Berlin: When it comes to companies bribing public officials while doing business overseas, India's score has improved the most in a global index, rights group Transparency International said on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, India continues to be ranked near the bottom of the global Bribe Payers Index, as there was a high likelihood of Indian companies paying bribes abroad.

In a list of 28 countries, India has been ranked 19th, while China and Russia were fared the worst, at 27th and 28th positions, respectively.

The index was based on a survey of 3,000 business executives from developed and developing countries, the anti- corruption group said in a report.

The countries were evaluated on a scale of 0-10 points, with the maximum 10 points corresponding to the view that companies from that country never indulged in bribery abroad and a zero score being equivalent to these companies having always paid bribes.

India's score improved to 7.5 points, up by 0.7 points since the last survey in 2008.

This was the maximum improvement for any country, but India "still remains near the bottom of the table," Transparency International said.

It added that the leaders of G-20 nations, during their meeting at Cannes, were expected to recognise the steps taken by countries like India to tackle foreign bribery.

India's score was below the global average of 7.8 points.

In this year's list, the Netherlands and Switzerland have been ranked together on top with 8.8 points each – indicating that companies from these countries were the least likely to pay a bribe while doing business abroad.

On the other hand, Russia was ranked the worst, with a score of 6.1 points, while China was a notch higher at 27th position, with 6.5 points.

"Bribing public officials when doing business abroad is a regular occurrence," Transparency International said.

"Companies from Russia and China, who invested USD 120 billion overseas in 2010, are seen as most likely to pay bribes abroad. Companies from the Netherlands and Switzerland are seen as least likely to bribe," it added.

Those ranked below India include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, the UAE, Indonesia and Mexico.

On the top of the list, the Netherlands and Switzerland were followed by Belgium, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Singapore, the UK and the US.

Canada and the United Kingdom saw the most significant deterioration in their scores and their country rankings fell by five and three places, respectively.

Canada and Belgium were together ranked at the top of the previous list in 2008.

The 2008 survey comprised 22 countries and ranked India at 19th place with a score 6.8 points.

Transparency International said that addressing foreign bribery was a priority issue for the international community and urged the leaders of G-20 nations to tackle the issue as a matter of urgency.

The group of 20 leading economies (G-20) last year had committed to tackling foreign bribery by launching an anti-corruption action plan.

"The progress report of the working group monitoring the action plan, which G-20 leaders are expected to approve at tomorrow's Cannes summit, will recognise steps taken by G-20 countries China, Russia, Indonesia and India in criminalizing foreign bribery," it said.

(Agencies)