Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dirty laundry

India worst performer on Transparency Bribe Payers Index
NEW DELHI: In a global recognition of a different kind, India has been ranked as the worst performer by Transparency International on its global Bribe Payers Index, which is based on the propensity of companies from the world's 30 leading exporting countries in bribing abroad.

The international corruption watchdog on Wednesday said overseas bribery is still common among the world's export giants despite the existence of international anti-bribery laws, while companies from emerging export powers India, China and Russia are the worst performers.

India has been ranked at the 30th position in the Transparency International 2006 Bribe Payers Index (BPI), with a score of 4.62. A score of 10 indicates a perception of no corruption, while zero means corruption is seen as rampant.

Transparency International said that Switzerland has managed a leading score of only 7.8, which is far from perfect. This indicates there might be variations here but there are no real winners, it added.

Companies from the wealthiest countries have been ranked in the top half, but they still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies, it added.

"In the case of China and other emerging export powers, efforts to strengthen domestic anti-corruption activities have failed to extend abroad," the report said.

"Bribing companies are actively undermining the best efforts of governments in developing nations to improve governance, and thereby driving the vicious cycle of poverty," said Transparency International Chairwoman Huguette Labelle.

"It is hypocritical that Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based companies continue to bribe across the globe, while their governments pay lip-service to enforcing the law," Transparency International CEO David Nussbaum said.

"The enforcement record on international anti-bribery laws makes for short and disheartening reading," he added.

"Domestic legislation has been introduced in many countries following the adoption of the UN and OECD anti-corruption conventions, but there are still major problems of implementation and enforcement," he added.

The index has been prepared on the basis of responses of more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries polled in the World Economic Forum's Executive Opinion Survey 2006.

AWB harmed nation's standing, survey finds
AUSTRALIA has slipped from its ranking as the least corrupt country in the world, a survey of international bribery has found.

The latest Bribe Payers Index shows Australia dropped from first place to rank third, below Switzerland and Sweden.

It follows the Volcker inquiry, which exposed wheat exporter AWB's involvement in the United Nations oil-for-food scandal, but does not reflect the blanket media coverage of the Cole inquiry.

"We can expect that it will be of importance in the next survey," said the chairman of Transparency International in Australia, Frank Costigan, QC.

Mr Costigan praised the Minister for Justice, Senator Chris Ellison, for endorsing moves to outlaw foreign bribery.

But he said the Government was yet to implement reforms recommended by the OECD.

Labor's spokesman for public accountability, Kelvin Thomson, said the AWB scandal had hurt Australia's standing. "The Howard Government's turning a blind eye to the AWB's payment of kickbacks has damaged Australia's previously excellent reputation as a corruption-free zone."

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