Officials hiding ill-gotten gains undermine corruption fight-watchdog

Tue Dec 2, 2014 11:10pm EST
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By Kieran Guilbert

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Efforts to end corruption will be undermined as long as corrupt officials are able to hide their ill-gotten gains in other countries, a global watchdog said on Wednesday as it released its annual corruption rankings.

Transparency International (TI) said countries with limited public sector corruption could help stop it elsewhere by doing more to prevent money laundering and the creation of secret companies.

More than two-thirds of the 175 countries TI surveyed performed poorly, scoring less than 50 percent on its 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The index, which is based on perceived levels of public sector corruption for which scores are given by business people and country experts, rates countries from zero to 100 percent, zero being the most corrupt.

TI Chairman José Ugaz said the index showed that economic growth and efforts to stop graft were undermined when leaders and officials abused their power by appropriating public funds for personal gain.

"Corrupt officials smuggle ill-gotten assets into safe havens through offshore companies with absolute impunity," Ugaz said in a statement.

Denmark is seen as the least corrupt country in the world, topping the index for the third successive year, followed by New Zealand, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

North Korea and Somalia came last, faring worse than Sudan, Afghanistan and South Sudan.   Continued...