Switzerland slips in global corruption ranking
Switzerland ranks seventh in a global ranking of perceived public sector corruption, behind Scandinavian countries, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
Denmark leads the world for limiting corruption, according to the ranking released on Wednesday by anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International.
Finland is second, ahead of Sweden (third), New Zealand (fourth) and the Netherlands and Norway (tied for fifth).
The Berlin-based group's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is the most widely used gauge of corruption by governments, police, court systems, political parties and bureaucracies, measuring the perception of corruption in 175 countries.
The perceived level of public sector corruption is ranked on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
Switzerland’s score of 86 is unchanged from last year, when it ranked fifth, but was bettered by Norway (87, up from 86) and the Netherlands (87, up from 83).
Switzerland's reputation took a battering last year from a corruption scandal at Zurich-based Fifa, the world body for football.
The organization's president, Sepp Blatter, was suspended after the Swiss attorney-general's office announced criminal proceedings against the Swiss citizen regarding "criminal mismanagement" and "misappropriation".
US authorities, meanwhile, indicted numerous Fifa officials and sports marketing companies for bribery and money laundering.
“While a handful of countries in Europe and Central Asia have improved, the general picture across this vast region is one of stagnation,” Anne Koch, Transparency International’s director for Europe and Central Asia said in a statement.
“Also very worrying is the marked deterioration in countries like Hungary, FYR of Macedonia, Spain and Turkey where we’re seeing corruption grow, while civil society space and democracy shrink,” she said.
“Corruption won’t be tackled until laws and regulations are put into action and civil society and the media are genuinely free.”
The report's authors warned of European countries that score well at home while their dealings elsewhere are less savoury.
"Just because a country has a clean public sector at home, doesn’t mean it isn’t linked to corruption elsewhere," the report said.
"Take Sweden for instance. It comes third in the index, yet the Swedish-Finnish firm TeliaSonera – 37 per cent owned by the Swedish state – is facing allegations that it paid millions of dollars in bribes to secure business in Uzbekistan, which comes in at 153rd in the index".
The company has recently said it is pulling out of business in Central Asia.
Transparency International said however that Sweden isn't the only "clean" nation to be linked to "dodgy behaviour overseas".
Half of all OECD countries are violating their international obligations to crack down on bribery by their companies abroad, according to the campaign group.
Three of the bottom ten countries on the list are from the Middle East and North Africa region – Iraq, Libya and Sudan.
"The ongoing devastating conflicts in these and other countries inevitably mean that any efforts to strengthen institutions and the state have taken a back seat," said Ghada Zughayar, Transparency International's director for the region.