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In 2016, Transparency International – Ukraine and Transparency International – Defence & Security created the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO). A year ago, NAKO became an independent NGO.

As NAKO moves through the transition toward effective governance and full operational autonomy, we  wish to thank all those who have contributed to its and our work so far. In particular, our thanks go to the NAKO Committee members: Drago Kos, Yulia Marushevska, Volodymyr Ogrysko, Oleh Rybachuk, James Wasserstrom and Michel Yakovleff, as well as previous Committee members – Timothy Evans and Sevgil Musaeva.

Director of Transparency International Defence and Security, Steve Francis, said:

“We thank the committee members for their insight and commitment. They have been key to the progress NAKO has made since it was set up three years ago in working towards building integrity, transparency and accountability in the defence sector in Ukraine.”

We look forward to continue working with NAKO as a strategic partner in Ukraine, and to support its efforts to combat corruption in the Ukrainian defence sector, thereby increasing the effectiveness of defence spending, improving living conditions of defence personnel and ensuring Ukraine’s defence forces provide state and human security.

27 November, London – A court ruling this week that paves the way for civil society in Nigeria to challenge senior politicians over their secretive spending of billions of Nigerian Naira has been praised by Transparency International.

Transparency International and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) in Nigeria have previously called for the scrapping of the unaccountable and secretive “security vote” spending – one of the most durable forms of corruption in Nigeria—saying that they fail to provide real security for citizens.

The security votes issue was explored in a joint report by the groups in May 2018. Camouflaged Cash estimates that security votes in Nigeria total around $670 million annually – more than the annual budget of the Nigerian Army.

Responding to the court decision, Steve Francis OBE, Director of Transparency International’s Defence & Security Programme said:

“This is an important moment in the campaign for transparency in defence and security spending in Nigeria, as well as government accountability more generally. Civil society in Nigeria, including Transparency International’s colleagues in CISLAC, deserve praise for successfully challenging in the courts the government’s refusal to explain how billions of Nigerian Naira were spent over the last twenty years. We see this as another important step in bringing about more openness and accountability in how the country spends taxpayer money on its citizens’ security and defence.”



Harvey Gavin

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25 November, London – Security and stability across the Middle East and North Africa continues to be undermined by the risk of corruption in defence institutions, according to new research by Transparency International – Defence & Security.

11 of the 12 Middle East and North Africa states assessed in the 2020 Government Defence Integrity Index released today received E or F grades, indicating either a “very high” or “critical” risk of defence corruption. Only Tunisia performed better, scoring a D.

These findings come against a backdrop of insecurity and fragility in the region. Mass protests – driven by grievances including corruption and financial mismanagement by government – continue in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. Meanwhile protracted armed conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya show no sign of ending.

Steve Francis OBE, Director of Transparency International – Defence & Security, said:

The Middle East and North Africa remains one of the most conflict-riven regions in the world and this instability has a major impact on international security. While some states have made some improvements in their anti-corruption safeguards, the overall picture is one of stagnation and in some cases regression. Given the empirical link between corruption and insecurity, these results make worrying reading.

Military institutions across the region continue to conduct much of their business under a shroud of secrecy and away from even the most basic public scrutiny or legislative oversight. This lack of accountability fuels mistrust in security services and governments, which in turn feeds instability.

With the regional picture looking bleak, tools like our Government Defence Integrity Index are more important than ever. By highlighting areas where safeguards against corruption are weak or non-existent, campaigners on the ground and reform minded military leaders and politicians can use these results to push for real change. Taking action to improve transparency and close loopholes which allow corruption to thrive would improve public trust and bolster national security.

Defence sectors across the region continue to suffer from excessive secrecy, and a lack of oversight and transparency, the research found. Meanwhile, defence spending in the region continues to surge to record levels.

The countries with defence sectors at a ‘critical’ risk of corruption are Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as there is virtually no accountability or transparency of defence and security institutions. Many of these countries are either major arms importers or benefit from significant international military aid.

In Lebanon, a lack of clear independent auditing mechanisms and gaps between anti-corruption laws adopted in the last two years and their implementation contributed to the country’s “very high” risk status, despite the Lebanese Armed Forces demonstrating high levels of integrity and a willingness to remain neutral and avoid using excessive against protesters.

Tunisia was the only country in the region to rank higher, with new whistleblower protections, improved oversight and public commitments to promoting integrity in the armed forces contributing to its score. But the continued use of counter-terrorism justifications combined with an ingrained culture of secrecy within the defence sector prevented Tunisia from scoring higher.


Country Risk banding
Tunisia High risk
Lebanon Very high risk
Algeria Critical risk
Saudi Arabia


Notes to editors:

The full, country-specific Government Defence Integrity Index (GDI) results for the Middle East and North Africa will be available here

The GDI assesses the existence, effectiveness and enforcement of institutional and informal controls to manage the risk of corruption in defence and security institutions.

Our team of experts draws together evidence from a wide variety of sources and interviewees across 77 indicators to provide a detailed assessment of the integrity of national defence institutions, and awards a score for each country from A to F.

The GDI was previously known as the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI). The Index underwent a major update for the 2020 version, including changes to the methodology and scoring underpinning the project. This means overall country scores from this 2020 version cannot be accurately compared with country scores from previous iterations of the Index.

Subsequent GDI results will be released in 2020, covering Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, G-20 countries, the Asia Pacific region, East and Southern Africa, and NATO+.



Harvey Gavin
+44 (0)20 3096 7695
++44 (0)79 6456 0340


Mallary Gelb
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++44 (0)79 6456 0340

November 19, London – Corruption is being harnessed by authoritarian regimes as a foreign policy tool, research by Transparency International – Defence & Security warns – and the West could be at risk unless action is taken to address vulnerabilities in key institutions.

Corrupt practices like bribery and embezzlement of public funds have traditionally been viewed as a means of personal enrichment for individuals and networks, but new research published today reveals how policymakers have overlooked a key issue: corruption can be weaponised to achieve foreign policy goals and could potentially become a tool of hybrid warfare.

Corruption as Statecraft details how ‘corruption with intent’ schemes have already been used as part of the foreign policy arsenal of authoritarian states like Russia. They are often based on a dependence in a strategic sector, such as energy exports or infrastructure investments.

Those dependencies, based on a real need and combined with opaque governance and economic arrangements, can enable cross-border schemes where money is funnelled to decision makers in one country with a view to ensuring foreign policy decisions favourable to another country.

Dr Karolina MacLachlan, Regional Programme Manager for Transparency International – Defence and Security, said:

“Typically practices like bribery, money laundering and embezzlement of state funds are used by a corrupt elite for economic gain, but ‘corruption with intent’ schemes are far more insidious. These strategies are not aimed at making money, but are instead focussed on corrupting decision makers and public institutions in other countries in the pursuit of foreign policy goals.

“The damage corruption causes to individuals, communities and entire countries is well documented – and the poorest in society are inevitably left to suffer the brunt of the impact. This indiscriminate ‘collateral damage’ is what needs to make policy makes pay attention.”

Corruption as a tool of foreign policy can be deployed anywhere there is opaque company and government contracting structures, bribery, lack of oversight, and loopholes in key regulations. This means Europe and the United States are both at risk.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has already been targeted by a corruption with intent scheme – and its ethics watchdog initially failed to stop it. The European Parliament, unable to fully account for MEPs’ external employment and outside income, is also at risk.

Dr Karolina MacLachlan said:

“While it would be tempting to assume that this weaponising of corruption is only a threat to emerging democracies such as Ukraine or Armenia, our research also highlights a vulnerability at the heart of the Europe Union which malign actors have already exploited – and others that can be exploited in the future.

“Worryingly, there are vulnerabilities in European energy trade and infrastructure investment carried out as part of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative. Large-sale commitments made by a number of countries, alongside limited transparency in international contracts and with legal loopholes, limit countries’ room for manoeuvre and open them up to external pressures and corrupt schemes.

“Despite the warning signs, there is still time for policymakers to address these chinks in the armour. The link between corruption with intent and strategic dependence means that European countries and the US not only need to pay far more attention to their own vulnerabilities and treat corruption as the strategic threat it can be, but also reconsider how they can help other countries fight corruption. Anti-corruption programmes need to be joined with wider political and economic considerations to manage the dependence that corruption schemes can be based on.”

How ‘corruption with intent’ schemes can work:

  1. There is a real or perceived need: infrastructure investment, energy, arms imports
  2. The need is met by an entity from another country (government, state-owned enterprise, a private company linked to government)
  3. The contracting and mode of implementation of the project(s) are opaque, involve intermediaries, are based on unfavourable terms, and create dependence. They are facilitated by local loopholes
  4. Opacity is used to funnel money to elites in the recipient country to secure favourable foreign policy outcomes



Harvey Gavin
+44 (0)20 3096 7695
+44 (0)79 6456 0340