17 November 2009 | Jake Kanter
The UK is struggling to improve its reputation on corruption after failing to crack down on firms involved in overseas bribery, according to Transparency International.
The fraud watchdog's 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which rates 180 countries on perceived levels of fraud, showed the UK has not rectified its all-time low rating last year.
The country registered 7.7 in today's index, where a score of 0 is most corrupt and 10 is least corrupt. This was the same result as last year and saw the UK slip from 16 to 17 in the ranking of 180 nations.
TI said the rating reflected a perceived lack of action by the government on overseas bribery and the MPs' expenses scandal. "The UK should be aspiring to a CPI score which puts it in the top 10, not struggling to make the top 20. It should demonstrate that its own house is in order before exhorting developing countries to improve their governance," said Chandrashekhar Krishnan, executive director of TI UK.
Engineering firm Mabey & Johnson became the first UK company to be prosecuted for fraud abroad this year, in what was described as a "landmark outcome". Corruption experts predict there will be more prosecutions in the future if the Bribery Bill is passed (News, 23 July).
In the TI index Somalia, Afghanistan and Myanmar were seen as the most corrupt nations, while New Zealand, Denmark and Singapore were perceived to be the least corrupt.
TI chair Huguette Labelle said: "At a time when massive stimulus packages, fast-track disbursements of public funds and attempts to secure peace are being implemented around the world, it is essential to identify where corruption blocks good governance and accountability, in order to break its corrosive cycle."