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Sanctions on former Afghan officials highlight corruption’s threat to security

19th December 2023

December 19, 2023 – Transparency International Defence & Security welcomes the action taken in sanctioning two former Afghan officials for ‘widespread involvement in international corruption’. This move is an important step in acknowledging and addressing the impacts that corrupt practices in the defence and security sectors have on both national and international security.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently announced that the US Treasury Department had sanctioned two individuals for corruption during 2014 to 2019 that included theft of fuel intended for the prior Afghan government’s security forces.

SIGAR said this theft denied coalition and Afghan forces of a vital resource and only made the Taliban stronger.

This corruption took place at a time when national and international efforts were supposed to be focussed on building the Afghan forces to make them more able to provide effective security. Instead, initiatives to reform and rebuild the security sector took place without the necessary focus on anti-corruption.


Josie Stewart, Director of Transparency International Defence & Security, said:

“These welcome sanctions underscore a stark reality: corruption in the defence sector is not just about theft of resources, but a direct threat to national and global security. Authorities in the United States deserve congratulations for their work in blocking these individuals from accessing the proceeds of their corruption.

“The theft of vital resources like fuel can strengthen adversaries such as the Taliban while simultaneously weakening the security forces tasked with keeping citizens safe.  

“This case should highlight vividly why it’s time for more countries to step up and work towards ending the grave impact of corruption on global peace and security.

“Rather than addressing the issue after it has already had chance to take root, the international community must work urgently on strengthening defence and security institutions against the threat of corruption before its corrosive effects can set in.”


Notes to editors:

This case study by Transparency International Defence & Security highlights how rampant corruption – from seemingly petty offences to grand-scale corruption– affected all levels of the Afghan government during the initial US and subsequent International Security Assistance Force operations in the country.

A 2022 report by the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact into Britain’s £3.5bn aid to Afghanistan between 2000 and 2020 concluded that “channelling funding in such high volumes through weak state institutions distorted the political process and contributed to entrenched corruption.”