21st May 2019

Italian companies feature worst in EU for bribery

A survey of companies from 10 EU countries has found that overseas bribery is still a feature of everyday business life with Italian companies coming off the worst in the European rankings.

The Transparency International (TI) bribery survey, which covers 30 countries worldwide, found that no country scores perfectly on the bribery front although Swiss - non-EU - and Swedish companies emerged at the top of the ladder with companies least likely to offer bribes.

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"Leading the ranking is Switzerland, but even its score of 7.8 [out of ten] is far from perfect. The message: there may be variations here but there are no real winners," says the anti-corruption organisation in a statement.

The worst ranking EU members are Portugal coming in at number 16 and Italy at number 20 on the list while EU hopeful Turkey followed by Russia come in at 27 and 28 on the list.

The survey also found that French and Italian companies are among the worst for trying to get business done through palm greasing in poor African countries - but the propensity to bribe in poorer countries is a trend seen throughout the 30 companies surveyed.

"Companies from the wealthiest countries generally rank in the top half of the Index, but still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing countries," says TI.

In March of this year, notes Transparency International by way of example, German-US car company DaimlerChrysler admitted that an internal probe confirmed allegations of improper payments made by their staff in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

"Companies from emerging export powers India, China and Russia rank among the worst," it says.

While Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Austria and Canada make the top five, at the other end Taiwan, Turkey, Russia, China and India round off the list.

The results are taken from responses from more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries. A score of ten means no corruption while zero means corruption is rampant - India, at the bottom, received 4.62.

Respondents were asked about their experience of which countries' firms are most prepared to pay bribes.

TI said it focused on firms from the 30 biggest exporting states, which between them accounted for more than 80% of all world exports.

It also notes that it ranked countries rather than companies in its survey as the "supply side of corruption in international business transactions implies a shared responsibility between companies operating abroad and their home governments."

"This survey indicates the success and failure of governments to control corruption abroad by companies headquartered in their national borders," it concludes.

The ten EU counties of the 30 surveyed were Sweden (2nd highest ranking), Austria (4), UK (6), Germany (7), Netherlands (8), Belgium (9), Spain (13), France (15), Portugal (16) and Italy (20).


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