By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Brazil was ranked 69th among 175 countries, up from last year when it ranked 72nd among 177 countries. The Index, prepared since 1995 measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in the countries surveyed based on data and research supplied by independent institutions and analyzed by specialists.

Protesters take to the streets to demand end of corruption in Brazil, photo by Antonio Cruz, Agencia Brasil.
Protesters take to the streets to demand end of corruption in Brazil, photo by Antonio Cruz, Agencia Brasil.

The NGO says that more than two thirds of the 175 countries scored below fifty, on a scale from zero (perceived to be highly corrupt) to one hundred (perceived to be very clean). Denmark comes out on top in 2014 with a score of 92 while North Korea and Somalia share last place, scoring just eight.

“The 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index shows that economic growth is undermined and efforts to stop corruption fade when leaders and high level officials abuse power to appropriate public funds for personal gain,” said José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International.

This year Brazil came in tied with countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Senegal, and behind Latin American countries such as Chile and Uruguay. Among the BRICS, the country fared better than China, Russia and India but was behind South Africa. According to Ugaz the index highlights the problems that emerging economies have with public sector corruption, misappropriation of funds and bribery.

The survey however, was conducted in August, before the latest Petrobras scandal which has put Dilma Rousseff’s government on the spotlight for corruption. The Lava Jato operation (Carwash) is the name given by federal police to the on-going investigations into a money-laundering scheme involving former and present Petrobras directors and employees, politicians and high-ranking executives from some of Brazil’s largest construction and engineering firms.

The most wide reaching corruption scandal in recent years for Brazil was the Mensalão case, which went to trial in August 2012, seven years after the scheme surfaced. Despite guilty verdicts none of those convicted had served any prison time until November 2013. The mensalão scandle, which accused several leaders of the PT party for offering monthly bribes to members of Congress in exchange for their support on legislation between 2003 and 2005, had fueled hopes that it might put an end to Brazil’s notorious culture of impunity.

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