Finland again among least corrupt countries - in Russia corruption runs rampant
It is that time of year again, when Finland's perceived incorruptibility gets a new coat of varnish. According to the 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released on Wednesday by the Berlin-based NGO Transparency International (TI), the three least corrupt countries in the world are Finland, Denmark, and New Zealand.
On a scale of zero to ten, Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand are all rated at 9.4.
At the other end of the scale are Myanmar and Somalia with a score of 1.4. At the same time, Russia was rated at 2.3, meaning that the border between Finland and Russia is arguably the world's most abrupt in terms of bribery and corruption.
Transparency International notes that corruption in Finland's eastern neighbour "runs rampant". The CPI indicates that in terms of corruption the rift between Finland and Russia is apparently more insurmountable than the one between the United States and Mexico.
Finnish officials, together with their Danish and New Zealander counterparts have been found to take fewer bribes than their colleagues in many other countries. The same countries have in fact headed the Corruption Perceptions Index for years.
Although Finland was again deemed to be one of the least-corrupt countries, Transparency International said that the country’s record has been somewhat blemished as a consequence of some bribery scandals that have surfaced in recent years.
Actually, publicity can have an effect on the results, as perceived corruption levels are assessed primarily by business executives in the countries concerned. The interviewees themselves do not necessarily have any experience of their own with respect to bribery.
All Nordic countries were among the top ten least-corrupt nations based on the latest Index, which ranks 180 countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians in each country. Sweden was in the joint fourth place, while Russia was down in 143rd.
Among the larger countries, the USA occupied 20th place, while the UK was 12th, Germany was 16th and France 19th.
The 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index confirmed that a strong correlation between corruption and poverty continues to be evident. Forty per cent of those scoring below three, indicating that corruption is perceived as rampant, are classified by the World Bank as low income countries.
The 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index looks at perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories. It scores countries on a scale from zero to ten, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and ten indicating low levels of perceived corruption.
The Index is a handy yardstick, but has occasionally been criticised for concentrating on the corruption of state and local officials.
European countries like Finland, with highly transparent societies, do not leave much room for corruption among officialdom. Public tenders, public access to documents, and other features of the administrative process make the routine buying-off of officials almost impossible.
However, the lists might look rather different if business-to-business corruption were to be assayed. At least the scores would decline from the lofty levels of 9.4 on a scale of ten.
An example of the anomalies that exist in such surveys comes in the case of Germany, which continued to score well on the Corruption Perception Index, in spite of the extremely large and well-documented Siemens corruption scandal. Other European cases include the massive fines levied for running price-fixing cartels, either in the elevator business or among allegedly competing airlines.
These corrupt practices apparently do not show up in the tables: rottenness in the business culture is not manifested in the TI indices.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finland is again one of world´s least corrupt nations (7.11.2006)
Transparency International press release 26.9.2007