* Transparency International publishes annual list of graft
* Corruption appears to worsen in Turkey, China - study shows
* Ukraine has highest perceived level of graft in Europe
* Greece, Italy and Romania the EU’s lowest-ranked states (Adds Chinese government comment)
By Michael Nienaber
BERLIN, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Turkey and China’s rating on perceived corruption has fallen steeply, according to Transparency International (TI), and the global watchdog called for closer international cooperation to root out graft and abuses of power.
Transparency International issues an annual report measuring perceptions of graft rather than actual levels given the secrecy surrounding most corrupt dealings. It uses a scale where 100 stands for the most clean and 0 for the most corrupt.
The Berlin-based organisation published its 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index of 175 countries on Wednesday and it showed Turkey’s record had worsened the most precipitously in 2014, dropping by five points to 45.
A corruption scandal broke out in Turkey in late December last year, the worst since the Islamist-rooted AK Party came to power more than a decade ago.
China’s rating fell by four points to 36, even though the Beijing Communist government has launched a concerted campaign to weed out venal officials, the TI report said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the findings were seriously out of kilter with the government’s achievements on fighting graft.
“We believe that Transparency International is a group with a definite degree of influence internationally and ought to conscientiously examine the objectiveness and fairness of the index,” she told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
Beijing’s low score matched a poor performance by Chinese companies in the watchdog’s recent report on corporate disclosure practice.
“Grand corruption in big economies not only blocks basic human rights for the poorest but also creates governance problems and instability,” TI Chairman Jose Ugaz said in a statement in the report.
It urged states ranked at the bottom of the index to take radical anti-graft steps in their people’s interest. “Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don’t export corrupt practices to underdeveloped countries,” Ugaz said.
Corruption undermines economic growth and efforts to stop graft tend to fade when even high level officials abuse their power to embezzle public funds for personal gain, he said.
More than two thirds of the 175 countries in the index scored below 50 with Somalia, North Korea, Sudan, Afghanistan and South Sudan once again at the bottom.
The top performer was again Denmark with 92 points, a rise of one from last year, and New Zealand, Finland, Sweden and Norway again rounded out the top five.
Ukraine (26 points) remained the European country with the highest perceived level of graft. Italy, Greece and Romania (43) jointly scored the worst among the European Union member states.
TI also urged the EU, United States and G20 countries to follow Denmark’s lead and create a public register that includes beneficial ownership information for all incorporated companies.
Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Erik Kirschbaum and Mark Heinrich