Last week Transparency International (“TI”) released its Bribe Payers Index (see here). The index “ranks 28 of the world’s largest economies according to perceived likelihood of companies from these countries to pay bribe’s abroad.” TI’s data is derived from a survey of approximately 3,000 business executives worldwide. The executives were asked for each of the 28 countries with which they have a business relationship with (for example as supplier, client, partner or competitor) “how often do firms headquartered in that country engage in bribery in this country.”
Among the key findings in the index are that “companies from China and Russia were viewed as the most likely to pay bribes” and that “perceptions of the frequency of foreign bribery by country and business sector have on average seen no improvement since the last Bribe Payers Index published in 2008.”
As to China and Russia, the TI report states “it is of particular concern that China and Russia are at the bottom of the index.” The report states as follows. “Given the increasing global presence of businesses from these countries, bribery and corruption are likely to have a substantial impact on the societies in which they operate and on the ability of companies to compete fairly in these markets.”
In terms of perception of bribery by companies, the U.S. ranked a rather dismal 10th, behind Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Even though the U.S. clearly leads the world in enforcement of its anti-bribery law, the survey seems to suggest that ad hoc enforcement action of the FCPA is not having – at least in the minds of the survey participants – a meaningful deterrent effect in reducing instances of improper payments.