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Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
The market doesn’t always decide.

One in three senior managers would offer a bribe to win or retain new business

By Lily Kuo

More than half of business professionals around the world say corruption is widespread in their industries and even more are willing to justify it, according to a new survey on fraud conducted across Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa.

The survey by the professional services firm EY found that 51% of more than 4,000 respondents across 41 countries said bribery and corrupt practices were common in their country. And 77% of board directors and senior managers surveyed were willing to justify such behavior to help their businesses survive. One in three were willing to offer cash payments to win or retain business.

In Africa, that figure was higher, with 77% of those polled reporting corruption in their sectors. Kenya ranked the highest in Africa, ahead of South Africa and Nigeria, and sixth globally.

Kenya regularly tops lists of the world’s most corrupt countries. Money destined for infrastructure, public services, and even its Olympic team have all gone missing. The country’s auditor general said in 2015 that only a quarter of the government’s 450 billion shilling ($4.35 billion) budget could be accounted for. In the private sector, cases of fraud, bribery, and nepotism are common.

Kenya’s next generation of business leaders may be even more accepting of corruption. Almost two thirds of respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 believed unethical behavior for the sake of one’s business interests was acceptable. Only 49% of those between the ages of 45 and 54 agreed.

“With 73% of respondents from Generation Y holding the view that unethical action can be justified to help a business survive, it is imperative to pay attention to this younger generation, since they are the future of businesses,” says Dennis Muchiri, leader of fraud investigation and dispute services at EY in East Africa.

Here’s the breakdown of what percentage of respondents said corruption is widespread, by country:

Country % respondents who believe corruption is widespread in their country
Ukraine 88
Cyprus 82
Greece 81
Slovakia 81
Croatia 79
Kenya 79
South Africa 79
Hungary 78
India 78
Egypt 75
Slovenia 74
Nigeria 73
Italy 71
Bulgaria 68
Turkey 67
Russia 66
Spain 64
Czech Republic 63
Portugal 60
Serbia 57
Jordan 53
Latvia 51
Ireland 47
Lithuania 47
Germany 43
Saudi Arabia 43
Poland 38
Belgium 36
Austria 32
Estonia 32
Romania 31
France 28
UAE 27
UK 25
Netherlands 23
Oman 19
Sweden 18
Switzerland 18
Finland 16
Norway 10
Denmark 6