Winners and Losers in the 2014 Corruption Perception Index

Every year, Transparency International (TI) asks the question, “which countries are the most corrupt?” In their highly anticipated Corruption Perception Index, TI gives us a look at what countries are moving in the right direction – and which ones are sliding backward.

In the “less corrupt” category, Scandinavian countries still rank high, while Denmark takes top honors. On the other end of the list, Somalia and North Korea tied for the dubious distinction of “most corrupt.” Close behind them are Sudan, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Iraq.

According to TI, the Corruption Perceptions Index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by open government where the public can hold leaders to account, while a poor score is a sign of prevalent bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs.

The scores of several countries rose or fell by four points or more. The biggest falls were in Turkey (-5), Angola, China, Malawi and Rwanda (all -4). The biggest improvers were Côte d´Ivoire, Egypt, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (+5), Afghanistan, Jordan, Mali and Swaziland (+4).

One of the most interesting aspects of this year's Index, and one that is being heavily reported in the global media, is the status of China. Over the past year, the nation seriously ramped up its anti-corruption efforts – at least by all appearances – and took a strong stance against fraud, both within its borders and beyond. Unfortunately, though, its campaign is not yet moving the needle in a positive direction. As TI reports, China’s score fell to 36 in 2014 from 40 in 2013, despite the fact the Chinese government launched an anti-corruption campaign targeting corrupt public officials.

Good news for those doing business in Dubai: as reported in The National, UAE was ranked the “least corrupt nation in Arab world” in this year's Index. It's a strong placement, but it leaves room to grow:

The UAE has scored highest among the Arab countries but it still has a long way to go,” said Kinda Hattar, the regional coordinator at Transparency International. “In terms of national laws the UAE lacks a lot of legislation up to international standards,” Ms Hattar said. “There are limited access to information laws, no protection for whistleblowers, public officials are granted impunity and civil society is very weak. There’s also a lack of transparency in public sector procurement processes,” she said.

Canada was ranked 10th, the United Kingdom was ranked 14th. Japan was ranked 15th and the U.S. was ranked 17th. Russia was ranked a poor 136.

For the full rankings, visit TI's website at transparency.org/cpi2014.