Transparency International’s “Corruption Perceptions Index” for 2014 ranks Switzerland fifth along with Norway based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be, up from seventh a year ago.
The list of 175 countries is topped by Denmark, followed by New Zealand, Finland and Sweden.
The index, based on expert opinion from around the world, lists the United States in 17th place, tied with Barbados, Hong Kong and Ireland, and just ahead of Chile.
Somalia and North Korea share honours as the countries perceived to be the most corrupt in the world.
The NGO said a poor score is likely a sign of widespread bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to people’s needs.
Switzerland came first in a “bribe payers index”, which ranks the world’s wealthiest and most economically influential countries according to the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad.
And it also scored high for its anti-bribery enforcement activities and control of corruption, despite the issues its banks face over aiding tax evasion and other financial crimes.
However, Bern is being credited with taking action to counter these issues.
Indeed, when it comes to financial transparency, Switzerland, is also ranked as the best country, according to Transparency International.
Elsewhere, the Berlin-based NGO pointed to a rise in reports of corruption in Turkey, which suffered the year's biggest fall in rank, and low rankings for the major emerging economies known collectively as the BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India and China.
The group's table is the most widely used gauge of corruption by governments, police, court systems, political parties and bureaucracies, a scourge it says undermines development and deepens poverty.
But this year TI highlighted the role multinational banks and the world's financial centres play in allowing the dodgy elites of some developing countries to stash away or launder their ill-gotten millions.
"Almost every banking scandal that involves money-laundering has gone beyond just small island-state tax havens to really point to illicit funds, corrupt funds, landing in the likes of London, New York, Frankfurt," TI advocacy and research director Robin Hodess told AFP.
She highlighted large fines paid by the bank HSBC to settle claims that it had allowed itself to be used by money launderers in Mexico, and by BNP Paribas for having transferred funds on behalf of Sudan and other countries blacklisted by the US.
“Countries at the bottom need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favour of their people,” José Ugaz, chair of the Transparency International, said in a statement.
“Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don’t export corrupt practices to underdeveloped countries.”
The NGO said leading financial centres in the EU and US “need to join with fast-growing economies to stop the corrupt from getting away with it”.
For more information on the report, check here and click on the map below to check the rankings of different countries.