This study looks at how the corporate governance of family-owned business groups, the most dominant form of private sector organising in Asia, deals with different forms of corruption during the course of common business transactions. As a part of an ethnographic study conducted in 2007 to look at the impact of corporate governance reforms in the Philippines, one of the emergent themes from the study was the presence of significant corruption in the business environment of the country. A total of 40 semi-structured interviews were conducted with board members from business groups and senior public sector officials supplemented by document analysis of media articles and other text and participant observation. Using Rose-Ackerman's typology of petty and grand corruption, results show the dilemmas faced when trying to operate within the precepts of corporate governance whilst dealing with the practical reality of corruption in public sector institutions. The results of the study provide empirical evidence into corruption's impact on Asian business groups and contribute to knowledge on the links between strong institutions and the efficacy of corporate governance.