Countries' scores could range from 0 (for most corrupt) to 10 (for least corrupt) in a survey which quizzed business leaders, academics and risk analysts on their perceptions of public officials and politicians.

Chairman of Transparency International Laurence Cockcroft told journalists in London on Tuesday that the survey showed levels of corruption were “worryingly high in European countries … and in potentially wealthy oil-rich countries”.

Bad performance

Bottom-of-the-class Bangladesh achieved just 1.3 out of 10, slightly worse than Nigeria and Haiti.

Worst 10 culprits 

Bangladesh   1.3
Nigeria            1.4
Haiti                 1.5
Paraguay       1.6
Myanmar        1.6
Tajikistan       1.8
Georgia           1.8
Cameroon      1.8
Azerbaijan     1.8
Angola            1.8

At the other end of the spectrum, all Nordic countries were ranked in the top transparency 10, with Finland scoring an impressive 9.7

The index rates the level of corruption in 133 countries around the world and stressed that nine in 10 developing countries need "practical support" to fight corruption. 
  
Fighting corruption

"Rich countries must provide practical support to developing country governments that demonstrate the political will to curb corruption," Peter Eigen, director of Transparency International, said on releasing the index.

Tranparency's top 10

Finland             9.7
Iceland            9.6
Denmark         9.5
New Zealand   9.5
Singapore        9.4
Sweden            9.3
Netherlands    8.9
Australia          8.8
Norway             8.8
Switzerland     8.8

But he added that "those countries starting with a high degree of corruption should not be penalised, since they are in the most urgent need of support." 

Only a third of countries around the world actually scored over half marks in a survey that reveals it is not only poor countries that are deemed crooked.

Released in Berlin, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2003 is a statistical analysis co-ordinated by Professor Johann Graf Lambsdorff of Passau Univeristy in Germany, who lead a group of international specialists.

The CPI complements the Transparency International's Bribe Payers Index, which lists the propensity of companies from top exporting countries to pay backhanders, a list topped by Russia and China in 2002.