Mark Pyman , Director of Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme, discusses contradictory research in the defence sector.
The new 2011 Bribe Payers Index (BPI) was published last week and throws up some interesting findings. Bribery seems to be prevalent in almost all sectors and there seems to be little improvements overall in controlling it since the last report in 2008.
The findings rank the “arms, defence and military” sector 10th out of a total of 19 sectors. On the face of it this actually seems like a very positive relative position compared with the relative rankings in the 2002 findings, which placed the military as the second most likely sector to take or receive corrupt payments after public works and construction.
However, there are two significant bits of evidence to the contrary. Recent research by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that corruption in the arms trade accounts for roughly 40% of corruption in all global transactions. In the ongoing conversations our defence programme has had with senior staff in defence companies, we hear that the request for bribes is as frequent as ever.
So, which is true? We don’t know. One possible explanation is that bribes are still being requested as often as before, but not being paid. Perhaps the best positioned to answer this question are the defence companies themselves. These findings offer the opportunity for an interesting discussion and perhaps to identify additional ways of answering this important question.