24 September 2008 | Paul Snell
Wealthy countries have double standards when dealing with corruption and bribery, according to NGO Transparency International (TI).
The latest Corruption Perceptions Index, released by TI yesterday, revealed big annual rises in the level of perceived corruption in wealthy, developed countries, including the UK.
According to the NGO it shows increasing criticism of government commitments to reign in "questionable methods" used by firms to win and manage business overseas.
"This sort of double standard is unacceptable and disregards international legal standards," said Huguette Labelle, chair of TI. "Beyond its corrosive effects on the rule of law and public confidence, this lack of resolution undermines the credibility of the wealthiest nations in calling for greater action to fight corruption by low-income countries."
While poorer countries struggle with weak oversight and corrupt judiciaries, Labelle said in developed countries there was insufficient regulation of overseas bribery in the private sector.
In the latest index, which rates 180 countries on perceived levels of corruption, Somalia, Iraq and Burma were seen as the most corrupt nations. Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden were perceived to be the least corrupt.
"In poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play," said Labelle. "The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world's societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated."