By John Lee.

Iraq’s Commission on Integrity has issued a warrants for the arrest of the governor of Kirkuk, the director of school buildings in the governorate, along with 23 employees.

The are accused of misappropriating nearly 58 billion Iraqi dinars ($49 million) in relation to a school-building programme.

The project was assigned to a foreign-based company, which is alleged to have altered the designs of the schools, which were then built using a cheaper, pre-fabricated method of construction.

Kurdistan24 names the governor as Rakan al-Jabouri.

More here and here.

(Source: Commission on Integrity, Kurdistan24)

The post m Corruption Allegation in Kirkuk first appeared on Iraq Business News.

By Michael Knights, for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kadhimi’s Rolling Reshuffle (Part 2): Protecting Iraq’s Economic Institutions and Borders

On September 14, Baghdad announced a range of strategic leadership appointments for institutions tasked with overseeing Iraq’s economy, borders, and anti-corruption efforts-a list that includes banks, customs authorities, airports, seaports, land crossings, municipal bodies, investigative committees, and more.

The ambitious scope of the appointments and the centralized manner in which they were made says a great deal about Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s commitment to changing the corrosive status quo in Baghdad.

The question now is whether his government can withstand the coming pushback from militia and political elements who benefit from that status quo. The following is a digest of the new technocratic appointments and their implications; see Part 1 of this PolicyWatch for a discussion of Kadhimi’s recent military reshuffling.

Click here to read the full article, which includes details of the new appointments.

The post Details of PM’s New Appointments to Key Institutions first appeared on Iraq Business News.

By Michael Knights, for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kadhimi’s Rolling Reshuffle (Part 2): Protecting Iraq’s Economic Institutions and Borders

On September 14, Baghdad announced a range of strategic leadership appointments for institutions tasked with overseeing Iraq’s economy, borders, and anti-corruption efforts-a list that includes banks, customs authorities, airports, seaports, land crossings, municipal bodies, investigative committees, and more.

The ambitious scope of the appointments and the centralized manner in which they were made says a great deal about Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s commitment to changing the corrosive status quo in Baghdad.

The question now is whether his government can withstand the coming pushback from militia and political elements who benefit from that status quo. The following is a digest of the new technocratic appointments and their implications; see Part 1 of this PolicyWatch for a discussion of Kadhimi’s recent military reshuffling.

Click here to read the full article, which includes details of the new appointments.

The post Details of PM’s New Appointments to Key Institutions first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraqi Defence Minister Najah Al-Shammari has issued an order on Thursday to refer several officers and commanders to military courts on corruption charges.

The Ministry of Defence did not name the officers or specify their ranks.

Last year, the Iraqi Commission of Integrity uncovered more than 2,000 warrants for corruption in the country in 2017, issued against 290 government officials, including ministers.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has asked Iraq’s Integrity Commission to investigate the delays and stoppages in some infrastructure projects in Basra and other southern provinces.

He said some of these delays were the result of corruption, while other we because of what he described as a dereliction of duty and a failure of leadership.

He added that they will also look at the administration of border crossings to ensure that they are outside the influence of any political group.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraq is boosting its efforts to extradite fugitives wanted in corruption cases.

On Jan. 25, Iraqi authorities in cooperation with Interpol took custody of former Trade Minister Abdel Falah al-Sudani, who had been extradited from Lebanon. Sudani, a fugitive since 2009, had been tried and sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison for corruption.

Ziad al-Qattan, the former general secretary in the Ministry of Defense, was extradited from Jordan and handed over to Iraqi authorities Jan. 11.​ Qattan is accused of embezzling about $1 billion from the ministry.

“Such steps toward trying accused [politicians] in a country that is at the top of the list of the most corrupt countries, such as Iraq, are of paramount importance to regain the people’s confidence in the Iraqi judiciary and its ability to tackle corruption,” legal expert Ali Jaber told Al-Monitor.

“The extradition of wanted people is twofold. The procedure goes through the bilateral agreement between Iraq and other countries and through the international police [Interpol],” he said.

The UN Charter allows countries fighting terrorist groups to ask for assistance from the Security Council, which is the case with Iraq. These countries can also claim funds that had been smuggled abroad.

“Many countries have been helping Iraq to recover funds and take fugitives into custody,” Jaber said. “I believe that Iraq will witness many breakthroughs in the future at this level, especially since the Iraqi government said tackling corruption will be its top priority after the end of the war on the Islamic State.”

In early January, a representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency met in Iraq with Integrity Commission Chairman Hassan al-Yasiri to discuss, among other topics, coordinating anti-corruption efforts.

The Integrity Commission said Iraq, with Interpol’s help, recovered about 2 billion Iraqi dinars ($1.68 million) in December from nine convicted fugitives by tracking their money and conducting investigations to follow financial transactions globally.

Many officials accused of corruption remain free, however. Some have dual nationality, which makes it easier for them to leave. For example, Basra Gov. Majid al-Nasrawi used his Australian passport to flee Iraq in August. He faces charges of stealing public money.

There are also warrants out for the arrests of fugitive officials wanted on corruption charges, including former Minister of Electricity Ayham al-Samarrai, former Transport Minister Louay al-Ors and former Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan, who was accused in 2005 of being involved in the theft of at least $1.3 billion from the ministry.

Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, a spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad, explained extradition procedures to Al-Monitor. “The Supreme Judicial Council issues warrants for the recovery of smuggled funds. The Extradition Division in the public prosecutor’s office follows up on the matter. The prosecutor then issues the necessary decisions,” which could entail property confiscation.

Legal expert Tariq Harb told Al-Monitor, “The current process in Iraq is that the authorities hand over the official documents of charges of the accused to Interpol. In the event Interpol catches the accused, the Iraqi security authorities will take them into custody to stand a fair trial.”

Iraq’s increased efforts to recover assets from abroad will help speed up the often lengthy process of extradition. However, “this doesn’t mean this road won’t be fraught with many obstacles, as many of the accused are linked to powerful politicians who could pull some strings to derail or end the procedures.” Some countries might also use prisoners as bargaining chips, he said.

Ahmad al-Jubouri, a member of the parliamentary Legal Committee, told Al-Monitor, “The process to recover funds and arrest [those accused] is of major importance, as the Iraqi people have been demanding reforms and the fight against corruption. Under this pressure, the Iraqi government has started to take serious steps” and has even hired foreign companies to help track funds and facilitate extradition. “The upcoming period will witness major changes in corruption investigations,” he said.

He added, “The arrest of Sudani and Qattan will open the door to further arrests of the people who misused and smuggled public funds to neighboring countries. Some of the accused are traders and businessmen who made illicit deals in the name of influential politicians or political parties. Iraq is known for the rampant corruption among politicians. The arrests will include all those who took part in or facilitated embezzlement of public funds. This will be a crucial step in recovering these funds.”

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Every day new anti-corruption cases are announced in Iraq’s new “war on corruption”. Yet they achieve virtually nothing. This may well be a war that nobody in Iraq can win.

Last week the Iraqi prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, said that now that the war against the extremist group known as the Islamic State had been won, that a new war should be fought – and this one would be against corruption.

Last year the advocacy organisation Transparency International says that Iraq was the 166th most corrupt country in the world out of 176. And corruption of all kinds has been a problem in the country for decades. It’s almost a way of life here. So this will be far from an easy fight. In fact, it may prove to be more difficult than the fight against the Islamic State group.

Iraqi politics functions according to a kind of unofficial sectarian quota system that was established after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.  In order to avoid sectarian infighting among politicians, US administrators thought it best to split the most important positions in Iraq’s new Parliament between the three major ethnic and sectarian groups in the country; that is, the Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Iraqi Kurdish.

Over time though, many analysts believe this practice has come to hamper Iraqi democracy, with leaders being picked for their sect or ethnicity, rather than on merit.

And the system is far more problematic than that. In reality, it is based on two further principles: How much power each appointment gives to the person who gets the job, and therefore how much money the appointment can generate.

Every party in the Iraqi government today also has what is known as an “economics office”, a bureau tasked with raising funds for the political party using the government jobs held by the members themselves. According to insiders, who cannot be named for security reasons, these offices coordinate making deals and signing contracts behind the scenes so that investments and kickbacks are shared with the political party itself.

Lebanese security services arrested have reportedly arrested the former Iraqi trade minister, Abdul-Fallah al-Sudani [Abd al-Falah al-Sudani], who is convicted of corruption.

Sudani, who is wanted by Interpol, was arrested in Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (pictured) on 10th September.

In 2012, Sudani was convicted of embezzlement in absentia and sentenced to seven years in jail.

As a leader in the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite Dawa Party, he served as trade minister 2006-2009.

After he was accused by the Integrity Board of corruption, he attempted to flee but was arrested in Baghdad Airport. He was then released on bail and later escaped the country.

(Source: GardaWorld)

The Commission of Integrity has denied reports on the release of Iraqi Airways chairman following his arrest “red-handed” taking a bribe.

A commission statement on August 15 said that reports by some media outlets that claimed the release of Samer Kabba, the Iraqi Airways chairman, were untrue.

The statement said the investigating judge referred the case to the criminal court to complete legal procedures.

It also urged media outlets to verify reports on this issue.

Media reports said Kabba was released on bail pending investigations after his arrest while accepting a bribe.

An MP earlier warned against pressures on the judiciary to release Kabba.

(Source: GardaWorld)

By John Lee.

The governor Basra has reportedly stepped down and gone to Iran following an investigation by the Integrity Commission into allegations of corruption against him.

The Integrity Commission has asking the foreign ministry in Baghdad to ask Iran to repatriate Majid al-Nasrawi.

According to a report from Reuters, a Basra-based politician close to Nasrawi said the accusations were “politically motivated“.

(Source: Reuters)