International group rates world's nations by corruption Denmark is cleanest, Cameroon is dirtiest


UNITED NATIONS -- Transparency International, a small independent organization that has been tracking for four years how the public and international businesses view corruption worldwide, has published its largest survey to date, looking at 85 countries and ranking only one completely clean: Denmark.

The 1998 Corruption Perception Index, like its predecessors, is a "survey of surveys," using a combination of studies by risk analysts, opinion polls and research institutions to rank countries by how they are perceived.

"No surveying approach is perfect," Frank Vogl, vice president of Transparency International and a former World Bank official, said of the report released in late September. "At best we get a good set of impressions."

All but three of the top 10 countries in the least-corrupt category are European -- Denmark, followed by Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Iceland, Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.

At the other end of the scale, from the bottom up, are Cameroon, Paraguay, Honduras, Tanzania, Nigeria, Indonesia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador -- and Russia, Vietnam and Kenya in a tie.

The United States falls behind most European countries and Hong Kong, tying with Austria at 17th place.

The annual index has provoked criticisms from countries that rank low on the trust scale, among them Cameroon.

"The Cameroon government condemns strongly the arrogance of certain bodies that are in the pay of neo-colonial clusters of people at work to impede the progress of our countries instead of supporting efforts and sacrifices made by our people," the government said in an official radio announcement.

In September, the U.N. Development Program and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development joined forces to publish a study of anti-corruption initiatives in 25 countries that serve as models in the battle against bribery, money laundering and other impediments to economic growth.

"The international community's concern with corruption issues is not a passing phenomenon," top officials in the two organizations wrote in a preface to the report.

It called for "concrete measures -- preventive as well as punitive -- that address issues of accountability, transparency and inequity at various levels of social and economic systems."

Pub Date: 10/04/98

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