18 Nov 2009

NZ least corrupt country, report finds

2:02 pm on 18 November 2009

New Zealand has maintained its ranking as the least corrupt country in a report from an international anti-corruption group.

Transparency International has based its findings on surveys of how corrupt the public sector is perceived to be in 180 countries.

Denmark was second and Singapore third.

Fragile states which are scarred by conflict are the lowest ranked countries, the report says. Afghanistan is seen as doing only slightly better than Somalia.

The group says corruption remains a widespread problem, with no region of the world immune.

Australia is ranked as the 8th least corrupt country. Britain ranked 17th, down one place from last year, and the US also fell one place to 19th.

Transparency International's New Zealand chairman, Gerald McGhie, says a very high level of trust exists in this country.

He says many people who travel in Australia are amazed at that country's heavy level of bureaucracy, which demonstrates a lower level of trust than in New Zealand.

Mr McGhie says the survey of surveys measures citizens' perception of corruption and is not based on hard data.