The world's least corrupt countries

Switzerland: One of the world’s least corrupt countries

The list of the World’s Most Corrupt Countries is arranged in descending order of countries’ transparency scores or their corruption perception indices (CPI). What this means is that the least “transparent” countries hover at the top. Meanwhile, on the flip side of this list are the countries in the bottom with the least amount of corruption and higher transparency scores, making them the World’s Least Corrupt Countries.

The common theme of the top five least corrupt countries is that most of them are Scandinavian. If the top five list is extrapolated, it turns out that in the top ten count of least corrupted countries, there are other European nations such as Netherlands and Luxembourg while others include Canada and Singapore.

Luxembourg is of interest to me because this tiny nation is about to receive an economic jolt with an influx of commerce. As the latter stages of Brexit start taking form by the end of this year, large corporations are looking to shift their European hub from London to Luxembourg City. Not only does this country’s relatively small size and its sound political and judicial system make this a haven for investors, but also its seeming neutrality to world affairs. Luxembourg is the perfect canvas for businesses looking for a Brexit-drama-free zone.

From the size of Luxembourg, this brings to point that most of these “least corrupt countries” seem to have relatively smaller population sizes which then leads me to believe that fewer people means fewer problems.

Or, rather, fewer people means more control by the government. Hailing from the chaotic epicenter of the world, Dhaka, I got to experience first-hand how a large population can cause havoc in the everyday. From causing traffic jams to causing electricity and water shortages, the bigger the population, the fewer resources to go around. Thus, the governments that are bound to flourish are the ones that have fewer people to tend to.

Other similarly least corrupt countries from the EU include Germany and the UK (not for long, I presume) as well as Norway. Norway’s case is quite curious. For one, it lost out its 5th spot to Switzerland this year and there have been reports that a “corruption cloud has settled over” it. Norwegian telecom giant, Telenor’s tax-evasive measures as well as bribery scandals in the fishing industry have caused Norway to slump down the list.

It is even being labelled as the “most corrupt country in Scandinavia.” Another incredibly worrying tale that corresponded to Norway’s growing problems is its oil company, Statoil’s association with Angola’s already faltering oil industry.

Few other honorable mentions in the list include the USA ranked at 18th spot placing the superpower ahead of Japan and France. It is rumored that the following year, the US might experience a slump in its ranking as President Trump’s cabinet comes under scrutiny (which was not taken into consideration for the current list). Nor were the Presidential elections, so the US might come under fire next year.

Looking at the least corrupt countries, you would be wise to consider these nations as possible investment centers. Not only are corruption-free zones conducive to business but they are also better for tourists. Countering corruption is always an added headache and if these countries provide that hassle-free experience then get on board! Here are the top 5 least corrupt countries in the world:

5. Switzerland

Long regarded as a paradigm of righteous activity, Switzerland has a squeaky-clean reputation that is as old as time. Any form of bribing is strictly illegal in the country and the country’s Criminal Code went so far as to criminalize the act. There are certain glitches in the Swiss ecosystem with the biggest flaw being that it is the headquarters of FIFA and most Swiss are said to be distrustful of the country’s ruling elite class.

This ruling class seem to propagate a system that is engineered for their success and not suitable for all. More and more Swiss are also distrusting of their bosses and the heavily veiled dealings of their exclusive bank accounts might be a worry, but these are quibbles in an otherwise sound country.

4. Sweden

A parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, this Scandinavian country lost out on its third place to Finland this year. Many experts believe that Swedish faltering business giants, Telia and Ericsson have led to the country’s demise.

Make no mistake, this is still a country that boasts some of the highest standards of living in the world as well as top-of-the-line state-funded education and healthcare, thus barring some mishaps in its private sector, this country does not condone corruption in an elementary level. In fact, to fight corruption, the country has its own anti-corruption unit and it can even be said that transparency ranks high on the Swedish ideology.

3. Finland

In second place behind Denmark and New Zealand, Finland lost a point in its CPI score since 2016 but still managed to keep down its corruption. Many corruption cases came to light in 2016, such as the bribery scandal related to an ex-narcotic cop. Although the German watchdog that compiles the list, Transparency International, does declare that no country can achieve a perfect transparency score of 100 and that every country has some forms of corruption, Finland has more systemic corruption than a deep-rooted problem such as political or grand corruption.

There might be some spattering of petty corruption (as was the case with the ex-cop), but mostly the country is as close to being perfectly corruption-free as can be.

2. Denmark

Sharing the top spot with a CPI of 90 is Norway’s southern neighbor and the four-year reigning champion of the least corrupt country title, Denmark. Although the country remains at the top of the list of 176 countries, its overall CPI has skidded downwards from its vantage score of 92 some years prior. Some of its ministers recently came under fire when they refused to declare their external sources of income, thus Denmark is experiencing a slump that it needs to rectify unless it wants to lose out on its top-spot next year.

The Danes have a fierce zero-tolerance policy against corruption and some of their leaders have even gone on to bemoan the slump in Denmark’s CPI score which is a good sign. It means that the Danes are willing to take the initiative to fight to keep the country corruption-free.

1. New Zealand

New Zealand had topped the list of the World’s Least Corrupt countries for 8 out of the past ten years but last year, after the Panama Papers revealed the shady Saudi sheep deal and the Skycity casino. It appears New Zealand had grown complacent (much like Denmark currently) that because they had topped the list with a high CPI score for years.

The chinks in the private sector started to unravel and their lowest ranking was 4th place in 2015. Since then, the government intervened with many initiatives such as new laws against bribery and anti-money laundering. In addition, the country re-examined its extradition protocols while also ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Among the criteria used to determine these rankings are press freedom, public access to official information, fundamental rights and the absence of corruption. These countries have succeeded in most of these criteria and it is a grand feat to top a list out of 176 countries. Transparency International does however warn that the countries with the cleanest of records were not doing enough to fight corruption (as is the case with most countries other than New Zealand).

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Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Andrew has been internationalizing since 2008, and has learned what works and what doesn't work when it comes to reducing taxes, increasing personal freedom, and creating wealth. Click here to work with him personally.
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