Special Report

The Most Corrupt Countries in the World

More than half of the world’s population believes corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem. According to Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, more than two-thirds of the 175 countries reviewed received a score of less than 50 on a scale of 0-100. While no country is absolutely corruption-free, the level varies considerably between countries. Denmark, the least corrupt country, scored 92. At the other end, Somalia and North Korea tied for the most corrupt with a score of 8.

The index, released annually for the past 20 years, considers the levels of bribery, embezzlement, freedom of information, and other corrupt practices. It does not, however, capture all forms of corruption. It is difficult to measure the bribery practices of multinational corporations while doing business abroad, for example. In addition, the Corruption Perceptions Index scores are not based on the views of ordinary people. Rather, the rank is based on the opinions of “internationally focused experts.”

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In many of these nations, public opinion differs substantially from the experts’ opinion — and the index score. While more than half of people around the world think corruption is a very serious problem, less than one-third of country residents claimed it was a serious problem in four of the most corrupt nations. Public sector corruption may be so commonplace in many of these countries that it is no longer questioned.

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In many cases, country residents may have no choice other than to participate in corrupt practices. More than 20% of residents in all but two of the countries on this list with available data said bribes were the only way to obtain services. In South Sudan and Libya, more than 50% of people thought bribery essential to obtaining services.

One third of the world’s population strongly disagree that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. In six of the most corrupt countries, far higher percentages of people strongly disagreed they could make a difference.

Bribes are frequently used in a majority of the most corrupt nations, especially to obtain everyday services. While 31% of people globally have paid a bribe to police at some point in their lives, more than 50% of people in five of the most corrupt nations had done so. Bribes were also quite common in the use of other public services in these nations. Residents in all of these countries were more likely than people globally to have paid a bribe for utilities service, for example.

A recent OECD report found there are most likely far more foreign bribes in extractive sectors than in any other industry. According to Transparency International, oil and gas companies in particular are liable to facilitate corrupt deals with national governments. Many of these companies protect the identities of their clients and do not publish information by country. Among other problematic issues such a veil of secrecy brings, this also allows corrupt country leaders to disguise stolen funds. Iraq, Libya, and Venezuela, are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a cartel that plays a huge role in determining global oil supplies. Sudan and South Sudan are also heavily dependent on their shared oil industries.

According to Transparency International, oil production will also increasingly come from developing nations, which disproportionately make up the most corrupt countries. Many of the most corrupt nations remain among the world’s less-developed and poorest. Seven of the most corrupt countries with available data had GDPs per capita of less than $5,000 in 2013. The United States, by contrast, had a GDP per capita of more than $53,000 in 2013. This figure was exceptionally low in Burundi, which had a GDP per capita of just $877.

In order to identify the 12 most corrupt countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the lowest 12 index scores from Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index of 175 countries. Nations were assessed by experts as part of a variety of data sources. Country-resident survey data came from Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, which surveyed residents in 107 countries. National economic data came from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). GDP per capita figures are based on purchasing power parity.

These are the most corrupt countries in the world.

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