A blue ribbon council of international financial experts has identified 30 countries ranging from Argentina to Venezuela that have lost billions of dollars in potential foreign direct investment (FDI) because of corrupt business practices.

          The details of the council’s study were released in a report of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Study of Transparency and Sustainability at an international business conference held at the Carter Center in Atlanta recently.

          “We now have a realistic understanding of what the real return on investment may entail in each of the countries that were studied,” said Joel Krutzman, a partner in the international accounting and consulting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

          By losing at least $131 billion in foreign direct investment to countries with greater transparency, 30 out of 34 countries lost out on what Mr. Krutzman called “the virtuous circle of FDI,” including the development of skills through training, managerial and marketing know how and new technologies.

          The study looked at five factors – corruption, economic policy and legal, regulatory and accounting systems – to develop what it termed a “composite opacity score” for 34 countries involved.

          Brazil topped the list with at least $30 billion in lost FDI, followed by Argentina with $14 billion and South Korea with $9 billion.

          Japan, which scored low in corruption but higher in other areas, was estimated to have lost at least $6.5 billion in FDI.

          Chile, United Kingdom, United States and Singapore were considered to have the most transparent economies and experienced no loss in foreign direct investment, according to the study.

          The conference was a special program of the Carter Center Council for Ethical Business Practices, which was established in 1999.

          To learn more about the ongoing “opacity study,” go to www.opacityindex.com