The 2011 Bribe Payers Index from Transparency International (TI) has found that Russian and Chinese companies are most likely to pay bribes when working abroad. The study also found bribery was most prevalent in the public works and construction sector.
The Bribe Payers Index ranks countries from 0 to 10, where 0 corresponds to the view that companies from these countries always pay bribes and 10 means they never do. Of the 28 countries surveyed, based on the views of 3000 business executives worldwide, Russia scored the lowest at 6.1, followed by China at 6.5. Other countries at the foot of the table included Mexico, Indonesia and the UAE.
A statement from TI said, "It is of particular concern that China and Russia are at the bottom of the index. Given the increasing global presence of businesses from these countries, bribery and corruption are likely to have a substantial impact on the societies in which they operate and on the ability of companies to compete fairly in these markets."
The Netherlands and Switzerland topped the table, with scores of 8.8. The top 10 places were all taken by developed countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore and the US alongside others from Europe.
The TI report also said that out of 19 major industries, public works and construction was the most susceptible to bribery. It scored 5.3 on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means companies in the sector always bribe and 10 means they never do.
TI said the most prevalent form of bribery in the sector was on a grand scale, with payments to high-ranking politicians or political parties to achieve influence. This was followed by petty bribery of low-level public officials and private bribery between companies. The construction industry had the worst scores for all three types of bribery of any sector.
TI said, "The view that the public works contracts and construction sector is vulnerable to bribery is not new and is due to the particular characteristics of this sector. Contracts are usually large and construction projects are often unique and therefore difficult to benchmark for costs and time. This makes it easier to hide and inflate additional expenditure.
"It is also a fragmented industry, often involving contractors and sub-contractors, which makes the tracing of payments and the diffusion of standards of practice more complex."