Transparency International – the global coalition against corruption, envisions a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people across the globe are free of corruption.

The Berlin-based organization conducts an annual ‘Corruption Perception Index’, measuring the perceived levels of public sector corruption and humanity’s honesty in 176 countries and territories around the world. The index looks to both praise and shame countries through ranking of perceived bribery and other graft.

With ever-advancing social media and tougher anti-graft laws in many countries, it is now far easier to expose corrupt officials; and when the global economy loses momentum, tolerance of unfairness and inefficiencies of corruption is lost.

Annual rankings do not appear to have improved, whereby two thirds of the 176 countries remain in the bottom half of the corruption scale. However, it is more evident that there are concerted efforts against corruption. For instance, Brazil recently held its largest ever corruption trial of former politicians, and a large number of protests in China are outcries against local corrupt officials. China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, has also spoken against corruption, stating that it could “kill the party and ruin the country”, and has also emphasized that “transparency is the best anticorrosive”.

Efforts to fight corruption are not so apparent in other countries. Nigerian tailor, Ukudi Nawa, reported that corrupt officials make it hard to turn on the lights, forcing her to spend more and consequently cause her to raise prices to pay for the generator.

Transparency International’s Huguette Labelle describes how the boundaries of corruption can transcend to what is perceived to be basic rights – “We have hundreds of millions of people around the world who face daily extortion, and in some countries it can be 50% of the population paying bribes to gain access to essential services like water, education, health”.

Like Xi Jinping, Labelle is an advocate of transparency, and perceives it as a fundamental tool in fighting corruption, and praises Brazil for publishing a daily account of government spending abuses. Some of the worst corruption scores are held by Somalia, North Korea, and Afghanistan. The world’s least corrupt nations are Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand; surprisingly, America is ranked 19th.

The 2012 Index has fuelled concern over Israel’s lack of progress in reducing corruption. Israel ranked 30th in 2010, 36th in 2011, and now in 2012 ranks 39th. Among Western countries only Italy (72nd), and Greece (94th) were perceived as more corrupt.

The index’s results indicate that corruption remains an entrenched part of the global economy. Transparency International’s Managing Director, Cobus de Swart states “corruption is the world’s most talked about problem. The world’s leading economies should lead by example”.

There is no doubt that corruption is one of the key variables to consider when setting up and conducting business in any given country. Therefore, it is important to be well versed in the reputation of a country when planning your company incorporation. Healy Consultants Group PLC believe this is one of the key factors why company registration in New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore has become so popular as these countries combine low levels of corruption with good infrastructure and pro-business incentives to make them efficient jurisdictions for operating a global business.