Corruption in the arms trade
The arms trade is the most corrupt legal international trade in the world. The anti-corruption organisation Transparency International has estimated that the official arms trade “accounts for 50% of all corrupt international transactions” and that a conservative estimate of the level of arms deal commissions (the means by which bribes are generally made) is around 10% of the value of contracts.
Corruption is not just an add-on to the trade: it is central to it. Corruption gives decision makers an incentive to purchase weapons and thereby increases spending on arms. Arms deals provide the ideal conditions in which bribery can flourish: individual deals can be extremely large; it is a buyers' market; prices aren't easily compared because each contract has its own special requirements; and, vitally, they are cloaked in secrecy under the rhetoric of ‘national security’ (see Parallel Markets: Corruption in the International Arms Trade [pdf]).
Corruption is not a victimless crime. It hits the poorest people hardest and undermines economic development, it distorts markets, damaging trade and investment, and it has profound implications for national security.