World Economy

Bribery a Concern in Europe, Central Asia

One in six households in Europe and Central Asia have paid a bribe.One in six households in Europe and Central Asia have paid a bribe.

Transparency International has published the results of a poll on corruption in over 40 nations in Europe and Central Asia. One in three people there see bribes changing hands as one of the greatest challenges.

Transparency International spoke to 60,000 people in 42 countries in Europe and Central Asia for a survey that tried to gauge corruption awareness levels, DW reported.

The results of the poll published Wednesday showed that overall, 30% of respondents said corruption went unreported, because people felt the consequences. Another 14% said they wouldn’t speak up, because corruption was too difficult to prove, with another 12% argued bribery wasn’t reported, because people did not believe anything would be done about it.

TI warned one reason that more Europeans were starting to support populist and nationalist movements could be that they believed traditional democratic institutions were “failing to deliver on promises of prosperity and equal opportunity,” and that they could not be trusted anymore.

“Governments are simply not doing enough to tackle corruption, because individuals at the top are benefiting,” Transparency chairman Jose Ugaz said in a statement. “To end this troubling relationship between wealth, power and corruption, governments must require higher levels of transparency.”

TI said that within the European Union, Spaniards were most concerned about corruption, with 66% of respondents saying it was a huge problem. Corruption perception levels in the EU were lowest in Germany, with only 2% of those polled identifying it as a major issue.

Other European nations seen by their citizens as having big corruption problems were Moldova, Kosovo, Slovenia and Ukraine.

The study found that one in six households in Europe and Central Asia paid a bribe in the past year to access public services. It said the worst were countries in the former Soviet Union, where some 30% of public service users bribed officials to get what they wanted.

In the EU, bribery involving households was highest in Romania, followed by Lithuania and Hungary.

Bribery is a way of life for British companies working in emerging markets, with 85% of managers forced to resort to it to do business, according to another report.

A 12-year inquiry by Prof Andrew Kakabadse, of Henley Business School, claims the vast majority of UK managers operating in these markets resort to the dishonest practice on a monthly basis–often with the tacit permission of their chief executives.

The days of used banknotes being handed over in brown envelopes are gone, Kakabadse said, with bribery having turned into a “highly organized, almost professionalized, business of agents taking ‘facilitation fees’ to secure deals”.

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