Political system leaves UK 'vulnerable to corruption'

6 December 2012

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6 December 2012 | Anna Reynolds

The UK is struggling to remain in the top 20 least-corrupt countries as a result of ‘political scandals’, according to a global survey by Transparency International UK.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 176 countries on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

The results found that two thirds of countries score below 50, and war-torn countries with unstable governments such as Somalia, Afghanistan and North Korea ranked the lowest.

New Zealand, Denmark and Finland share the top position as the least corrupt with a score of 90, while the UK dropped one place to be joint 17th with Japan.

Chandu Krishnan, executive director at Transparency International, said: “Despite the passing of the Bribery Act, and measures to improve transparency in government, the perception of experts is that the UK continues to be more vulnerable to corruption than the political establishment is willing to admit. The UK is struggling to remain in the top 20, let alone achieve a place in the top 10.

“The steady stream of political scandals has exposed a worrying complacency at the heart of UK politics. Until the government acts with urgency to put a cap on party funding and introduce tougher regulation of lobbying and the revolving door, the UK will not be able to rise higher in global anti-corruption league tables.”

The political scandals include UK politicians having close relationships with lobbyists and accepting corporate and media hospitality, public officials taking jobs within a company they were previously responsible for regulating, and political party funding.

The rankings of the five countries that make up BRICS, the association of emerging economies, should hold interest for business leaders and investors. Although three out of the five have moved up the placings, South Africa and Brazil are both ranked 69th  with a score of 43, China placed 80th  with a score of 39, India is joint 94th  with a number of other nations with a score of 36 and Russia is ranked 133rd (up 10 from last year) but with a low score of 28.  

The index is probably most damaging for China, which has slipped five places, despite China’s new leader, Xi Jinping warning of political unrest if corruption remains unchecked.

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