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IMF Estimates Cost Of Bribes Globally At Up To $2 Trillion A Year

The amount of money paid worldwide in bribes each year is between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion, or about 2 percent of global economic output, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

"Corruption has a pernicious effect on the economy," leading to less spending on education, health care, and other services that are disproportionately needed by the poor, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on May 11 in an open letter published the day before the start of an anticorruption summit in London.

The enormous estimate of bribery's cost illustrates why such abuse of public office for private gain "undermines trust in government and erodes the ethical standards of private citizens," Lagarde added.

Beyond the direct cost of corruption and its drain on the global economy, "the indirect costs may be even more substantial and debilitating, leading to low growth and greater income inequality," she said.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa