Police are the biggest culprits when it comes to demanding bribes in Mexico, a study on corruption says.
The questionnaire and analysis, conducted by the U.S.-based BRIBEline, found that 85 percent of bribe demands came from people associated with Mexico's government. Forty-five percent of total demands came from police, 12 percent from federal government officials and the rest from local officials, the judiciary, the military, or ruling party officials.
Published Thursday, the Mexico analysis was based on 151 reports received from July 2007 to January 2010.
"The rate of extortion demands in Mexico is very high, and the level of police extortion is high," said Alexandra Wrage, president of the nonprofit association TRACE International that set up BRIBELINE and helps companies combat bribery. "This is sort of frightening."
The BRIBEline Web site, available in 21 languages, was set up in 2007 and allows people around the world to anonymously report bribe requests, using a multiple choice questionnaire. The goal is to study bribe patterns in countries around the world.
Almost 50 percent of Mexican respondents said extortion was the purpose of bribe demands, including payment to avoid harm to personal or commercial interests. Less than 30 percent said they were asked to pay bribes to get preferential treatments, such as winning business contracts.
BRIBEline does not measure how widespread bribery is in any country, but other studies have said it is pervasive in Mexico.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has acknowledged that police corruption is entrenched. Since he took office in late 2006, thousands of police officers have been arrested or fired for corruption, including ties to drug cartels and other criminal gangs.
About 65 percent of the bribe requests in Mexico were for less than $5,000. Wrage said that would make it difficult for a company to track how much money it loses to bribes.
More than 60 percent of Mexican respondents said they were asked to pay the same bribe repeatedly over the course of a year.
Mexico's Interior and Public Safety departments did not respond to requests for comments on the report.
On the Net:
TRACE International: http://www.traceinternational.org
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