Corruption remains ‘huge int’l issue’

London, October 9:

Corruption in seven major economies around the world remains a ‘huge international issue’, according to a report published today, with nearly half of all companies losing contracts because competitors submitted bribes.

In a survey of 350 companies in the United States, Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Brazil by risk consultancy Control Risks and law firm Simmons & Simmons, 43 per cent said they had lost business contracts because a competitor had paid a bribe.

Hong Kong remains the worst-affected of the seven surveyed, with more than three-quarters of all companies saying they were beaten to a contract by a bribe at some point in the last five years, up from 69 per cent in 2002.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, saw a six-point increase in the same measure to 46 per cent. The US also saw corruption increase — 44 per cent of American companies said they lost out on a contract because of a bribe, from 32 per cent in 2002.

Some 38 per cent of Brazilian companies said they lost a contract because a competitor paid a bribe, compared to 36 per cent of German companies, 34 per cent of French companies and 26 per cent of British companies.

“Corruption continues to be a huge international issue and honest companies are still losing out to dishonest competitors on a large scale,” said John Bray, a consultant at Control Risks specialising in corruption.

A tenth of the companies surveyed estimated that bribes paid could amount to up to half of the total costs of the project up for grabs, with a further seven per cent saying they could be even higher.

Levels of corruption have an adverse impact on a country’s ability to attract foreign investment, the survey indicated, with more than 35 per cent of respondents saying they had been deterred from investing in a country with a poor reputation for fighting corruption.

The problem is unlikely to get better in the coming years, either, according to the survey’s respondents — 32 per cent think that corruption is likely to increase, while 21 per cent think it will fall.

“It is clear there is still a long way to go before corruption becomes a thing of the past,” Bray said.