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And the most corrupt nation this year is.... (+video)

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Worldwide, New Zealand, Denmark, and Finland had the highest scores, aided by strong systems ensuring public access to information and regulations that keep politicians and the political system in check. On the other end of the spectrum, North Korea, Somalia, and Afghanistan brought up the rear, all characterized by a lack of transparent and accountable leaders and public institutions in shambles.

“After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power…. [S]ocieties continue to pay the high cost of corruption,” said Huguette Labell, chair of Transparency International. The organization notes:

Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or healthcare. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds.

Take Greece, for example. The past year has seen endless protests over public leadership, false reporting on financial status, and strict austerity measures. “Greece's global ranking fell from 80th in 2011 to 94th in 2012, reflecting the country's continuing economic turmoil and widespread tax evasion,” reports the BBC, making Greece the European Union country most perceived as corrupt.

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