West Africa's Cameroon retained the dubious honor of being viewed as the country most likely to take bribes in 1999 while Denmark remained squeaky clean, according to an independent report.
Corruption watchdog Transparency International's 1999 report also showed that companies from China
, which is seeking to join the World Trade Organization, were viewed as the most likely to pay bribes in order to win business overseas.
The latest Corruption Perceptions Index showed that of the 99 countries tracked, only Denmark received
a perfect 10 rating for the second year running, showing that investors, risk analysts and the public think the country and its public officials are clean.
The survey ranks countries by scores ranging from 10 (highly clean) to zero (highly corrupt).
all other comers scoring a paltry 1.5, suggesting that most people expect to have to grease the palms of public officials to do business there.
More than two thirds of the 99 countries in the survey, drawn up on the basis of 17 surveys carried out over the last three years, scored less than 5.5 - the number Transparency International views as pointing to a problem for the government concerned.
"Very few countries on this list look good," said Frank Vogl of the Germany-based institution, which has issued its surveys annually for the last five years. "Approximately one third of the countries on the list have a score of 3 or less - that really is a critical situation.
Vogl pointed out that while Cameroon was perceived as the bottom of the barrel, other countries may actually be worse. More than 90 other countries in the world were not included in the survey due to insufficient data, he said.
Vogl noted that some of the worst countries in the index have taken measures against corruption but that reforms had begun too recently to be reflected in the latest survey.
Among those that fared poorly in the report were many that have received hefty loans from the international community in recent years. Nigeria came 98th in the poll, scoring 1.6; Indonesia was in joint 96th place with 1.7; Pakistan was joint 87th with 2.2, while Russia shared 82nd place with 2.4.
Other former Soviet republics also fared poorly, with nine of them clustered at the wrong end of the survey. Azerbaijan was the worst of the bunch, in joint 96th place with 1.7, while Uzbekistan was in joint 94th position with a score of 1.8. Kyrgyzstan scored 2.2; Kazakhstan and Georgia were on 2.3; Armenia was on 2.5; Ukraine and Moldova on 2.6 while Belarus landed a score of 3.4.
At the other end of the corruption index, corruption-free haven Denmark was followed by Finland with a score of 9.8, while New Zealand and Sweden scored a solid 9.4.
The United States was in 18th position with 7.5. Britain was 13th with 8.6.
The group also published its first ever Bribe Payers Index. The index ranked 19 leading exporting countries to reflect the perception that their corporations pay bribes abroad.
Like the corruption index, the bribery index ranks countries from 0-10 where 10 is a corrupt-free exporting country. China was the most likely to pay bribes, ranking 19th with a score of 3.1 followed by South Korea on 3.4; Taiwan on 3.5; and Italy on 3.7.
The United States, a rare example of a country with clear laws criminalizing bribery abroad, was ranked jointly with Germany in 9th with a score of 6.2. Sweden was seen as least likely to pay bribes with a score of 8.3 followed by Australia and Canada with a score of 8.1. - (Mark Egan, Reuters)