New Zealand is back on top of the latest anti-corruption global rankings after slipping to fourth last year.
Justice Minister Amy Adams said initiatives such as introducing new bribery offences, fast-tracking anti-money laundering reforms, and ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption had helped lift New Zealand to number one, tied with Denmark.
Countries are scored highly for press freedom, public access to information about government spending and fair judges.
New Zealand has been number one on the rankings for eight of the last 10 years.
Transparency International's annual report said Qatar showed the biggest drop in confidence in 2016, after the FIFA soccer scandals and reports of human rights abuses. Somalia was the worst performer on the list for the 10th year.
The group said the report showed pervasive public-sector corruption around the world. Sixty-nine percent of 176 countries scored below 50 on the index scale of 0 to 100, with 0 perceived to be highly corrupt and 100 considered "very clean." More countries declined in the index than improved in 2016, it noted.
New Zealand and Denmark, which had scores of 90, were followed closely by Finland (89) and Sweden (88). Somalia, with 10, was followed by South Sudan (11), North Korea (12) and Syria (13).
The United States ranked 18th on the list, down from 16th in 2016, with a perceived corruption score of 74.
- RNZ / Reuters