Corruption commonplace for contractors

Corruption is rife in the construction industry, with commonplace fraud, bribery and collusion common among firms,according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Building(CIOB). A spokesman for the organisation told B&E the problem lies in contractors’ perceptions of corruption, and what they see as standard construction practice.The survey of mostly construction managers found most thought issues like bribery and employing illegal workers were more serious than cover pricing.

The CIOB spokesman said:“How corrupt is cover pricing? Some people put it down to being a moderately corrupt activity, or not corrupt at all. Even though people know it’s not the most ethical way of going about corruption, they still let it go on. Employing illegal workers was seen as predominantly corrupt. Only 2% thought not, which is still quite worrying.”

Overall, 51% of respondents said corruption is common within the construction industry. However,only 12% said they called the police after they uncovered fraud or corruption in their company. Most people kept quiet when they came across corruption; 74% said they did not report it to the police.

The CIOB spokesman said employees may think twice about reporting corruption if they don’t think it is a serious issue. He said:“It can come down to the severity of the corruption. If it’s financially serious, perhaps they will report it to the police, but there’s a varying scale of corruption. We would like to see to people going to the authorities.There are varying degrees of corruption, but we’re saying you’re either corrupt or you’re not.”

Two-thirds of respondents said they have never come across cartels. The spokesman said the CIOB is considering looking further into the issue next year. He said:“That’s one of those questions we would like to drill down into. It could be people don’t see cartel activities as corruption, perhaps they see it as partnering.”

Most people in the survey thought the industry isn’t doing enough to tackle corruption. The

pokesman said: “We would probably get that response on most things. There’s a lot of legislation to tackle it already, and the Office of Fair Trading for example is doing a huge amount of work in the construction industry.”

He said the CIOB plans to raise the issue of corruption with the industry with more detailed research. The spokesman said:“There’s a lot that needs doing to eradicate corruption. We need to educate the industry about any grey areas, which people might notsee as corrupt activity.”

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