The highest bribe in a single scheme over the past 14 years was $1.4 billion (£891 million), according to an OECD report.
The OECD Foreign Bribery Report has analysed all concluded bribery cases by signatories to the convention between 1999 and June 2014, covering 427 cases since the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention came into force.
Over that period, the smallest bribe recorded was $13.17 (£8.38), while a total of $3.1 billion (£1.97 billion) in bribes was paid over the whole period, in the 224 cases for which figures were available.
“Given the very complex and concealed nature of corrupt transactions, it is without doubt the mere tip of the iceberg,” said the report.
The report shows that the biggest proportion of cases, 57 per cent, involved payments to obtain public procurement contracts, followed by bribes for customs clearance (12 per cent).
‘The high number of cases in which bribes were paid in the context of public procurement reinforces the need for greater integrity in public procurement processes,” said the report.
“Raising the overall awareness of procurement officials through tailored training and providing them with tools to prevent, detect and to address corporate crimes such as corruption, collusion and money laundering should be a government priority.”
The report shows an average of 10.9 per cent of the value of a contract was paid in bribes, and the industries most sanctioned for corruption were extractive (19 per cent), construction (15 per cent) and transport and storage (15 per cent).
Some 41 per cent of bribes were paid to management, while 12 per cent went to the president or CEO.
The most commonly bribed people were officials at state-owned enterprises, followed by customs officers. Heads of state and ministers represented 5 per cent of bribe-takers but received 11 per cent of total payments. “This could confirm a preconceived notion that the more powerful the official, the more s/he receives in bribes,” said the report.
Over the period a total of 80 people were jailed for bribery and the amount of monetary sanctions imposed totalled $5.4 billion (£3.43 billion). The highest amount forfeited by an individual was $149 million (£94.8 million) and the highest sanction in a single case was around €1.8 billion (£1.43 billion).