CNBC, TI, which country is most corrupt?

TI did it again!

TI (Transparency International) is one of the few international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that at least once a year generates worldwide publicity listing corruptness of countries in a ranking called Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI – note the plural of ‘perceptions’). One thing is sure: TI writes each year again that the only thing done is presenting figures about what people think are more or less corrupt countries. Governments and Media translate that immediately into facts! And the resulting rankings give always the poorest countries as the most corrupt and the wealthier countries as clean. What a coincidence.

Is there something wrong?

Germany scores on the 2012 list as nr. 13. In 2011 as nr. 14, top class ratings.

It is only some weeks ago that the President of TI amazed the world in the latest world conference of TI (the 15th IACC held in Brasilia) when she mentioned Germany as suffering in 2012 under a corruption-weight of 250 billion euros (9 zero’s). I asked the Secretariat in Berlin an explanation: Is Germany now one of the ‘cleanest’ or one of the ‘dirtiest’?
Some weeks of frantic e-mailing up and down: no answer to this question could be delivered.
Maybe there is something wrong with the methodology and research-techniques that are used in creating the ranking-list? This is what I have proven repeatedly. Nevertheless TI continues to produce the same bad results. Read now how CNBC translates the results as produced by TI-Berlin’ for her audiences.

121205, CNBC, TI, Which country is most corrupt?

Which Country Is Most Corrupt, and Which Is Least?

Published: Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012 | 12:00 AM ET by: Scott Cohn, CNBC Senior Correspondent

The U.S. may have the world’s largest economy, but it does not even crack the top 10 percent when it comes to a perceived lack of corruption.

That is just one of the findings in the 18th annual Corruption Perceptions Index released Wednesday by Transparency International, a global non-profit organization dedicated to fighting corruption.

The U.S. ranked 19th out of 176 countries in this year’s index, scoring 74 on a scale of zero to 100, where zero is “highly corrupt” and 100 is “very clean.” Transparency International says it scores each country using multiple sources of data on perceived corruption in the public sector.

(See the complete rankings at

“Corruption is the world’s most talked about problem,” said Transparency International Managing Director Cobus de Swardt in a statement. “The world’s leading economies should lead by example, making sure that their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable.”

Among the countries with scores higher than the United States are Hong Kong, which ranks 14th with a score of 77, Germany at 13th with a score of 79, and Canada and the Netherlands which tie for 9th place with a score of 84.

Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tied for the “cleanest” country this year, each scoring 90 in the index.

(Read More: 10 Corruption Hot Spots)
There is also a three-way tie for the most corrupt country, between Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan, which scored just eight points each.

“In these countries, the lack of accountable leadership and effective public institutions underscore the need to take a much stronger stance against corruption,” Transparency International said.

Transparency International, which has been issuing its corruption rankings since 1995, said it has updated its methodology this year. That, and the fact that the study ranks just 176 countries in 2012 versus 183 in 2011, makes year-to-year comparisons difficult.

[TI does not mention that although apparently it used another methodology, the top 25 and the bottom 25 countries of the ranking lists of 2011 and 2012 are – except for one or two countries difference – fully similar. How that? Michel van Hulten].

Nonetheless, the data suggest worsening corruption in some countries in turmoil. For example, Greece fell to 94th place in 2012 from 80th last year. Egypt ranks 118th in 2012, compared to 112th in 2011. Italy drops three places to 72nd.

Transparency International says it has consistently warned euro zone countries to deal with corruption as they tackle a financial crisis.

Despite a long history of pronouncements about corruption and a major crackdown after 9/11 attack, the U.S. has never been a stellar performer in the rankings. Last year, it recorded its worst finish ever at 24th.

New Zealand, Denmark and Finland, by contrast, have consistently finished at or near the top. New Zealand finished first last year, followed closely by Denmark and Finland in a tie for second place. Last year’s most corrupt countries were Somalia and North Korea.

Two countries profiled earlier this year in the CNBC Investigations Inc. documentary Filthy Rich remain among the more corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International.

(Read More: Greed Keeps Public Corruption, Bribery Alive)

The former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, which is home to abundant oil reserves and a key network of pipelines, ranks 139th with a score of 27—a slight improvement from last year’s 143rd place finish. The country has been the subject of international scrutiny over the business dealings of President Ilham Aliyev’s family.

Oil-rich Equatorial Guinea has also been the subject of international scrutiny, with the governments of the U.S. and France attempting to seize property linked to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago—the longest serving head of state in Africa—and his son, Minister of Forestry Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue. Equatorial Guinea improved to 163rd place in this year’s rankings, from 172nd in 2011.

—By CNBC’s Scott Cohn; Follow him on Twitter: @ScottCohnCNBC

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