Investors perceive corruption as a significant obstacle to doing business in Latin America and doubt the effectiveness of the anti-graft measures that have been introduced, a survey reveals. The 2012 Latin America Corruption Survey was prepared by international law firms Miller & Chevalier and Matteson Ellis, and was completed by 439 respondents based in 14 South and Central American countries.

Half of the respondents claim that they have lost business to competitors making illicit payments, while only 28% perceive existing anti-corruption laws as sufficient. Chile was seen as the country with the most effective legal protection against graft, while Paraguay and Guatemala were considered to have the worst legal protection.

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Multinational companies operating in the region say that they tackle the problem by introducing internal anti-graft procedures. Among companies publicly listed in the US, 90% have introduced rules on gifts, travel and entertainment for officials, 63% rules on charitable donations and 64% employ full-time compliance personnel.

“Companies understand the potentially high cost of corruption and are investing in education and other tools to protect their reputation, their employees and their bottom line," said James Tillen, Miller & Chevalier FCPA and international anti-corruption practice group coordinator, in a statement after the survey was published.