Ranked: The Most Corrupt Countries in the World

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When discussing corrupt countries in the world, it is important to distinguish between corruption at a national level and corruption among public officials. Many factors contribute to corruption, such as bribery, extortion, and kickbacks. The CPI score ranges from to 100 with 100 being the least corrupt and 0 being the most corrupt. Ranking refers to the global rank with 100 being the least corrupt. Following are the most recent results extracted from Transparency International’s official website.

The Most Corrupt Countries in the World

 

Country CPI Score Ranking
South Sudan 11 180
Syria 13 178
Somalia 13 178
Venezuela 14 177
Yemen 16 174
North Korea 16 174
Afghanistan 16 174
Libya 17 172
Equatorial Guinea 17 172
Turkmenistan 19 169

Source: Transparency International

What is CPI Score?

If you want to change your country of residence, then the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is the most important factor you should consider. The CPI ranks countries from 0 to 100, scoring them individually for public sector corruption. A score of 0 means that the country is highly corrupt, and 100 means it is very clean.

1. South Sudan

People prepare collect water in refugee camp, Juba, South Sudan
Juba South Sudan February 28th 2012 Unidentified people prepare plastic containers to collect water in a refugee camp Juba South Sudan February 28 2012

South Sudan is currently the most corrupt country in the world. Corruption is a global challenge, and it is not surprising that South Sudan, a country born out of a violent civil war that ended in 2020, is suffering from this malaise. However, corruption in South Sudan has reached an endemic level, where bribery and nepotism are part of everyday life.

Corruption is so prevalent in South Sudan that the government established an Anti-Corruption Commission to help combat the problem. However, the department itself was set up as semi-autonomous with persecutors having very little to no powers, so no notable progress was made since its inception.  [1]

2. Syria

Woman goes near the area destroyed by the fighting
Homs Syria September 22 2013 A woman walks near a residential area in the city of Homs destroyed in the fighting between the rebels of the Syrian National Army

Syria is a country located in the Middle East. It has an area of 185,180 square kilometers and a population of approximately 17.5 million as of 2020. 

The country has been embroiled in internal conflict since March 2011, ranks dead second last with a score of 13. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has used violence and intimidation against dissidents and rebel groups with corruption being rampant in every sector.

3. Somalia

Mogadishu
Bombed buildings in Mogadishu Somalia

Somalia is East Africa’s most corrupt nation and one of the most corrupt in the world.

Corruption is a significant obstacle to business in Somalia, and companies face high risks of encountering bribery or facilitation payments. A lack of enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations adds to the challenges faced by companies seeking to conduct business in Somalia.

Corruption remains pervasive within both the public and private sectors in Somalia. Facilitation payments are frequent, and companies must know that government officials may request these payments for even basic government services. Unofficial charges or informal “taxes” levied by government officials are also common, which can add substantial costs to doing business in Somalia. [2]

Bribery is common among Somali officials. Some reports suggest that many civil servants receive no salary, relying instead on bribes to supplement their income [3]. Bribes are requested for services such as issuing licenses and permits, collecting taxes, inspections, customs clearance, and port services. 

While many companies do not report paying bribes, those that have reported paying both large and small bribes across all levels of government.

4. Venezuela

Police officers block a march as Venezuelan opposition activists march in Caracas to keep pressure over Nicolas Maduro government
Caracas Venezuela May 12 2017 Riot police block a march in an almost daily series of sometimes deadly protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro

Corruption in Venezuela is high by world standards. Under President Nicolás Maduro’s leadership, the Venezuelan government has been described as authoritarian, and many political scientists, human rights organizations, and media outlets have stated that the Venezuelan government is authoritarian or undemocratic. [4]

Corruption in Venezuela is a public problem that can be divided into three groups: corruption by public officers (bribery, embezzlement, abuse of power), corruption among citizens (fraud and other financial crimes), and corruption in the private sector (bribery of officials). Venezuelans reported paying bribes worth more than US$1 billion to obtain a public service, and the former national treasurer also admitted this. [5]

In addition, no one really knows how the Venezuelan oil industry is doing; although it’s one of the largest industries in the country, it’s almost entirely opaque. The government controls oil production, and there is no oversight. Government officials have used this lack of transparency to their advantage by funneling money into secret accounts.

In September 2017, President Maduro announced plans to introduce a new cryptocurrency (a digital currency backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves) called “El Petro.” It was launched in February 2018. The move is reportedly meant to help Venezuela bypass US-led sanctions. But critics have said the currency will be subject to the same mismanagement and corruption as other industries controlled by the Venezuelan government. [6]

5. Yemen

Young Yemeni man holds a rifle n Aden, Yemen
Aden Yemen September 14 2006 Unidentified young Yemeni man holds a rifle on September 14 2006 in Aden Yemen

Yemen’s been in the throes of a civil war since 2014, and it’s now at risk of becoming the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. The conditions have led to rampant corruption, exacerbating the country’s suffering.

For example, according to Amnesty International, conflict parties have co-opted aid agencies, forcing them to give their supplies and leave. These parties have also blocked and diverted aid from getting to those who need it. Corruption has also increased arms trafficking in Yemen, allowing militias to stock up on weapons as they fight for control of the country. [7]

6. North Korea

North Korean leaders and soldiers
April 13 2018 Mansudae Grand Monument Pyongyang North Korea<br >Soldiers visiting the huge statues of North Korean leaders<br >Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il have special posters and monuments in different parts of the city The most important of these monuments is the giant sculptures of North Koreas founding leader Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il All tourists who come to visit the country have to come here and show their respects

North Korea is the sixth most corrupt country in the world. Corruption is endemic within its society and government. The government of North Korea has been ranked as the most corrupt regime in the world by Transparency International since at least 2012.

Corruption is “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” In North Korea, corruption takes many forms. The regime uses corruption to control the population and maintain power. Bribes are common and expected, even though they are technically illegal. 

For example, bribes are often paid to obviate punishment by state police or to be released from prison or labor camps. Numerous reports indicate that state authorities engage in extortion, especially against traders and merchants who operate in unofficial markets. [8]

The government also engages in petty corruption when dealing with ordinary citizens, such as fines for frivolous offenses against individuals who do not have enough food or other resources to provide for their families.

7. Afghanistan

Gardez in Afghanistan in May 2020
Old armored vehicles military escorts guns and tanks in Gardez in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is ranked as having one of the most corrupt public sectors in the world.

The country’s president, Ashraf Ghani, vowed to fight corruption and introduced reforms to cut down on graft. The country’s Anti-Corruption Unit has also made strides in tackling corruption. However, the situation is fragile, and anti-corruption efforts have remained vulnerable to reversals since the Taliban announced their new government in Afghanistan. Therefore, corruption remains endemic, particularly in the public procurement system and at border posts. [9]

8. Libya

The celebration the 69th Anniversary of Libyan Independence, Tripoli, Libya
Tripoli Libya December 24 2020 A soldier holds a Libyan flag in Martyrs Square celebrating the 69th Anniversary of Libyan Independence

Corruption is endemic at all levels of Libya’s government and state institutions. The country’s long-running political and security crises have exacerbated existing problems and led to new forms of corruption, including the diversion of public funds, embezzlement, bribery, and kickbacks.

The lack of accountability for corruption among high-level officials has eroded citizens’ trust in the government, undermined public confidence in state institutions, and hindered public participation in political life.

Corruption remains a big problem to economic growth in Libya. According to Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Libya ranks 170 out of 180 countries on the index, with a score of 17 out of 100. The CPI score is still the same after 4 years in 2022.  

9. Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea

Corruption is an established fact in Equatorial Guinea, a small African country on the west coast of Central Africa. Despite weak institutions, the country is one of the world’s most corrupt — especially since oil was discovered in 1996, and the president’s family owns a large stake in a multinational oil company.

The result has been what some see as an environment of impunity — where stealing from the government and its citizens is both legal and encouraged by officials. This has affected everything; from public services to infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.

Most of the corruption here is at the top levels of government — politicians who are determined not to give up their power despite economic issues causing widespread poverty for most citizens.

10. Turkmenistan

Monument Arch of Independence at sunset
Monumen Arch of Independence in sunset Ashkhabad Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a country in Central Asia. It’s bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. The country is famous for its natural gas resources and the struggles of the population to survive economic collapse.

Turkmenistan has been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International. Many believe the country’s low ranking is due to political oppression and government cover-ups regarding corruption.

In 2011, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov stated that he would not tolerate corruption in any form under his rule. However, there is still widespread evidence of bribery and money laundering. 

Conclusion

One common thread that unites the most corrupt countries in the world is how difficult it is to obtain and maintain political power. Due to this, a lot of these countries are run by authoritarian regimes that put the leader first and their citizens second. Other times political leaders are forced to make statements that are unfounded, ignore facts and evidence, and use the media for their own good. The end result however is the same i.e. corruption and economic difficulties for the poorest who find it hard even to put food on their tables.

References

  1. SudanTribune. (2021, October 11). South Sudan anti-corruption commission to prosecute officials – Kiir. Sudan Tribune. https://sudantribune.com/article31845/
  2. Boogaard, V. V. (2020). Informal revenue generation and the state: Evidence from Sierra Leone[Doctoral dissertation]. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/103437/3/van_den_Boogaard_Vanessa_202011_PhD_thesis.pdf
  3. News from Elsewhere… (2013, September 11). Somalia: Civil servants get Norwegian cash. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-24046608
  4. The path toward authoritarianism in Venezuela. (n.d.). obo. https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756223/obo-9780199756223-0286.xml
  5. Ellsworth, B., & Cohen, L. (2018, November 20). Venezuela’s former treasurer took $1 billion in bribes: U.S. prosecutors. U.S. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-corruption-idUSKCN1NP1K1
  6. (2018, February 20). The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/20/venezuela-launches-the-petro-its-cryptocurrency/
  7. Yemen archives. (n.d.). Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/middle-east-and-north-africa/yemen/
  8. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2022, October 14). North Korean criminals pay bribes to duck punishment. Refworld. https://www.refworld.org/docid/584811b49.html
  9. CORRUPTION IN AFGHANISTAN: RECENT PATTERNS AND TRENDS. (2012). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. https://www.unodc.org/documents/lpo-brazil//Topics_corruption/Publicacoes/Corruption_in_Afghanistan_FINAL.pdf
  10. Omari, S. (2012, October 23). Equatorial Guinea indefinitely suspends radio program. Committee to Protect Journalists. https://cpj.org/2012/10/equatorial-guinea-indefinitely-suspends-radio-prog/

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