Oil wealth is often a breeding ground for corruption, according to the latest survey by anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International (TI).
Oil wealth often ends up in the wrong pockets, TI says
The report estimates that billions of dollars are lost to bribery in public purchasing, citing the oil sector in many nations as a particular problem.
Bangladesh, Haiti, Nigeria, Burma, Azerbaijan, Paraguay and Chad were seen to be the most corrupt, said TI.
Finland, New Zealand, Denmark and Iceland were deemed the least corrupt.
Make it public
"As the Corruption Perceptions Index 2004 shows, oil-rich Angola, Azerbaijan, Chad, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Nigeria, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen all have extremely low scores," said Peter Eigen, the chairman of Transparency International.
Source: Transparency International
"In these countries, public contracting in the oil sector
is plagued by revenues vanishing into the pockets of
Western oil executives, middlemen and local officials," he added.
Mr Eigen said oil companies could help end corruption by making public details of the payments made to governments and state-controlled oil firms.
"Access to this vital information will minimise opportunities for hiding the payment of kickbacks to secure oil tenders, a practice that has blighted the oil industry in transition and post-war economies," Mr Eigen said.
Threat to development
He said if international objectives for tackling poverty are to be achieved, governments need to tackle corruption in public contracting.
Reconstruction will be wrecked by a wasteful diversion of resources to corrupt elites unless there are strict anti-bribery measures, he added.
COUNTRIES BECOMING LESS CORRUPT
Compared with 2003's report, corruption was perceived
to have worsened in Bahrain, Belize, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Austria, Botswana, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Gambia, Germany, Jordan, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, however, improved their scores, Transparency International said.
The organisation's annual index is compiled from a series of polls on perceptions of corruption.
This year's index of 146 countries is based on 18 surveys conducted since 2002 by more than ten independent groups.
TI added that some countries which could be among the most corrupt are not included in the report because there is not enough survey evidence to make an assessment.