Rampant corruption in Austria

Around 10 per cent of Austrians bribed authorities last year and almost one in two believe corruption in the country is on the rise, according to a study.Transparency International (TI) announced yesterday (Thurs) every eleventh Austrian admitted having acted corruptly in bribing officials of various sectors of public life in 2009. The internationally operating non-government organisation (NGO) also found that 49 per cent of people living in Austria believe corruption is set to soar.The nine per cent of Austrians admitting corrupt actions stand in stark contrast to the European Union (EU) average of just five per cent. Denmark, Norway and Great Britain did best with bribe rates of zero to one per cent, while Lithuania (34 per cent) were found bottom lights in the EU.Afghanistan, Iraq and African countries found themselves at the end of TI’s global ranking topped by New Zealand and Singapore.The NGO interviewed more than 91,000 people in 86 countries all over the world for its survey.TI Austria head Franz Fiedler said today he was “worried” about developments in Austria. “I get the impression we don’t take the issue seriously,” he told the Kurier newspaper.The former Federal Audit Office (RH) president added: “I can’t be satisfied only because the amount of corruption is higher elsewhere.”Fiedler criticised small amounts of bribes were exchanging hands in Austria “with a wink”.The ex-RH boss also mentioned so-called envelope deals in the country’s healthcare system. This term describes the practice of bribing surgeons for earlier operation dates.Social Democratic (SPÖ) Health Minister Alois Stöger recently said he was outraged about “this disgrace” after hearing that undercover journalists revealed such illicit deals were common across Austria.