Transparency International, a globally known non-governmental organisation, released its second annual report on the state of corruption around the world, containing 16 regional reports.

The “Global Corruption Report 2003”:

* highlights the role of the media in the fight against corruption;
underlines the importance of access to government-held information;
* calls on regulators to require companies to declare taxes and royalties paid to the governments where they operate;
* reveals that companies from leading industrial countries are seen as slightly less likely to bribe than before.

The report takes note of the new British law that renders illegal not only the bribery of foreign government officials in line with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, but also the so-called facilitation payments that are small payments aiming to make access easier to routine government services. The German parliament’s upper house has held up twice a measure presented by the federal government in April 2002, on the creation of a Register of Unreliable Companies that would list companies caught paying bribes or otherwise engaging in corrupt activity. Italy passed a new law in late 2001 that severely impedes the work of investigative judges.

As regards the countries that are candidates for EU membership, Hungary introduced mandatory asset statements for all public sector employees and adopted a law on corporate criminal liability in 2001. The Czech Republic and Slovakia adopted civil service laws that made property disclosures compulsory for civil servants, in March 2002. In addition, these two countries also adopted new laws on independent intra-governmental audit units in 2001. Accusations of corruption emerged over the privatisation of the Lithuanian oil company and Polish ambulance service employees who received payments for information about the death of patients.