A survey of European in-house legal chiefs has revealed that nearly half are most worried about bribery and corruption.
The 2008 Corporate Integrity Survey questioned more than 100 heads of legal and compliance at major European companies.
Bribery topped the list of the risk areas for 2007, with 48 per cent of participants rating it as one of the most important concerns.
Paul Basson, European head of Integrity Interactive, which carried out the survey, described the results of the survey as “a cry for help”, adding: “The belief is that the European regulatory authorities are too lenient.”
Sharing the top spot in the survey was establishing an ethical culture. Competition and unfair selling practices fell from the top risk area in 2007 to fourth this year.
Adidas general counsel Frank Dassler, who took part in the survey, said European companies were most likely to encounter bribery and corruption issues while operating in developing countries.
He added: “Criminal activity is something you can’t avoid – you can only control it. As long as the industry isn’t able to install international control mechanisms, ;we ;still haven’t faced the problem.”
Basson said bribery had risen to the top of the agenda on the back of high-profile scandals involving German telecoms giant Siemens and BAE Systems in 2007.
The findings come as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) begins its probe into the UK Government over its failure to comply with international anti-corruption protocols. It will investigate why the UK has not mounted a single successful ;corruption prosecution in the past 10 years.
More than half of those surveyed wanted tighter regulations and a European version of the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines.