Afghanistan, Iraq among world's most corrupt nations: NGO
Iraq and Afghanistan came near the top of a global list of perceived corruption published Tuesday by watchdog Transparency International, despite efforts to stamp out graft in the war-torn nations.
Nearly three-quarters of the 178 countries in TI's annual survey scored worse than average on the scale, which ranges from zero (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption).
"The results indicate a serious corruption problem," the Berlin-based anti-sleaze body said.
"Allowing corruption to continue is unacceptable; too many poor and vulnerable people continue to suffer its consequences around the world," said TI's president Huguette Labelle.
"There should be nowhere to hide for the corrupt or their money," she added.
Iraq was fourth from top of the most corrupt ranking, Myanmar shared second place with Afghanistan and lawless Somalia was considered the world's most corrupt country, with a score of 1.1.
At the other end of the scale, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore were seen as the nations least blighted by corruption, scoring 9.3 points.
They were followed by Finland, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands.
Certain countries were singled out for an improvement in their fight against graft, notably Chile, Ecuador, Macedonia, Kuwait and Qatar.
Criticised for going the other way were the United States, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Madagascar and Niger.
The United States was 22nd on the list, while Greece and Italy came in at 78th and 67th respectively. China was level with Greece.
TI said corruption was hampering efforts to combat "the world's most pressing problems" such as the financial crisis and climate change.
The watchdog also noted that of the 36 countries that have signed the OECD's anti-bribery convention forbidding greasing the palms of foreign officials, "as many as 20 show little or no enforcement of the rules."
This sends "the wrong signal about their commitment to curb corrupt practices," TI said.
© 2010 AFP