The dirty dozen

Published by The Daily Mail (15th April 2016)

Britain’s foreign aid budget keeps rising. Currently at £12 billion a year, it is due to soar during David Cameron’s two terms as Prime Minister, to £16 billion by 2020.

As the Mail revealed yesterday, Britain pays £1 in every £7 of aid donated by rich countries — three times as much per head as the U.S. — and much of it is being sent to the world’s most corrupt countries where despots line their own pockets and make life even worse for the poor.

Among the most egregious recent examples was South Africa, where — even as our Government gave the country £19 million a year to alleviate poverty — its president Jacob Zuma was spending £13 million of state funds improving his lavish home.

Ministers have stopped direct aid to South Africa since the outcry, but elsewhere the spending continues. Here, we present our guide to the 12 countries — the ‘dirty dozen’ — where British taxpayers’ money is most shockingly abused…


UK aid: £178m a year

Corruption league table ranking: 166 (Third most corrupt of 168 countries)

The Afghan economy is reliant on aid, yet even International Development Secretary Justine Greening admits theft is endemic.

One U.S. audit found no government ministry could be trusted to prevent funds being stolen or wasted, while the UK watchdog has condemned weak controls and anti-corruption measures.

Huge sums have been flown out of the country by corrupt politicians and businessmen — much of it made from drugs and some suspected of being siphoned off aid projects. At one point, more was leaving Afghanistan in cash than was being collected in taxes.

In 2009, a former vice president landed in Dubai with $52 million in cash, while government posts were said to be so lucrative they were sold. Investigations have linked family and associates of ex-president Hamid Karzai to a £90 million property empire.


UK aid: £189m a year

Ranking: joint 139

Anti-corruption group Transparency International calls politics in Bangladesh ‘a battle between established elites over state resources’, with health services riddled with extortion. Several of the country’s richest people are linked to politics, including Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the prime minister’s son, and Tarique Rahman, the British-based son of a previous president.

Rahman was cleared of money-laundering three years ago, alleging the accusations were politically motivated, though his business partner was found guilty of taking kickbacks. One MP, a member of the ruling family, increased his income 330-fold in five years.


UK aid: £183m a year

Ranking: 147

When Joseph Kabila took power in this war-torn nation aged 29 in 2001 after the murder of his father, he became the world’s youngest leader. Since then he is believed to have stashed away billions by flogging off Congo’s mineral wealth on the cheap in dodgy deals.

His twin sister’s holdings in a South Pacific tax haven were exposed by the Panama Papers leak. The president was accused of bribing MPs $100,000 each to back a law allowing him to circumvent restrictions over his term of office that would have ejected him out of office this year.


UK aid: £129m a year

Ranking: joint 139

Mega-rich President Uhuru Kenyatta, son of his nation’s first president, is from one of Kenya’s wealthiest families, with land holdings and business stakes worth £300 million.

He and his vice president used witness intimidation to evade crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court over election violence. Public services are notoriously corrupt. Kenyans pay up to 16 bribes a month to officials.


UK aid: £81m a year

Ranking: 130

Nepal has slipped down the corruption index, with one expert telling British MPs that politics there is ‘an extractive enterprise’ with absenteeism levels of 73 per cent in the health ministry.

Huge sums of aid were poured in to assist after last year’s earthquake, yet thousands of people remain in temporary shelters without water or electricity amid complaints of aid cash disappearing.


UK aid: £250m a year

Ranking: 136

Our aid to this West African nation doubled under the Coalition and keeps rising, despite corruption and even a space programme. It has some of the world’s highest-paid politicians, earning up to £1.4 million a year, more billionaires than Britain and is Africa’s biggest market for private planes, with annual sales of £1 billion.

When its central bank governor said £14 billion of oil revenues were missing, he was fired — while one state governor alone embezzled £50 million.


UK aid: £538m a year

Ranking: 117

Even the pro-aid select committee for international development complained of giving huge sums to a country where more than two-thirds of MPs do not bother filing tax returns. Corruption and tax evasion is estimated to cost Pakistan about £100 million a day. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s children were linked to £7 million offshore dealings for four Park Lane properties by the Panama Papers. The billionaire businessman sparked outrage over travel expenses — including 17 trips to Britain — averaging £132,000 a month.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari was known as ‘Mr Ten Percent’, allegedly amassing a billion-pound property portfolio including a Surrey mansion set in 350 acres.


UK aid: £72m a year

Ranking: n/a

Britain hands £25 million to the Palestinian Authority, which pays convicted terrorists and their families ‘salaries’ that rise depending on the seriousness of the terrorist crimes they commit. Corruption is rampant in the occupied territories, with claims that one minister stole £120 million and accusations that the terror outfit Hamas took millions from reconstruction aid after Israeli attacks.

President Mahmoud Abbas is finishing off a £9 million palace near Ramallah with helipads, two swimming pools and a whirlpool spa. He reportedly stayed in a £1,800-a-night New York hotel.


UK aid: £66m a year

Ranking: 44

This tiny central African nation has become an aid darling despite the bloodstained reputation of its iron man leader Paul Kagame and assassinations of rivals abroad.

The prickly president says corruption ‘kills a nation’. Yet he has two £30 million private jets (that have been lent to his friend Tony Blair) and a sprawling countryside estate.

When visiting New York he stayed in a swanky hotel costing £12,000 a night — a sum that would take the average Rwandan two decades to earn. Wife Jeannette is said to be the business brain in the household.


UK aid: £134m a year

Ranking: 163

Britain has been a big supporter of the world’s newest country, arguing aid will improve stability. Experts say aid fuels conflict and corruption.

South Sudan has been shattered by savage fighting over oil revenues, with economic collapse and state coffers heavily plundered.

In 2012, just one year after the nation’s birth, president Salva Kiir accused his own officials of stealing almost £3 billion.


UK aid: £92m a year

Ranking: joint 139

President Yoweri Museveni — who travels in a 40-vehicle motorcade — has won his fifth election amid reports of intimidation, bribery and ballot-box stuffing.

Seven years ago, given £70 million in UK aid, he bought himself a Gulfstream jet. Later it emerged he bought six Russian fighter jets at twice the market rate and without parliamentary approval — for three times the annual spending on Uganda’s health service.

Museveni often hands out cash at rallies, once giving a sack containing £66,000 to a youth group.


UK aid: £66m a year

Ranking: 150

The country is asking for £1 billion drought aid and its rulers claim to be Marxists, but those close to veteran president Robert Mugabe have plundered billions, largely from illicit diamond smuggling. One aide who died in suspicious circumstances was said to have left his wife £8 billion in his will.

The president’s wife, fighting rivals to succeed her ailing husband, is nicknamed ‘Gucci Grace’ due to her extravagant shopping trips to Singapore on which it is said she routinely takes $5 million in cash.

  • The Corruption League Table, devised by Transparency International, is a respected annual assessment of global public sectors.

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