The anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International has admonished Chinese companies for their opaque business practices while praising relatively high standards of Indian firms, specially Tata Group firms, in a survey of emerging market multinationals released on Thursday.
China got the lowest rating of the BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), whose companies made up three quarters of the total sample in the survey of 100 of the fastest-growing multinationals in 16 emerging economies.
Marked on how transparently they present measures to combat corruption, how they report on their organisations and how they disclose data like revenue, expenditure and taxes, three quarters of the companies scored less than five out of 10.
"As emerging market companies expand their influence they should seize the opportunity to play a bigger role stopping corruption internationally," said Huguette Labelle, head of the Berlin-based independent pressure group.
Widespread shortcomings included the failure of about 60 per cent of all the companies surveyed to disclose information about their political contributions.
"Results show that companies from China lag behind in every dimension with an overall score of 20 per cent," Transparency said in the report. "Considering their growing influence in markets around the world, this poor performance is of concern."
Eight of the 10 worst-performing companies were Chinese, such as state-owned Chery Automobile Co Ltd, which along with Mexico's privately-owned consumer goods group Mabe scored zero points.
Wang Wei, a spokesman for Chery, said that he had never heard of Transparency International and was never contacted by the organisation.
"Chery is not publicly traded, so naturally it is not as transparent as those listed companies," Wang said, noting that the automaker does publish quarterly and annual results to its bond investors.
Mabe did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"In contrast, Indian firms perform best in the BRICS with a result of 54 per cent and several occupy the top positions in the overall index," said Transparency, attributing this to laws in India about how multinationals must report on subsidiaries.
Top of the class overall came India's Tata Communications Ltd, which also topped the anti-corruption programmes category with 92 per cent, followed by three more Tata companies.
A Tata Communications representative was not immediately able to comment.
Transparency International said public disclosure of anti-bribery measures "confirms a company's commitment to ethical conduct" and made it easier for the public to monitor them.
Emirates Airline, which is state-owned, came first in the category for organisational transparency, followed by Johnson Electric