Page last updated at 23:02 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:02 UK

One in four 'asked to pay bribes'

Copper mine
Corruption was perceived to be most prevalent in the mining sector

Almost one in four companies has been approached to pay a bribe to win or retain business in the last two years, a survey has indicated.

The survey of 1,186 executives in 33 countries by Ernst & Young also suggests that 18% had lost business to a competitor prepared to pay a bribe.

Corrupt practices were perceived to be most prevalent in mining, with fewer instances in energy and banking.

Just over a tenth of UK executives said their firm had been asked for a bribe.

This compared with 16% in Germany and 10% in France.

"Recommendations of best practice in anti-bribery compliance will require companies to take a much more comprehensive view of the way bribery and corruption affects their business," said John Smart, UK head of fraud investigation at Ernst & Young.

Corruption was more widespread outside Europe.

Only 6% of respondents in France and Germany said their organisation had experienced at least one incident of bribery or corruption in the last two years.

In the UK, this was 13% but still below a global average of 24%.

Almost half of those surveyed in the mining sector said that corrupt practices are prevalent, compared with 31% and 30% in the banking and energy industries.

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