Dutch auditors claim NATO member states – which contribute to the organization’s budget from a combined $1 trillion in defense spending – are largely unaware of how these funds are being spent, as most of the alliance’s expenditures remain classified.
For decades the accounting records of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which marked its 65th anniversary in April, remained largely ‘blotted out’ as classified, leaving billions of NATO dollars unaccounted for, claim auditors from the Netherlands.
The official controlling body of the Dutch government, the Netherlands Court of Audit (NCA), which also audits the funds annually allocated by Netherlands government on NATO activities, collected information from open sources on NATO expenditures over the last 40 years. The results of this extensive research have been published last Tuesday on a specially-created English language website.
The NCA stipulates it has no “specific mandate to audit NATO,” yet the organization is involved in advising the International Board of Auditors for NATO (IBAN). Financial inspections of the last six years have brought auditors from IBAN, the NCA and other NATO member states to the conclusion that bloc’s finances are not in order.
State officials from all of NATO’s 28 member states actually have no idea where the alliance’s funds go and who’s the final recipient of huge amounts of money, the NCA claims.
“NATO might be wasting a lot of money, or maybe they are short of cash. Frankly, we have no idea,” shared NCA President Saskia Stuiveling.
A third, or $2.4 billion, of the Netherlands’ $7.8 billion military budget in 2013 was spent on NATO missions in Afghanistan. The lack of transparency of military spending “does not contribute to the public support for NATO” among the Dutch citizens, Stuiveling said.
The overall defense budget of all 28 NATO member states exceeds $1 trillion, of that about 75 percent is spent by the US.