A new report ranking 183 countries by how corrupt their governments are seen to be gave top marks to the likes of New Zealand, Denmark and Finland – while the worst-performing nations included North Korea, Somalia and Afghanistan.
The annual corruption index by watchdog group Transparency International found Greece and Italy – both now playing a prime role in the European debt crisis – have some of the worst public officials in the region. The Financial Times reports that “Greece is seen as more corrupt than Gambia while Italy is the lowest-scoring member of the Group of Seven developed nations,” largely due their dismal records at curbing bribery and tax cheats.
A number of Arab Spring countries saw their rankings slip from last year: Egypt was 112th (down from 98th), Libya clocked in at 168th (down from 146th), and both Syria and Yemen also fell in the rankings. Transparency International officials attributed the changes to greater public demand and anti-corruption activism within the countries.
The United States ranked 24th, sandwiched between Qatar and France.
For a full list of country rankings, take a look at Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2011.
Call it a case of vigilante justice. Or perhaps just two Indian citizens fed up with a corrupt system and looking to, um, take a bite out of crime.
Two farmers from the village of Narharpur in northern India released around 40 snakes this week at a tax office in Basti after being repeatedly hit up for bribes.
The Guardian reports the two men allegedly “dumped three sacks filled with snakes on the floor” – including at least four poisonous cobras. The resulting pandemonium resulted in hundreds scrambling for the door. Ultimately no one was bitten.
The farmers apparently only wanted to get tax records for their land – but were told by local officials they couldn’t see the documents until they paid bribes. The farmers kept trying for weeks. No dice. Without greasing some palms, the records would remain locked up in the office, they were told. So this week they returned, and one of the men – a part-time snake charmer – brought a few dozen of his friends.
Protests against corruption have been growing in India recently, as the problem continues to plague countless citizens who generally can’t get even basic services from their public officials without ponying up a bribe.
The growing scandal at Italy’s largest defense contractor led to the resignation Thursday of its chairman. Pier Francesco Guarguaglini resigned as chairman of Finmeccanica, the state-controlled company under increasing public scrutiny as it falters under the weight of corruption probes related to its executives.
The New York Times reports that at least four investigations are under way involving the company, “laying bare what prosecutors depict as a system of patronage, slush funds and bribery that has already felled some executives at the group and contributed to a big slide in the company’s shares.”
A big slide, indeed – the company has lost about two-thirds of its value this year. Finmeccanica employs about 75,000 people worldwide, including about 43,000 in Italy itself and 12,000 in the United States.