October 18, 2005

Bangladesh, Chad come bottom of corruption list

By Gideon Long

LONDON (Reuters) - Bangladesh and Chad are among the most
corrupt countries in the world, rife with bribery and nepotism
which condemns millions of people to poverty, a report
published on Tuesday said.

The two states came bottom in Transparency International's
(TI) Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005, which drew on 16
surveys from 10 independent institutions to produce a "poll of
polls" on corruption levels in 159 countries.

Russia, a member of the Group of 8 leading industrial
powers, was perceived to be as corrupt as Niger and Sierra
Leone, while Turkmenistan, with one of the most authoritarian
governments in central Asia, slipped into the bottom five.

Iceland topped the list, which awards marks out of 10 to
each country, displacing last year's winner Finland.

The United States and Iraq both improved slightly on their
scores from a year ago.

The surveys covered a range of corrupt practices including
bribery, awarding contracts to friends and relatives,
corruption in the judiciary and misuse of public office.

While TI says the index deals only with perceptions of
graft rather than actual proof, it believes the list gives an
accurate picture of corruption around the world. About 50
countries are not included in the list because of a lack of
accurate data.

"The levels of corruption in Bangladesh and Chad are
extremely serious and have devastating consequences for
ordinary people, who have to pay bribes simply to get things
which they're entitled to," said TI's chief executive David

Bangladesh and Chad scored just 1.7 out of 10 in the index,
compared to Iceland's 9.7.

The United States, the world's biggest economy, scored 7.6,
making it 17th in the list.

Iraq crept up to 2.2 from 2.1 but was still perceived to be
the most corrupt country in the Middle East.

"There have clearly been serious questions raised about
some of the contracts that were awarded in the immediate
aftermath of the war in Iraq," Nussbaum told Reuters.

"In an environment where the rule of law is still to be
fully established, ensuring that there's no corruption is an
extremely difficult thing to do."

Russia slumped to 126th in the list from 90th last year.

"(This) can be linked to the reduction in the transparency
of government activities in recent years, as well as a
crackdown on independent organizations and the media," TI said.

Africa was once again the most corrupt continent, with 31
out of 44 countries surveyed scoring less than 3 out of 10.

TI also said it was worried money earmarked for
humanitarian relief in countries hit by last December's tsunami
might have been siphoned off by corrupt officials.

It praised Indonesia for trying to tackle corruption but
saw less evidence that Sri Lanka was doing the same.

"Corruption isn't a natural disaster," Nussbaum said. "It
is the cold, calculated theft of opportunity from the men,
women and children who are least able to protect themselves."

(For a FACTBOX on the best and the worst countries
double-click on. For a separate story on how the index ranked
African countries see)