Defence sector corruption rife, new survey claims

Soldier from DR Congo (file image) Many countries lack basic controls to enable accountability, the survey says

A new global survey suggests that 70% of countries lack the tools to prevent corruption in the defence sector.

Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said that only Germany and Australia had strong overall anti-corruption mechanisms in place for defence.

The group estimates the global cost of corruption in the defence sector to be a minimum of $20bn (£13bn) a year.

It describes this situation as dangerous, divisive and wasteful.

The new index analyses what 82 countries do to reduce the risk of corruption in defence.

Of those surveyed, Transparency International (TI) says nine - Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Syria, and Yemen - were at the highest risk as a result of poor accountability and the lack of basic controls.

Germany and Australia were the only two countries deemed to be at very low risk of corruption.

The UK and the US came in the second band, along with five others, meaning their corruption risk was judged to be low.

Director of TI UK's Defence and Security Programme Mark Pyman said: "It's interesting that 50% of all these countries... either don't publish a defence budget at all or they publish it in such an aggregate level, like one line, that it is meaningless for any form of analysis.

"A lot of these are democracies as well, from whom you would expect better. Seventy per cent of the countries are in the bottom three bands. That's pretty miserable."

According to the index, only 15% of the governments surveyed possess political oversight of defence policy that is comprehensive, accountable, and effective.

Just under half showed little or no oversight of defence policy, or minimal evidence of any scrutiny of defence procurement.

TI is calling on governments to make what it calls a traditionally secretive sector more open, and increase the public's access to information about defence budgets and procurement.

It also says that law-makers should have stronger controls and oversight, and the tools with which to cut down corruption.

The study concludes that putting stronger measures in place would save the lives of soldiers and civilians - as well as billions of dollars for governments.

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