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Survey: Bribery seen as widespread

BERLIN, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The global public sees some countries as more likely to have companies that bribe when operating beyond their borders, a Berlin watchdog indicated Tuesday.

Transparency International's 2008 Bribe Payers Index indicated Belgium and Canada ranked No. 1 with a score of 8.8 out of a squeaky clean 10, indicating firms there are seen as least likely to bribe abroad, the organization said in a news release. The Netherlands and Switzerland shared third place, each with a score of 8.7.

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Germany, Japan and Britain all tied for No. 5 at 8.6, followed by No. 8 Australia at 8.5, and France, Singapore and the United States tied for ninth place at 8.1.

The index reported Russia ranked last with a score of 5.9, followed by China at 6.5, Mexico 6.6 and India 6.8.

The survey also indicated public works and construction companies to be the most corruption-prone when dealing with the public sector, Transparency International said.

"The BPI provides evidence that a number of companies from major exporting countries still use bribery to win business abroad, despite awareness of its damaging impact on corporate reputations and ordinary communities," Transparency International Chairwoman Huguette Labelle said.

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The inequity corruption causes should prompt governments "to redouble their efforts to enforce existing laws and regulations on foreign bribery and for companies to adopt effective anti-bribery programs," she said.

The index ranks 22 leading international and regional exporting countries by the tendency of their firms to bribe abroad. It is based on responses from 2,742 senior business executives from companies in 26 countries.

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