After several reports of corruption in countries receiving millions of pounds in British aid, the David Cameron government has set up a new unit involving Scotland Yard and the National Crime Agency, among other bodies, to investigate such cases.
British aid to India ceases this year, but millions of pounds earmarked as ‘technical assistance’ until 2019 have drawn much criticism at a time the country’s economy is growing.
There have been reports of corruption in delivering British aid in India, among other countries. Millions of pounds earmarked for education reportedly vanished in India in 2010 or were spent on items and luxuries.
Official sources said the new International Corruption Unit (ICU) will be operated by the National Crime Agency and be the central point for investigating international corruption in the UK.
Justine Greening, International Development secretary, said: “Corruption is not only picking the pockets of the poor, it is an enemy of prosperity and a brake on a country’s development. Through the international corruption unit, the best of British law enforcement will step up our aid work combating corruption head on across the developing world.”
Jon Benton, joint head of the ICU, said: “The message to individuals and companies who see developing countries as fair game is that the UK has zero tolerance for overseas bribery and corruption.”
Officials believe the combined intelligence and investigation approach would deliver a significant increase in money laundering and overseas bribery cases; a greater focus on preventive action; and a more strategic approach to tackling corruption.