How much Australian aid is privatised and hidden?

This is a good story in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that outlines the gross waste of Australian aid across the world. Accountability is the least we can expect. What needs to be further examined – something I’m researching – is which private companies here and overseas are scamming the system:

Australia’s $4.5 billion foreign aid program is plagued by record levels of fraud, with millions of dollars being stolen by corrupt officials and overseas agencies.

AusAID has 175 cases of fraud under investigation – stretching across 27 countries and totalling millions of dollars.

Documents released under Freedom of Information expose a criminal trail in some of the world’s poorest countries, with widespread theft of money and forging of receipts.

They also show how food and other supplies are being diverted from dirt-poor communities and sold on the black market at inflated prices.

While AusAID insists it is improving fraud control, the documents also reveal police are often reluctant to intervene and charge local criminals – frustrating the agency’s attempts to recover missing aid money.

In one extraordinary case, the Eritrean Government in 2006 seized food and other supplies from the UN’s World Food Program, saddling Australian taxpayers with a probable loss of $1.25 million.

The revelations will do little to boost public confidence in a foreign aid program that is forecast to nearly double to $8 billion a year by 2015.

PNG [Papua New Guinea] emerged as corruption central with 71 cases of identified fraud – 40 per cent of the AusAID total – involving millions in missing funds.

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