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Wrongdoing a Part of Corporate Culture, Survey Says

Corruption appears to be a part of corporate culture, suggest the findings of

As recent scandals at corporations like Peregrine Financial Group and MF Global have illustrated, the financial services sector isn't a flawless field. But while high-profile cases like these tend to focus on the CEO or

As recent scandals at corporations like Peregrine Financial Group and MF Global have illustrated, the financial services sector isn't a flawless field. But while high-profile cases like these tend to focus on the CEO or CFO, a recent report showed that malfeasance can extend throughout an entire organization.

The lawfirm of Labaton Sucharow, which specializes in whistleblower protection, found that one in four financial services workers in the United States and the United Kingdom feel that it is necessary to commit unethical or illegal acts to get ahead in their organization. Roughly the same amount also said they have personally witnessed, or have firsthand knowledge of, such acts - roughly one in six said they would willingly engage in insider trading if they felt they could get away with it, according to the report.

In many cases, the pressure to engage in questionable behavior stems from the corporate atmosphere itself. Nearly one-third of respondents said the way their compensation packages or bonus plans are structured creates an incentive to break the law. Only 30 percent said the potential for an SEC investigation is an effective deterrent.

"When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk," said Jordan Thomas, partner at Labaton Sucharow.

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