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US, Europe fail to halt corruption, bribes

Public confidence is sagging in government efforts to crack down on bribes and political corruption, especially in the US and western Europe, a survey showed.

Some 52% of Americans and 42% of western Europeans label their governments „not effective” at stamping out corrupt practices in business and public life, said Transparency International. „Corruption is having a pretty serious adverse impact on business life, political life and indeed the lives of ordinary people every day,” David Nussbaum, chief executive of the global watchdog group, said in an interview today in Brussels.

Political parties scored worst, with both Americans and Europeans ranking them as more corruption-prone than private businesses, the police, court system, military, tax authorities or media. Nussbaum called it „very worrying” that one in seven people in the US, Britain and continental Europe feel that their governments actually encourage underhand dealings rather than fighting them.

Cash-for-favors practices are most prevalent in Africa, where 36% said they or a family member paid a bribe in the past year. Only 7% in the Asia-Pacific region confessed to paying bribes, and 2% in the US and western Europe. Transparency International called for countries that have signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to boost spending on anti-corruption efforts and take stricter steps to ensure compliance at a Dec. 10-14 conference in Jordan. The survey of 60,000 people in 62 countries was carried out by Gallup International between June and September. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. (Bloomberg)