Practice English everyday with VOA Special English

Friday, January 4, 2013 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Corruption Index 2012

Corruption, like bribery, abuse of power and secret dealings are still "very high" in many countries. This week (December 5, 2012) Transparency International released its yearly Corruption Perceptions Index.

The Berlin-based group rates 176 countries and territories with a number from 100 to zero. Bigger numbers are better. The index measures the perceived, or apparent, level of corruption in a country.

The group uses information from the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. Corruption takes many forms. Transparency International calls it "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain." One common form is bribery: the use of money or gifts to persuade another person to do something wrong or illegal.

Corruption is not easy to measure because it is secretive. But the World Bank has estimated that about $1 trillion in bribes are paid every year worldwide. Stealing public money is another form of corruption.

Huguette Labelle is chair of Transparency International. She says the problem of corruption affects millions of people and limits their ability to get essential services like water, education, health, and licenses.

A group of small, developed nations scored highest on the new list. Denmark, Finland and New Zealand received a rating of 90. Among large nations, the United States rated 73 while China rated 39. The countries with the greatest perceived level of corruption on the list are Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan with scores of 8.

Robin Hodess directs research at Transparency International. She says transparency international needs evidence about how corruption works, and needs to know where to target the reforms needed to promote accountability and integrity." The perceptions held by experts, businesses and organizations are important. The World Bank notes that countries showing improvements had greater foreign investment and economic growth.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.