Business, Finance & Economics

The business of bribery

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was back at work today. He's out on bond after yesterday's arrest on corruption charges. Blagojevich is accused of conspiring to enrich himself by selling President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. Prosecutors say the governor was on a political corruption crime spree.

Player utilities

Listen to the Story.

Another kind of corruption that's in the news: The group Transparency International just released this year's Bribe Payers Index -- a report that examines how likely certain companies from leading exporting nations are to engage in bribery when doing business abroad.

Juanita Riano of Transparency International talks to "The World" from Berlin. She shares how the U.S. stands in the rankings of the Bribe Payers Index: "Well, out of the 22 countries ranked, [the] U.S. is number nine. It's tied with France, Singapore as the third in ninth place."

The top three on the list -- the most "honest" nations are Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands; and the bottom three are Russia, China and Mexico.

Riano says the reason Russia, China and Mexico are at the bottom of the list is: "Well it seems like when their companies operate abroad, they're quite likely to pay bribes to engage in daily business. However, I want to point attention to the fact that even though Belgium, Canada, [the] Netherlands and Switzerland are quite close at the top of the Index, this doesn't mean that their companies are corruption free."

According to Riano, the Index focuses more on the supply side of corruption rather than the demand side: "What we found is that corruption entails two parties -- those who pay the bribes and those who take the bribes. Usually blame is put on public officials from less-developed countries who are taking bribes. However, with the Bribe Payers Index, what we want to show is that companies behave differently when they operate in countries different to the one where they're home based. So they have double standards and we want to call attention to that."

The countries at the bottom of the Index are more likely to pay bribes; not that they are necessarily paying more bribes.

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

More "The World."