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When it comes to setting up an assignment overseas, there are several factors to consider, including the location of which the assignment will take place. Corruption is a signficiant issue around the globe, and there are many countries who are making little or no progress in ending this corruption, particularly in the public sector. When sending an assignee abroad, corruption is an issue which needs to be taken into consideration when location is determined, for the safety of the assignee. Here at Santa Fe Relcation we’ve put together a list of some of the most and least corrupt countries in the world.

Least Corrupt Countries

The Corruption Perceptions Index 2017, published by Transparency International, suggests that the likes of New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Singapore are some of the least corrupt countries in the world, with scores ranging between 89-84.

 Least corrupt 
2017 Rank2017 Score2016 Score2015 Score2014 Score2013 Score2012 ScoreRegion
New Zealand899091919190Asia Pacific
Denmark889091929190Europe and Central Asia
Finland 858990898990Europe and Central Asia
Norway858588868685Europe and Central Asia
Switzerland858686868685Europe and Central Asia
Singapore848485848687Asia Pacific
Sweden848889878988Europe and Central Asia
Canada 828283818184Americas
Luxembourg828185828080Europe and Central Asia
Netherlands828384838384Europe and Central Asia
United Kingdom828181787674Europe and Central Asia


While the UK remains as one of the most corrupt countries in the above list, its score has improved over the last five years from 74 to 82. This proves that the UK is making progress in ending corruption in the public sector. Interestingly, despite Sweden’s strong rule of law against most forms of corruption, the country has been criticised for its lack of foreign bribery law enforcement, which could be a main contributor to the countries steep decline from 89 in 2015 to 84 in 2017.

Most Corrupt Countries

It is unsurprising to see the countries on the brink or in the midst of war typecast as corrupt, and there has been signficiant levels of criticism towards the legal systems in all of the countries listed below over recent years.

Most corrupt
2017 Rank2017 Score2016 Score2015 Score2014 Score2013 Score2012 ScoreRegion
Somalia9108888Sub Saharan Africa
South Sudan1211151514N/ASub Saharan Africa
Syria141318201726Middle East and North Africa
Afghanistan1515111288Asia Pacific
Yemen161418191823Middle East and North Africa
Sudan161412111113Middle East and North Africa
Libya171416181521Middle East and North Africa
North Korea17128888Asia Pacific
Guinea-Bissau171617191925Sub Saharan Africa
Equatorial Guinea17N/AN/AN/AN/AN/ASub Saharan Africa


Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are among the five most corrupted countries.

Research from the Committee to Protect Journalists identified that since 2002 approximately 9 out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score less than 45 on the index. Managing Director of Transparency International, an international non-governmental organization which strives to take action to fight against global corruption, Patricia Moreira, stated that: “No activist or reporter should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption.” 

“Given current crackdowns on both civil society and the media worldwide, we need to do more to protect those who speak up.”

Before setting up an assignment abroad, it is important that businesses are aware  of the host country’s corruption levels in order to ensure assignees are safe and are not at risk of unnecessary danger. For more information, get in touch with a member of our expert team on 0208 961 4141, today.

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