Transparency International has said governments in many OECD nations have become less inclined to fight companies that use bribery to get contracts abroad. It cited budgetary reasons to be behind the backsliding.
The anti-corruption watchdog said in a fresh report Tuesday that government readiness to crack down on foreign corporate bribery had decreased alarmingly from last year's levels.
Transparency International found that 30 of the 40 developed countries that were signatories to the OECD's Anti-Bribery Convention were barely investigating or prosecuting any relevant cases, with the convention setting the gold standard for combating corruption in foreign contracting.
Transparency International said active enforcement programs were only in place in the US, Germany, Britain and Switzerland which together accounted for 26.2 percent of global exports.
Turning a blind eye
The watchdog saw a retreat from the situation a year earlier when seven countries had active anti-bribery schemes up and running, saying that Italy slipped into the moderate enforcement camp, while Norway and Denmark fell to unprecedented inactivity levels.
Those with no record of enforcement at all were Estonia, New Zealand, Greece, Israel, Chile, Mexico and Ireland and for the first time also Russia.
"The 40 nations, which represent more than two thirds of global exports, would make it very hard to get away with bribery, if they lived up to the requirements of the convention, the watchdog's Chair Huguette Labelle said in a statement.
The organization attributed the backsliding to budget cuts, a lack of expert knowledge of skill as to how to pursue cases and a failure to apply existing laws properly.