Brazil, Turkey rise most in 2015 Corruption Index

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Jan. 27, 2016 at 10:36 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Brazil and Turkey saw the largest increases in the perception of corruption as North Korea and Somalia continue to dominate the annual Corruption Index.

Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index of perceived level of public sector corruption includes 168 countries and territories. North Korea and Somalia are tied as the countries perceived to be most corrupt -- their fourth year topping the list -- followed by Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan and Angola.

The index illustrates a link in corruption with countries entrenched in conflict or poverty. Five of the 10 most corrupt countries are among the 10 least peaceful places in the world.

"Even where there's not open conflict, the levels of inequality and poverty in these countries are devastating," Transparency International writes in a report. "In Angola, 70 percent of the population live on $2 a day or less. One in six children die before the age of five -- making it the deadliest place in the world to be a child."

"More than 150,000 children die each year. But not everyone's suffering" in Angola, Transparency International adds. "Dubbed Africa's youngest billionaire, Isabel dos Santos made her $3.4 billion fortune from the national diamond and telecommunications business. She's also the president's daughter."

The perception of corruption in Brazil increased amid Petrobras corruption scandal, in which more than 39 people have been indicted on corruption, money laundering and racketeering. The country saw the largest drop in score this year -- from 43 points in 2014 to 38 in 2015 on a scale of zero to 100, 100 being least corrupt. It shares 76th place with India, Burkina Faso and Thailand.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff headed Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company, as apparent bribery took place. She was exonerated by authorities, but senior members of her government have been charged.

The Brazilian Federal Police said the indicted members of the group moved more than $3.9 billion in what police term as "atypical" financial transactions.

Turkey's perceived corruption level increased due to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ambitions to expand presidential power and government influence, particularly after winning a recent election.

On the opposite end of the corruption spectrum are Denmark, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada and Germany. The United States ranks 16th in countries seen as least corrupt.

But even countries that rank least corrupt in the index are accused of questionable actions. Sweden is accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to secure business in Uzbekistan through a company the Swedish government partially owns.

"Corruption can be beaten if we work together," Transparency International Chair José Ugaz said in a statement. "To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough."

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