Every year Transparency International ranks (most of) the countries in the world according to the amount of perceived corruption within their borders. One of the most telling results of the annual survey is the fact that no country receives a perfect score. In fact, the highest score is 92/100 which was achieved by Denmark. After that, however, the rankings drop of fairly quickly as it seems that no country is exempt from the consequences of human nature. In spite of this, these are 25 of the least corrupt countries in the world.
United Arab Emirates
Although corruption is not very widespread, following the recent financial crisis several cases of high profile fraud have come to light and exposed areas that need work. While the government has shown itself dedicated to reducing corruption, lack of transparency in the judicial system along with several other issues have slowed progress. In spite of this, public services are offered efficiently and in a manner that has attracted large amounts of foreign investment.
While petty corruption with regards to business and daily life is relatively low, political corruption is much higher. Transparency has been an issue and public polls tend to show a general distrust of politicians and political parties.
Although in general corruption is low, recent political scandals have highlighted corruption in the government. Furthermore, unlike many other nations on this list, facilitation payments are not considered illegal.
Following right on the heels of its South American partner, Uruguay has made large strides in the past 15 years primarily due to its government’s consistent commitment to becoming more transparent.
In spite of recent political corruption scandals, Chile is still ranked as the least corrupt nation in South America. As with most of the other countries on this list, business and daily life are not impacted to any notable extent by corruption.
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Following the recent financial crisis, corruption in the financial sector has received significant attention and political corruption has been a long running issue. In spite of these setbacks, the United States maintains extensive anti-corruption legislation and has a very decentralized structure with states retaining a good amount of power.
Its corruption index is slightly lower than the average for Western Europe and it has struggled in the recent past with both politicians and business leaders being accused of corruption, fraud, and bribery. In recent years, however, the situation has improved somewhat.
Although it used to rank higher than Japan, USA, and the UK, the question of whether Hong Kong will be able to maintain its current standards now that it is a part of China still remains.
Ranked as the least corrupt Caribbean country, there are low levels of bribery and fraud in the business sector and the government has maintained commitments to provide efficient social and public services.
Enjoying relatively high levels of economic freedom, corruption does not play a very big role in business or daily life. There is, however, one area that drags the country down in international rankings. Japanese companies practice something called “amakudari” which basically consists of assigning retired government officials to top positions in the business. This is quite common in the financial, pharmaceutical, transportation, and construction sectors.
Public trust in civil service and in the judiciary is high and perception of corruption is relatively low. There are a few areas, however, that need some improvement. One of these would be more whistleblower protection.
In spite of some isolated incidences of abuse regarding political power, corruption plays a relatively small role in business and daily life. The UK continues to maintain effective anti-corruption legislation and frameworks for fighting corruption both at home and abroad.
While corruption does not affect day to day life, the political system has been affected by nepotism, close business/political relationships, and fallout from the 2008 financial crisis.
Health, construction, and public procurement have been reported to be the most corrupt sectors in Germany and petty corruption has been an issue in the past. As in most of the European Union, however, it is not an impediment to business. A strong legal system and increased anti-corruption measures have been successful in their aims.
The media, trade unions, and political parties are seen by the public as being Australia’s most corrupt institutions. Although corruption as a whole remains low and is not an impediment to daily life, risks do remain. There is no significant anti-corruption legislation in place and foreign bribes have been an issue.
Corruption has generally not been a problem in Canada but in recent years it has popped up a few times. The country does not have any significant anti-bribery measures in place and 30% of business executives claimed that bribery and corruption are an issue.
Although corruption is generally very low, public perception of political parties is not very high and 53% of people saw them as being corrupt. There is also a relatively high level of business/political intermingling and no code of conduct addressing corrupt practices. As we said though, corruption remains low.
A culture of trust, an independent judiciary, and effective anti-corruption mechanisms all work together to create a culture where corruption is not much of a problem.
Situated in a part of the world where corruption is often times taken for granted, Singapore’s harsh measures have pushed it far ahead of its neighbors when it comes to tackling corruption.
Although political parties are perceived by the public to be the most corrupt entity in the country, there is almost no hindrance to obtaining public services and most sectors are considered corruption free.
Administrative corruption and petty bribery are virtually unheard of. Companies and individuals can even be prosecuted for corruption offenses committed abroad.
The legal and institutional framework in Sweden is considered very effective in fighting corruption and government agencies are characterized by a high degree of transparency.
With a virtually non-existent level of administrative corruption, citizens and business are unlikely to face corruption when dealing with public officials.
This Pacific nation is fairly consistently ranked just behind Denmark.
With an active push for more transparency in politics along with increased corporate responsibility, Denmark is once again ranked as the least corrupt nation on Earth.