updated 10/4/2006 3:21:02 PM ET 2006-10-04T19:21:02

Anti-corruption advocates Wednesday called on the governments of India, China and Russia to do more to stop their multinational companies from bribing when doing business abroad.

A survey of 30 of the world’s leading exporting countries ranked the three countries at the bottom, with India the worst offender. Switzerland topped the ranking of the Bribe Payers Index 2006.

Officials from the anti-corruption group Transparency International urged the governments of the three fast emerging economies to take a more active role in cleaning up the business practices of their companies.

“Our advice to these countries is to give themselves the legislation that would allow them to prosecute their own state-owned enterprises or their own companies,” said Huguette Labelle, head of Transparency International.

“But also that we work with these enterprises and companies to help them to ensure that they do not bribe, to help them develop their own codes of conduct, their own practices and ways of doing business that excludes bribing,” Labelle said.

Behind Switzerland, the survey ranked Sweden, Australia, Austria and Canada as the most effective in preventing their companies from bribing.

U.S. takes ninth spot
Even countries such as the United States, which ranked ninth, came in for some criticism.

“Since the U.S. was one of the first countries to really have legislation to prosecute their own companies if they were bribing abroad, we look to the U.S. in this respect to be a leading country,” Labelle said, “and hope that the next time they might be at the top of the list.”

Transparency International ranked countries according to their effectiveness in preventing their companies from bribing when they do business abroad. Its “Bribe Payers Index 2006” limited itself to the world’s 30 largest exporting countries.

On a scale from 10 for no corruption, down to 1 for rampant corruption, the highest score went to Switzerland with 7.81, with the lowest score going to India at 4.62.

The survey’s results found companies bribing more often in developing countries, where the means to combat corruption are weak.

“Bribing companies are actively undermining the best efforts of governments in developing nations to improve governance, and thereby driving the vicious cycle of poverty,” Labelle said.

The results were based on interviews with more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries.

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