Aotearoa has been ranked the least corrupt country in the world for the third year in a row, sharing the title with Finland and Denmark. 

The results, released last Tuesday, come from Transparency International, a corruption watchdog that collects data from 13 different sources to build the Corruption Perceptions Index, a corruption ranking of 180 countries.

These sources include international organisations such as the World Economic Forum and World Justice Project — who survey the general public of these countries, as well as experts such as academics, lawyers, and economists.

Multiple surveys are done by these organisations and experts to assess how common corruption is among Government employees and elected officials. 

This includes bribery, embezzlement, nepotism and conflicts of interest. 

The surveys also look at whether there are consequences and what those consequences are. 

Questions in these surveys include: “To what extent are public officeholders who abuse their positions prosecuted or penalised?”

And: “To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?”

Transparency International then collates these survey results to figure out where countries rank. 

Julie Haggie, chief executive of Transparency International New Zealand, says New Zealand scored well overall but lost some points in the World Economic Forum survey — particularly in the section analysing how much money the Government pays to businesses, individuals and groups. 

“It is possible that this small drop reflects general concern across New Zealand about the eye watering amount of funding being distributed at pace and under extraordinary conditions as part of the $54 billion dollar Covid-19 Response and Recovery Package,” Haggie says.   

“There is reasonably good transparency on the intent of the spending, but public confidence and trust will sit on how that plays out in terms of actual use, fair procurement practice, good auditing and the decision-making that led to the spending.” 

The recipients and justifications for Covid-19 relief spending can be found here.

Analysis from economic and political commentator Bernard Hickey, found New Zealand’s Covid-19 relief spending helped make homeowners and businesses $952 billion richer, while the poorest are $400 million more in debt and need twice as many food parcels.

A colour map of different countries' levels of corruption. The deeper the red, the higher the rates of corruption. Photo: 2021 Corruption Index, Transparency International.

Haggie says the index takes Covid-19 into account through its section looking at human rights but this is mostly focussed on violations such as Governments having activists and journalists murdered.

“Countries with well-protected civil liberties generally score higher on the Corruption Perceptions Index, while countries who violate civil liberties tend to score lower,” Haggie says. 

Aotearoa, Finland and Denmark scored 88 of 100. 

The United Kingdom was ranked 11th with a score of 78, Australia was ranked 18th with a score of 73 and the United States was ranked 27th with a score of 67.

The lowest ranked country was South Sudan, with a score of 11.

Top Image: New Zealand money being “laundered”. (File photo) Photo: LazingBee/iStock

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