News ID: 238102
Published: 1035 GMT January 29, 2019

Corruption seen rising in US under Trump, watchdog warns

Corruption seen rising in US under Trump, watchdog warns

The US slid down the rankings of a global corruption index last year as America’s system of checks and balances faced growing threats on Donald Trump’s watch, Transparency International (TI) — the global civil society organization based in Berlin, Germany, leading the fight against corruption — said on Tuesday.

The US lost four points to score 71 out of 100 on the watchdog’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index, sending the country tumbling out of the top 20 for the first time since 2011, reported.

“The low score comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power,” TI said in its annual report.

The second year of Trump’s presidency was a turbulent one, full of controversial issues such as, among other things, to his backing for a Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexual assault.

The US leader, who frequently rails against the media for writing ‘fake news’, was also dogged by accusations of nepotism and conflicts of interest.

Last month, Trump agreed to close his personal charity after the New York attorney general, Barbara Underwood, said it had acted “as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests”.

TI’s closely-watched index ranks 180 nations according to their perceived level of public sector corruption, where a score of zero means very corrupt and 100 signifies very clean.

“The Trump presidency has illuminated the cracks in the US system for ensuring a government that is accountable to the public interest,” said TI’s Zoe Reiter, acting representative to the US.

“But President Trump is a symptom rather than a cause; the issues were there before he took office. For example, the Office of Government Ethics simply doesn’t have the teeth to control for conflicts of interest at the highest levels,” she said.

As in previous years in the index New Zealand and Nordic countries were among the best in class, with Denmark narrowly beating New Zealand to the top spot at 88 and 87 points respectively.

Strife-torn Somalia was once again the worst performer.

“With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe — often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies — we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” TI’s managing director, Patricia Moreira, said.

As part of its recommendations, the group urged governments to stand up for a free press and support civil society organizations that encourage public oversight over government spending.

The index is compiled based on data from 12 international organizations including the World Bank, African Development Bank and the World Economic Forum.




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