Corruption, graft and bribery are worldwide problems, though any savvy businessperson knows that these issues vary widely based on geography. As corporations plan multinational strategies, they must learn the potential corruption pitfalls of each country in which they plan to do business. But how can companies learn which nations are the most corrupt?

Since 1995, the answer has been Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. The 2013 edition was released on Dec. 3, and features a 100-point scale that was first used in 2012. This allows for year-to-year comparisons of countries, tracking their improvement – or lack thereof – in the area of corruption.

The top-rated countries in this year’s index were Denmark and New Zealand, with Finland and Sweden tied for third. The top of the list remained largely unchanged from last year, with the only slip coming from Finland, which was tied for first in the 2012 scale. The 2013 edition also featured the addition of one new country, South Sudan.

At the bottom of the list were Somalia, Afghanistan and North Korea, which all tied for last place. Somewhat disheartening is the news that more than two-thirds of the countries fell below 50 on the 100-point scale.

Some countries did improve from 2012 to this year, including Myanmar, Senegal, Estonia and Greece, though several countries dropped in the rankings, including Syria, Spain, Iceland, Eritrea and Libya.

The United States clocked in at 73, in 19th place, the same as last year.

“All countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International, in a statement.

The report is the result of a combination of surveys and corruption assessments in both the private and public sectors.


For more stories about corruption, check out the stories below:

Financial firms face FCPA fines for foreign fraternization

New York State Legislature sues to silence corruption probes

Demystifying the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (Part I)

Solving the puzzle of the FCPA in China