even the highest ranking countries

have been linked to unlawful deals outside their borders. The best example of this is

TeliaSonera, a company partially owned by the Swedish state, which allegedly paid millions

of dollars in bribes to Uzbekistan in order to secure business there. However incidents

like this are not factored into the corruption index, because it only reflects government

corruption within a country’s borders - not corruption overseas or in the private sector.

But despite alleged corruption in supposedly un-corrupt countries, more countries are moving

up the index than are moving down. According to the world bank, one of the best ways to

combat corruption is to create policies that thoroughly investigate and report government

spending. Still, more than 6 billion people live under corrupt governments. And until

more countries adopt similar policies, that number is likely to increase.

If you want a closer look at corruption issues in individual countries, like Brazil, check

out our corruption playlist. Thanks for watching Test Tube News, don’t forget to like and

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