For the first time since 1996, Latin America’s largest economy is seen as more corrupt than Argentina, sinking 17 spots in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, now lists Brazil as 96th out of 180, tied with Peru, Panama and Colombia. Bahrain and Liberia are the only countries who slipped in the ranking more than Brazil did.
Brazil’s tumble comes as the country grapples with the graft conviction of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the “Car Wash” corruption investigation, which was upheld in court on January 24, as well as the ongoing investigation into current president Michel Temer for allegations of corruption. Da Silva still intends to participate in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election.
Argentina’s rise in the poll, meanwhile, comes amid President Mauricio Macri’s ongoing efforts to fight corruption, such as his introduction of a plea-bargain law as well as plans to curb nepotism in government positions.
Argentina rose ten spots to rank 85th, and Uruguay ranks 23rd, the highest among Latin American countries. Venezuela, ranked 169th, remains the Latin American country with the highest perception of corruption, with Haiti and Nicaragua following close behind.
Venezuela’s high-ranking spot is emblematic of the economic and political turmoil it has faced over the past few years and it does not appear to be changing course any time soon. The country is seeing diplomatic ties severed and partnerships dry up as it approaches a highly criticised election in April.
Transparency International’s ranking system aggregates surveys and assessments from 12 institutions and is used by businesspeople, analysts, experts, and investors as a benchmark measure of corruption perception.