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Most North, South American senior executives say anti-bribery laws inadequate


More than two-thirds of senior executives in North and South America do not think their country's anti-bribery laws are adequate to reduce corporate corruption, according to a study by Washington-based Miller & Chevalier Chartered.

The study, conducted in collaboration with 12 Central and South American law firms headquartered in 14 countries, found that 28% of companies in the United States, Central and South America believe legislation in their country has been effective in controlling corruption among corporate entities. While troubling, the figure actually represents a significant boost in executives' confidence in their local laws when compared with 2008, when just 15% said their country's laws were effective.

The study also indicated a slight reduction in the amount of bribery perceived to be taking place in the U.S. and Latin America. Fifty-one percent of the 439 executives surveyed said their company has lost business to a competing firm that was willing to make illegal payments to business partners and government officials, whereas 57% said the same in 2008.

“The anti-corruption environment throughout the region is showing some signs of improvement from a corporate compliance perspective,” the survey's authors wrote in their executive summary. Eighty-five percent of executives said their company had taken actions since 2008 to improve compliance with anti-bribery laws, an 8% increase over the past five years. Among responding companies that would be subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, only 22% weren't aware of their obligations under the law, compared with 30% in 2008.


“These slight changes, in the aggregate, suggest overall improvement and trends to watch,” the report said.

In addition to illicit acts among competing companies, the survey also addressed perceptions of government corruption. Among the respondents’ 14 countries of origin, Chile was picked as the nation with the least corrupt government, followed by Uruguay and the United States.

At the other end of the spectrum, Paraguay was ranked as having the most corrupt government, followed Venezuela and Guatemala.

Out of the 14 countries listed in the survey, Paraguay was the only nation in which not one of the survey respondents indicated anti-bribery laws were effective.