Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 11:15 UK

Rise in global corruption fears

Dollars and cents
Fears over corruption have rise, the report says

The impact of the financial crisis has increased people's fears of corruption among private companies, a global survey has said.

Transparency International said 53% of 73,000 respondents from 69 countries now saw the private sector as being corrupt, up from 45% in 2004.

The report also found that a majority of people believed private firms paid sweeteners to influence public policy.

However, respondents said political parties were the most corrupt bodies.

What is needed now is bold actions by companies... to report more transparently on finances and interactions with government
Huguette Labelle, Transparency International

"These results show a public sobered by a financial crisis precipitated by weak regulations and a lack of corporate accountability," said Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International, a Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog.

Private sector bribery of politicians was seen as a particularly serious problem in Georgia and Armenia, but it remains a major issue in the US and Canada, according to the survey.

Half of the respondents said they would be willing to pay a premium to buy from firms that were free from corruption.

'Impossible choices'

"What is needed now is bold actions by companies... to report more transparently on finances and interactions with government," said Ms Labelle.

More than one in 10 respondents said they had needed to pay a bribe over the past year, with the police seen as pocketing the most illegal money.

Low income houses were said to be the most likely to have to pay bribes.

"As economic growth shifts into reverse, poor households are increasingly forced to make impossible choices in allocating scarce resources," said Ms Labelle.

"Do parents pay a bribe so that a sick child can see the doctor or do they buy food for their family?"

Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda were the most affected countries, with more than 50% of their respondents saying they had paid a bribe in the past year.



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