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Singapore Remains One Of The World's Least Corrupt Regimes - Report

Tom Burroughes

6 December 2012

Singapore retained its fifth ranking in an index showing the city-state to be one of the least corrupt jurisdictions in the world, while Hong Kong ranked 14th, according to an annual measure by Transparency International.

Denmark is the cleanest country out of a total of 176 regimes ranked by the organisation in its Corruption Perceptions Index 2012. Afghanistan, Somalia and North Korea are seen as among the worst such places.

As explained in this publication recently, a number of developed countries, such as the UK, have enacted legislation in recent years to stamp out bribery and corruption, and the impact of such rules often extends far outside a country’s borders. (To see an interview with Withers about this issue, click here.)

While there can no room for complacency, the relatively high status of Hong Kong and Singapore in terms of transparency will be welcomed by the governments of these jurisdictions, as they are both important booking centres for wealth management.

Overall, the figures are not particularly encouraging in terms of overall progress, Transparency International said. Two thirds of the countries measured score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).

“Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making. Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people,” said Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International.

“After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 results demonstrate that societies continue to pay the high cost of corruption,” Labelle said.

Many of the countries where citizens challenged their leaders to stop corruption –from the Middle East to Asia to Europe – have seen their positions in the index stagnate or worsen, the figures show.

Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 90.

“Underperformers in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 also include the eurozone countries most affected by the financial and economic crisis. Transparency International said it has “consistently warned Europe to address corruption risks in the public sector to tackle the financial crisis, calling for strengthened efforts to corruption-proof public institutions”.

Among other details, Switzerland ranks sixth, a fact that will be seized upon by the country’s banking industry that has come under pressure in recent years for its bank secrecy laws; Australia ranks seventh, followed by Canada (9th); Netherlands (10th). The UK is in 17th position.