‘Corruption fanning eurozone debt crisis’

A top anti-graft organization has warned that the eurozone debt crisis would further deteriorate due to climbing corruption in some European countries such as Greece and Italy.

The Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) issued the warning on Thursday after the crisis-hit EU countries were placed in a list of nations considered as the most sleaze-ridden, AFP reported.

The anti-graft watchdog added that the economic problem in the eurozone area was “partly because of public authorities’ failure to tackle bribery and tax evasion that are key drivers of the debt crisis.”

Italy and Greece rank 69th and 80th, respectively, among over 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011.

The index scores 182 countries and territories from zero (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean), based on data from 17 surveys that study factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information, as well as conflicts of interest.

The eurozone dilemma “reflects poor financial management, lack of transparency and mismanagement of public funds” in the area, said TI’s research director Robin Hodess.

“There is a strong link between poor performance in terms of perceptions of corruption and broader issues around economic governance,” added Hodess.

The TI official urged Italy and Greece to do “much more” in fighting corruption because “people feel the pinch at all levels” when the graft is widespread.

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