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Russian and Chinese firms most likely to bribe overseas

November 2, 2011 | 12:58 pm

Companies from Russia, followed by China, are the most likely to engage in bribery when doing business abroad, according to a new survey released Wednesday by the anticorruption group Transparency International.

Russian and Chinese firms, which invested scores of billions of dollars overseas last year, ranked at the bottom of a list of 28 leading international and regional exporting countries surveyed for Transparency International’s 2011 Bribe Payers Index.

Companies from the Netherlands and Switzerland were the least likely to engage in bribery, the watchdog group found.

“In their meeting in Cannes this week, G-20 [Group of 20] governments must tackle foreign bribery as a matter of urgency,” Transparency International Chairwoman Huguette Labelle said in a statement. “Governments can press home the advances made by putting resources behind investigations and prosecutions of foreign bribery, so that there is a very real deterrent to unethical and illegal behavior.”

No country was totally untainted, but some were better than others. The U.S. placed as the 10th country least likely to bribe, behind Australia and Canada, which tied for sixth place, and Singapore and Britain, which shared eighth place as the least likely to engage in kickback practices.

The survey reported the widespread practice of companies paying bribes to win public tenders, avoid regulations, influence policy and expedite government processes.  Public works and construction, along with the oil and gas industry, were seen as the sectors most prone to bribery, the report found.

Even more common was the practice of business-to-business bribes, according to the report.

“This suggests that corruption is not only a concern for the public sector, but for the business sector as well, carrying major reputational and financial risks for the companies involved,” the organization said.


Q&A: Taking on Russian corruption
-- Ann M. Simmons in Los Angeles