LONDON — Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt have been ranked among the countries most susceptible to defense sector corruption, according to a report published Jan. 29 by a leading U.K. nongovernmental organization.
The Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index released by Transparency International UK says that 70 percent of the countries investigated lacked adequate means to prevent corruption.
Of the 82 countries studied, only Australia and Germany were classified as very low risk.
Global corruption in the defense sector costs a minimum of $20 billion a year, said Transparency International.
Despite international efforts to crack down on corruption in recent years, cases alleging bribery in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the Czech Republic, Russia, South Africa and elsewhere continue to hit the headlines.
“Corruption in defense is dangerous, divisive and wasteful and the cost is paid by citizens, soldiers, companies and governments. Yet the majority of governments do too little to prevent it, leaving numerous opportunities to hide corruption away from public scrutiny,” said Mark Pyman, the director of Transparency International UK’s defense and security program.
Fifty-eight of the 82 countries covered in the report were classified as high risk or worse as a result of poor anti-corruption mechanisms available to governments and others.
The report scored countries using 77 indicators across five main risk areas covering politics, finance, personnel, operations and procurement. The countries were then ranked across seven bands ranging from very low risk to critical risk.
High risk countries include India, Singapore and the UAE, while the very high risk category covered nations such as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Qatar.
Transparency International named Algeria, Angola, Egypt and Yemen among nine countries on the critical risk list.
The nongovernmental organization, which monitors and campaigns against political and corporate corruption, ranked the U.K. and the U.S. as low risk while France and Italy managed a moderate risk ranking.
Oliver Cover, the principal author of the study, said the “index shows unequivocally that there is a severe risk of corruption in this sector. It is a shock that in some areas it is so poorly understood, for example in conflict situations, where corruption can become deeply embedded.”
Only 15 percent of governments assessed possess political oversight of defense policy that is comprehensive, accountable and effective. In 45 percent of countries there is little or no oversight of defense policy, and in half of the nations there is minimal evidence of scrutiny of defense procurement, Transparency International said in a statement.
It’s the first time the organization has published an index of global government anti-corruption measures.
Late last year, it published a similar exercise covering the anti-corruption performance of 129 of the world’s top defense companies.