Bribery is alive and well in the developed world, as competition for contracts remains fierce among large global companies.
And much of the graft paid to win contracts and smooth deal closings has the blessing of corporate management, with CEOs involved in 12 percent of payments, according to a report Tuesday from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The full scope of global bribery is tough to quantify; an unknown number of cases go unreported every year. The OECD study is only a snapshot, drawn from 427 foreign bribery cases that have been prosecuted under the group's 15-year-old Anti-Bribery Convention. Another 390 cases are ongoing, according to the OECD.
About a third of the cases studied by the Paris-based group were reported by the companies involved. More than half of those were uncovered during internal audits or due diligence for a merger or acquisitions. Another 13 percent of bribes were uncovered by police investigations. Only 2 percent were brought to light by whistleblowers.
The report found that most bribes are paid to officials at state-owned enterprises. Two-thirds of all these payments grease the skids in four industries: oil and mining, construction, transportation and storage, and information and communication. About three-quarters were paid through intermediaries.