A new study says that not only is corruption not inhibited in many big businesses, it is actually a central strategy.

A report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) it is not just rogue staff, as executives and boards often know payments are passing under the table.

The OECD's new Foreign Bribery Report says around 60 per cent of bribes are paid by large corporations, management level employees paid or authorised bribes in about 41 per cent of case, and a CEO was involved 12 per cent of the time.

It found most bribes were paid to win contracts from state-owned or controlled companies in four key industries; mining, construction, transportation, and information and communication – in that order.

The study also debunks the idea that bribes to win contracts are rife primarily in the developing world.

The OECD found that bribery is a big business staple in advanced economies as well, conducted by companies in the United States, Britain, Germany and France despite their often strict anti-bribery laws.

China, Russia, India, Korea, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East and Africa are called-out for their endemic bribery issues too.

Australia avoids specific mention in the report, but it did find that bribery and corruption hotspots exist in the same places Australian business and government agencies make deals and do business, making it hard to imagine that local groups do not take part.

Allegations of such conduct in the sale of Australian-owned banknote technology shows there is plenty of room for dodgy behaviour. 

The OECD probed over 427 cases worldwide to determine that the average bribe was around $US13.8 million, or 11 per cent of the total transaction value and 35 per cent of profits.

The stats showed heads of state or ministers often have their noses in the trough; bribed in 5 per cent of cases but managing to gouge a solid 11 per cent of total bribes.

Ultimately, the study found companies usually became aware of corrupt practice through regular checks and balances - internal audits, due diligence, other independent investigations, and less frequently – whistleblowers.