Multi-national corporations colluding with corrupt officials are shielded by a lack of transparency, a new report says. These unscrupulous practices are exacerbating poverty, the document adds.
A report by Berlin-based Transparency International released Monday found that three quarters of the 100 fastest-growing companies based in 15 emerging market countries and active in 185 countries scored poorly in transparency tests.
The report's findings highlight the urgent need for big multinationals to do more to fight corruption, TI said.
"Pathetic levels of transparency in big emerging market companies raises the question of just how much the private sector cares about stopping corruption, stopping poverty where they do business and reducing inequality," José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International, said in a statement.
The study found Chinese companies scored the worst due to having weak or non-existent anti-corruption policies and procedures. India led the way, with all 19 of its companies in the study achieving a score of 75 percent or more in being open about their company structures and holdings, which was attributed to the country's strong legislation.
The report covered 100 companies in 15 emerging market countries which also included Brazil, Mexico and Russia. The overall score slipped since the last Transparency In Corporate Reporting survey in 2013, falling a fraction to 3.4 out of 10, with three quarters of companies scoring less than half.
The study took into account three different ways in which companies can address corruption. They include the reporting of anti-corruption programs such as policies to ban bribes or "facilitation payments," the disclosure of company structures and holdings, and the disclosure of key financial information for each individual country in which they operate, such as tax payments.
Researchers said this information was gathered from corporate websites and other publicly available sources.