Its latest report on business leaders’ perceptions of corruption put the United States at 71, down from 75, on a scale of 0-100, the group said.
Zoe Reiter said that it sounds a “wake-up call” about the need to tackle conflicts of interest, undue influence of the private sector and widening gaps between rich and poor, the watchdog’s acting representative to the United States.
“This is a red flag because it’s really part of a pattern that we’ve seen since the 2008 global financial crisis of a loss of trust … in our public institutions.”
“People don’t see us as having adequate mechanisms in place to fight corruption and ensure the accountability of our elected officials, she told Reuters.
She said further that “concerns around the Trump administration are quite serious, but this has been stewing for several years,” she said. “Conflict of interest wasn’t a new problem, but it was illuminated in its glory when you have someone who is basically breaking norms.”
“Trump is a symptom not a cause. His presidency is illuminating some of the problems.”
TI said Denmark and New Zealand had the best scores on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) again in 2018, scoring 88 and 87, while Somalia, Syria and South Sudan remained at the bottom, with scores of 10, 13 and 13.
The group has it that more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50 on the 2018 index, and the average was 43, said TI, which has more than 100 chapters worldwide.
And only 20 countries had significantly improved their scores since 2012, including Argentina and Ivory Coast.
Sixteen others, including Australia, Chile and Malta, declined significantly in the same period, the group added.
It went further to State that the average score for EU and western European countries held steady at 66, while sub-Saharan Africa scored just 32, TI said. A score of 100 is considered “very clean”, while a score of zero is highly corrupt.
Its analysis showed a clear link between having a healthy democracy and fighting public sector corruption, and cited declining scores for Turkey and Hungary, in connection with challenges to the rule of law and press freedoms, TI said.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, who chairs the global civil society group said, “corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and … where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.”