Nigérien officials skim US$137 million off US-subsidised arms deals

Shell companies played a central role in enabling the West African nation of Niger to enter into arms deals subsidised by the US that totalled about US$1 billion between 2011 and 2019.

But almost a third of that money was funnelled into inflated international arms deals – seemingly designed to allow corrupt officials and brokers to siphon off government funds, according to a confidential government audit obtained by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Problems identified

Inspection Générale des Armées (IGA), an independent Nigérien body that audits the armed forces, found problems with contracts amounting to over US$320 million out of the US$875 million in military spending between 2011 and 2019 that it reviewed. The US contributed almost US$240 million to Niger’s military budget over the same period according to OCCRP.

It says the IGA’s auditors said more than 76 billion West African francs (US$137 million) had been lost to corruption.

Overpriced and uncompetitive

The auditors also discovered that much of the equipment sourced from international firms – including Russian, Ukrainian, and Chinese state-owned defence companies – was significantly overpriced, not actually delivered, or purchased without going through a competitive bidding process.

The OCCRP says Nigerien authorities are investigating the findings of the audit, which have caused a scandal in the country after some details were reported in the press earlier this year.

The full OCCRP report, How a Notorious Arms Dealer Hijacked Niger’s Budget and Bought Weapons From Russia, can be found here.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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