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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
How corrupt is your country?

Bangladesh is the most corrupt nation in the world, according to an organisation fighting global corruption, while Finland is seen as the least corrupt.

The annual survey of 91 countries by Berlin-based Transparency International revealed that perceived corruption among public officials and politicians has reached crisis proportions.

Poor nations in Africa and Asia are seen as the world's most corrupt, followed closely by many former Soviet states in Eastern Europe.

Peter Eigen, the company's chairman, believes that, "There is a worldwide corruption crisis.".

How bad is corruption in your country? Have you ever experienced corruption of any kind? Is it an inevitable consequence of public life?

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air's programme on corruption with Transparency International.

This debate is now closed. Your comments:

Corruption takes on many forms

Manuel, USA/Mexico
As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Mexico, I have had the opportunity to compare between a supposed most corrupt country (Mexico) and a supposed "clean" country the U.S. Corruption takes on many forms. In Mexico it is done through favours, and bribes, in the U.S. through lobbying, and favours. There is no real difference beside the fact that one is legal and recorded, and the other is done "under the table". In the end the outcome is the same, the individuals, or groups with the money can affect the outcome of legislation and enforcement to suit their needs. Just look at Bush, he's the biggest sell out, it seems he's bent on pleasing every single one of his campaign "contributors" is it any different than a Mexican politician accepting a bribe?
Manuel, USA/Mexico

Having left Russia for the UK, I am astounded at the difference in norms and practices between the two countries. True, there are scams and scandals happening in the upper echelons of the UK government, but this is child's play compared to the overwhelming culture of bribing and stealing in Russia. The mutual mistrust between the people and the once all-powerful "State" is ingrained in every Russian's consciousness. People steal from their offices and factories, and the Government steal their subjects' salaries and pensions, while the "Servants of the State", the bureaucrats, won't move a finger without a dollar note stapled to your application.
Abraham Levy, Russia

In Portugal, you do not see corruption in your daily life, like you do in most Third World countries, but we are still a society where "money and gifts" rule when you want to make your life a little bit easier. Twenty years ago you could influence a customs guard by paying him a bribe, but those days are long gone. Now things happen in higher ranks, and you will have to pay a dinner to the customs chief officer. Those below can get easily arrested if things don't work, but those on top are still a bit untouchable. But things are getting better, though. Another generation and these things will be a part of our past.
Bruno Silva, Portugal

The corruption ranking makes a sad reading. Peter Eigen is very right when he says that there is a corruption crisis all over the world. The more man becomes materialistic, the more corrupt he becomes and the world society is moving exactly in the materialistic direction. Spiritualism applied to today's world, not dilution, is the solution to it, I believe. Let us at least bring up the future generation in that direction. In this context, I resolve to steadfastly do so in the case of my three year-old daughter. Let's work towards improvement; let's hope for improvement.
Giri, India

Here in the British Isles we tend to suffer from sporadic corruption - the odd scandal involving brown envelopes of money; dubious favour swapping amongst certain individuals of power; political string pulling for friends and allies; and the occasional bent copper. These dishonesties are perpetrated by people whose opportunistic streak outweighs their sense of moral duty. Thankfully the consequences of these actions are usually minor - certainly we should be grateful that we need not endure the pandemic bribery that is necessarily a way of life in less developed countries.
Philip Moore, United Kingdom

Ditto Mr. Osborne's comments. I am disgusted by "my generation" and our abject failure at correcting those very faults we protested so vehemently against.

Corruption is corruption

Fermin-Fermon Torres, New Mexico, USA
It's easy to finger-point the corruption of other nations without looking at one's own government. Not surprisingly, many people are pointing to their own governments and justly so. Anywhere there is big money (and the US of A is big money) corruption at the highest level of government will exist. The problem here is intensified because we have a judicial, police and jury system that protect these high levels of corruption. Here if one does not have cash on hand, he/ she will go to jail! Corruption is corruption, but judicial corruption is, in my opinion, the worse type because it robs the innocent of their civil rights!
Fermin-Fermon Torres, New Mexico, USA

I agree with everything Sinead had to say. Ireland must rate right up at the top for corruption, as the various tribunals are at the moment demonstrating. However to me the greatest scandal is that not one person will be jailed or even seen to be punished.
Lee, Dublin, Ireland

I was glad to see New Zealand third on the list not far behind Finland. We have dropped badly off the pace economically and now lie somewhere behind Ireland in that respect. But living in a wonderfully fair and open society where graft and corruption are almost unknown makes up for great deal.
Dave Smith, New Zealand

Local governments are as corrupt as the most despotic Third World countries

Jessica Weinstein, US
while the United States is often viewed as having a transparent economy, the state and local (cities, suburban communities) governments are as corrupt as the most despotic Third World countries. Entire bureaucracies exist without any visible purpose other than to create sources of additional revenue for government officials, their cronies, and appointees.
Jessica Weinstein, US

The corruption in my country (Pakistan) can be assessed by this simple fact, that the most corrupt government department in Pakistan is the Anti Corruption Department.
Agha Ata, USA

I wonder why Transparency International ignored my beloved country India and caught our poor neighbour Bangladesh. We Indians have many scams to be proud of. As I type this comment, a former Chief Minister of a federal south Indian state has been arrested and remanded for an alleged corruption case by none other than a corrupted Chief Minister who is facing many graft charges and who was also imprisoned last year for corruption worth millions of rupees. Tell me which country deserve first place? Is it Bangladesh!
P.K.Niaz, Tellicherry, INDIA

All governments are corrupt, however, in the UK we benefit from the fact that they are better at hiding it!
Luke Kingdon, UK

Democracy may have its corruptions, in the forms of lobbying, favours, etc. But at least in a democracy, such events are documented and recorded, so the evidence is there if anyone cares to look for it. Witness the Mandelson saga. Regardless of whether you think he was right or wrong, at least the evidence was there for all to see. As Churchill once said ' Democracy is a poor form of government, until you examine the alternatives'!
Nick Hogarth, UK

The society itself is corrupted

Sandeep, India
India is there in the list at the bottom as everyone expected. Everyone blames the politicians for this evil the root remains that the society itself is corrupted. More than half of the people, what ever their position in the society, will resort to this evil if they get some chances to do it. This situation will change only when India becomes a sound economy. Till that time it will remain.
Sandeep, India

Our Government is very corrupt: "Shawinigate", vote fixing in Edmonton, MPs knowing who voted for who, it sums it up, and us taxpayers must pay the Liberal Party's legal fees!
Peter Little, Canada

In my country about 50% of my family's income has to be paid to the local mafia. My neighbour did not want to pay because he needed the money for medical treatment for his sick son. They cut off his finger and later they killed him saying he was Serbian spy. Me and my two brothers worked hard in Germany for more than 10 years. Now we have to give everything to the UCK and "goverment".
Basim, Kosova

Russia is somewhere among African countries in that rating list. Russians prefer to settle things informally, among each other which is as much a source of corruption as the state servants' greed (or, more often, the need to survive - state wages are very low). That's why I believe that Russia needs massive de-bureaucratisation. People must be able to handle as much as possible themselves, because that's what happens anyway
Andrej, Russia

On arrival at an Indonesian airport, I was informed by the customs official that you were required to have $1500 cash/traveller's cheques to enter the country (which I knew not to be true). Having threatened me with being sent back, he then suggested that I just put $50 inside the envelope, and that would cover it! The corruption culture persisted for the rest of the trip: to get any visa or permit, you meet with incredible slowness and obstruction, and miraculously a few dollars later, there are not longer any problems!
Alex, Oxford, UK

Corruption is an integral part of our life like air and food

Irina, Ukraine
I love my country, however, it is very corrupt. We became accustomed to paying extra money for everything we need to be done. Corruption is an integral part of our life like air and food.
Irina, Ukraine

Having worked in almost a half dozen developing countries, I have come to grips with the seemingly never ending "fees" demanded by officials in all sectors and all levels (airport officials, immigration, police, etc). I now consider these as just the cost of doing business. Remember, the policeman or woman who shyly hints at a few extra Naira, Cedis, Birr, or whatever, probably hasn't been paid in months. I have seen the police barracks (family quarters) in most of these countries and they are deplorable.

I now consider the definition of corruption to be the winning of contracts for goods or services outside of the "normal" modes based on merit or lowest bid price, that is, through payment of bribes or favours. Granted, this is endemic in many developing countries too, but when this criterion is applied to the definition of corruption, how many countries in the "developed" world would keep their cherished position at the top of the heap?
James R., Canada

In our country the representatives of the last dictatorship are FREE!!!
Grace, Argentina

Kenya is ranked 5th most corrupt country in the world

Kinoti Meme, Kenya
Kenya is ranked 5th most corrupt country in the world. I believe it should be the worst corrupt in the world. With all the 'land-grabbing' by the rich and powerful; the politically instigated tribal clashes; and all those political appointments based on who you know even if you have no qualifications. What is worse than a police system and a judiciary that takes money to harass the poor or to return favours to the rich?
Kinoti Meme, Kenya

The word corruption is never used openly. "Put For Me" is demanded by force from the international airport to the last village in Sierra Leone. We see it as our right to augment our salaries. Without it, nothing will succeed. Talk about the dead still collecting salaries; talk about inflated vouchers; talk about the judiciary - my head aches.
Henry Williams, New York/Sierra Leone

I live in America. Enough said!
Martin, USA

Corruption is caused by huge a disparity of (legal) income between government officials and those in the private sector. This is what causes India to be near the bottom of the list.
Dev, India

Cameroon has got to be the most corrupt place in the world. Airport officials even tried to tax me on a packet of French butter biscuits when leaving the country. Because I refused to pay the tax they confiscated the goods.
Neil Hunter, England

The US is the home of the perfection of corruption

Benjamin Osborne, USA
The US is the home of the perfection of corruption. Our politicians have managed to take all forms of corruption and institutionalise them into our political system in that lobbyists, political action committees and corporations are able to legally buy and sell government. Although it is not the same as Mafia corruption or other under the table manners, is it not more insidious when the corruption in question is a stable and legal part of government? In this way, nothing is done in US politics without the formalised channels of corruption. And this corruption will not be stamped out, because it is those who would stamp it out!
Benjamin Osborne, United States of America

It depends how you define corruption. Even the supposedly clean governments of the West aren't necessarily all they appear.
John B, UK

My own country of Ireland has to be the Oscar-winner for corruption. Not a week goes by without some huge scandal or another. Another strange thing is, the amount of our politicians with severe memory loss. In fact, when it transpired that so many of them had dodgy off-shore Ansbacher Bank accounts, that, they'd simply "forgotten" about, we began to refer to them as Alzheimers Bank Accounts!
Sinead, Ireland

Thanks to an often-maligned bureaucracy which seems to keep an eye on everything, not half as corrupt as it presumably could be. But I don't fear corruption in my country so much as that other cancer - a spirit of indifference fostered by a casual norm of mediocrity.
Robert del Valle, USA

Finland has set an illustrious example before the rest of the world how to create a corruption-free society

Mahesh Somani, Finland
While staying at Finland for more than two years, I understood the true meaning of honesty and patriotic feelings. I believe Finland has set an illustrious example before the rest of the world how to create a corruption-free society. Definitely, vast natural resources, a very small population and improved economic indicators have been quite significant in translating this beautiful nation into a paradise on the Arctic. Sometimes, I feel that an ordinary Finn is far more superior than some of the richest but most corrupt citizens of my native country India. Mahatma Gandhi must have dreamed of such a society whose foundation is based on honesty, peace and non-violence.
Mahesh Somani, Finland

It seems to me that corruption doesn't necessarily involve money, in it's more subtle, more English form, the currency of corruption can be "favours".
Malcolm McMahon, York, UK

Corruption is endemic in democracy, the levels of both vary in various locations but these have coexisted "since time immoral". The aim is to have as much of the one as one can get without having too much of the other. Which is the one and which is the other is unfortunately not universally agreed.
James Bruce Reid, Scotland

I would have to say that Nigeria is the most corrupt country on the planet

Tommy Heltman, USA
I would have to say that Nigeria is the most corrupt country on the planet. Almost from the minute you land in that country you are subject to a non-stop barrage of extortionate fees ranging from a newly created visa fee - which oddly enough is implemented the very hour you arrive ($35) to an right to stay in a hotel tax ($11).
Tommy Heltman, USA

Romania has to be one of the top ten most corrupt countries. My family was able to immigrate to Germany only after the German government paid for us (they did this with all ethnic Germans in Romania). This is nothing short of extortion.
Mathias Liebner, Romania (ethnic German)

My country is so corrupt that I can not buy one single item without dealing with the Mafia.
Fadime, Kosovo

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31 May 01 | Europe
Forum fights global corruption
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