The world is filled with sticky fingers. Transparency International (TI) , a Berlin-based body that fights bribery, rates China -- with a special slap on the wrist for Hong Kong -- as the base where companies are most likely to pay off foreign governments in order to win business contracts. TI listed Taiwan, South Korea, Italy, and Malaysia as the other top offenders. TI reckons its trickery ratings from input by 800 executives who have contributed to its "Bribe Payers Perception Index." Soul-searching could be inspired by the news that firms in the U.S., where bribery overseas is outlawed, are just as likely to resort to pay-offs abroad as their competitors in Germany. The two countries share 10th place in the chart (6: Japan; 7: France; 8: Spain; 9: Singapore). Best marks for honest dealing go to Sweden, ranked 20th.