There's Nothing Rotten in Denmark: Nordic Nations Rate Low in Corruption

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The governments of Denmark, Finland and Sweden are almost squeaky clean in the eyes of business people and others, while corruption plagues the public sectors in Honduras, Paraguay and Cameroon, a report released yesterday says.

The 1998 "Corruption Perceptions Index," compiled by the Berlin-based anti-corruption group Transparency International, gave Denmark a 10 on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being "highly corrupt" and 10 "highly clean." Finland and Sweden received scores of 9.6 and 9.5.

Cameroon received a 1.4, the worst ranking of the 85 nations studied. Honduras and Paraguay received scores of 1.7 and 1.5.

The report based its rankings on 12 surveys by other groups, including the World Bank and Gallup International. The surveys measured the perceptions of business people, risk analysts, journalists and the public, since not enough data is available to measure corruption itself, Transparency International said.

The report focuses on public-sector corruption, including bribes to officials and embezzlement of public funds. Fifty countries received scores of less than 5, even though more than half the world's nations weren't included in the study due to insufficient data.

"The poor scores received by many countries in the new index illustrates just how serious the global cancer of corruption really is," Transparency International Chairman Peter Eigen said. "This has to change."

Transparency International spokesman Frank Vogl said the pervasiveness of corruption underscores the need for nations to ratify a treaty banning bribery in international business deals. The agreement was signed in December by 34 nations meeting in Paris under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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