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Scandal-Hit Spain Plummets 10 Places In Global Corruption Index

posted 5 Dec 2013, 14:51 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 5 Dec 2013, 14:52 ]

Spain posts second-largest drop on transparency international list with MaliLibyaGambia, andGuinea-Bissau.

MADRID, SPAIN (REUTERS) -  Spain has slumped 10 places to a rank of 40 in a global index of perceived official corruption after a spate of scandals in its ruling centre-right party and the royal family, watchdog Transparency International (TI) said on Tuesday (December 3).

In its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2013, the anti-graft organisation said Spain was the second biggest loser of points alongside GambiaMaliGuinea-Bissau and Libya.

The only country to tumble further was Syria, rocked by civil war.

Spain's five-year economic slump, which has forced it to adopt tight austerity laws, exposed how cosy relations between politicians and construction magnates fed a disastrous housing bubble.

The former treasurer of the governing People's Party (PP) told a judge that he had channelled cash donations from construction magnates into leaders' pockets, and he was found to have 48 million euros in Swiss bank accounts.

Following the publication by El Pais newspaper of documents hand-written by Barcenas in which alleged appeared undeclared pays to members of the People's Party, PM Mariano Rajoy held a news conference in which he denied any implications.

The king's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, was also charged this year with embezzling six million euros in public funds.

The scandals also highlighted a lack of accountability in political parties and even the watchdogs charged with keeping them clean.

This prompted lawmakers to react to public outrage and draw up Spain's first freedom of information law.

"The government in the corruption subject, democratic regeneration, first it has set out a transparency law and it has been already approved. It is on force and now we are in the process of creating the transparency web. That is the web page in which the public administration has to load the figures that will be accessible for other autonomous regions," said deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria at a news conference on Thursday (December 5).

Spain had been the only European Union nation without a law guaranteeing citizens a right to information on how public funds are spent.

Manuel Villoria, executive member of the international transparency committee, said the new law was still inadequate.

"Right now it is (the law) not enough. We will need to change the law to introduce improvements in the law in the future because right now with this law is going to be very difficult to have real transparency in our system. Anyway is better to have this law than nothing," he told Reuters.

TI ranked 177 countries in 2013, placing New Zealand and Denmark joint first. The duo were also deemed the world's least corrupt in 2012, alongside FinlandSomaliaNorth Korea andAfghanistan tied at last place, unchanged from last year.

If Spain wants to polish its image, Villoria said procedures should be changed in order to guarantee more judicial independence.

"It is necessary to change procedures and to give much more independence to the big board who are fighting corruption. For example judges. Judges are independent in Spain but they have pressures and if they want to have a career they should be very careful when they judge politicians," he said.

The Berlin-based institute measures perceptions of graft rather than actual levels due to the secrecy that surrounds most corrupt dealings.

It uses a scale where 100 stands for the most clean and 0 for the most corrupt.

According to the latest data from the CIS (Sociological Investigation Centre) corruption is spaniards second concern after unemployment.

"The corruption in the government is similar to that found in the society. We are a country of rascals. Many times if we can avoid to pay taxes we do it, if we can defraud the national health service we do it, if we can swindle the neighbourhood we do it. So to say, this goes with the society and I think it can be solved with education," Madrid resident Fidel said.

"I think that all of them (politicians) should be fired, from the first to the last one no matter the party. All of them do the same, when they have money they rob," said Angela Mesa.

Greece remained the European Union state with the highest perceived level of corruption, although its four-point gain to 40 points helped it rise to 80th place from 94th in 2012.

The biggest improve on points was Myanmar, which emerged from 49 years of military rule in 2011. The Southeast Asian state gained 6 points, taking it to 157 from a previous 172.

Among the major global economies, the United States ranked 19 and China 80, both unchanged from last year, Russia improved slightly to joint 127th place, from a previous 133 and Japan slid one spot to 18.

Allegations that leaders of Spain's PP, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, took backhanders and the investigation into a member of the royal family are particularly damaging to Spain's reputation and in the last year have led thousands to the streets tired of austerity measures while corruption scandals fill the headlines in the newspapers.


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