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)

By Omar Sattar, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

With Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi thought to be working on reforms that include the formation of a technocratic Cabinet, the issue of proxy appointments is back in the spotlight.

For more than a decade, Iraqi government institutions have been run by proxy, with the prime minister appointing officials in acting capacities to lead government bodies, independent commissions and military commands because of parliament’s failure to vote on candidates due to political disagreements over the distribution of positions.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Hamdia al-Husseini, a member of the parliament’s legal committee, explained:

“Acting officials include undersecretaries and independent commission heads, like at the Central Bank and integrity and intelligence commissions, as well as military commanders and other senior officials. They hold over 80% of the posts at government bodies, especially at the Ministries of Defense and Interior, in addition to security bodies and other important Iraqi official institutions.”

Husseini added:

“Appointment by proxy contradicts the constitution and the Civil Code of 1960 prohibiting acting officials from holding their post for more than one annual term.

“The issue of acting officials, whether in the Cabinet or the rest of the government institutions, is a critical one, because their decisions are not constitutional. Their appointment is not subject to any legal standards, as acting officials cannot be legally held accountable because they were appointed by the prime minister, not the parliament as per the constitution.

“The problem of appointment by proxy will likely be resolved as part of the new Cabinet reforms Prime Minister Abadi is seeking to implement in addition to the formation of a technocratic Cabinet.

“It is illogical to implement political reforms and form a professional Cabinet while most undersecretaries and director generals are being appointed without parliamentary approval as stipulated by the constitution.”

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Ministry of Oil Concludes Shaky Deal for Missan Refinery with Satarem

The Ministry of Oil has decided to go ahead with the Missan Refinery deal with the legally bankrupt small Swiss company Satarem, and a Chinese Company (Wahan), as stated briefly on the Ministry’s website today 22 February 2016.

I have been following this scandalous case since mid-2013 and written about it since then. [i]

Many international companies who had legal cases against Satarem and its owner, Jerome Friler, provided me with evidence and court verdicts in their favor against Mr. Friler and I have mentioned all these in my previous articles and communications about the matter; the Ministry of Oil is well informed about all these issues.

Between 29 October 2015 and 4 January 2016 I circulated many communications (emails) within my professional network inside and outside Iraq on the issue, which generated much feedback from Iraqi oil professionals including those connected to the political establishment.[ii]

Despite all that I and other Iraqi oil professionals wrote since mid-2013, the Ministry of Oil did not provide any official statement explaining fully and accurately the economic rational, based on a feasibility study.

What was provided by its contract consultant represents his views and they are hardly convincing at all; and that prompted me to provide, through email exchanges, further insights questioning the weak premises of the deal especially those related to due diligence, selection and qualification criteria, feasibility study and the apparent unsuitability of Satarem for this complex and expensive refinery.

Then in a related article I conclude: “The experience with the scandalous Satarem/Missan Refinery deal (with a legally bankrupt and technically incompetent small company) was ill-advised as well on the premise of privatization and attracting foreign investors.[iii]

Read more >>>

By John Lee.

According to a report from Shafaaq, an Iraqi Trade Ministry media adviser, who was killed last month by a bomb attached to his car, had been about to hand over files accusing the ministry of corruption to the country’s Integrity Commission.

The Central Investigating Court said in a statement that four security guards in the Ministry of Trade confessed of bombing the car of Nathim Naeem, the media advisor to the Minister of Trade, Malas Mohammed Abdul Karim [Malas Abdulkarim al-Kasnazani].

A spokesman for that court said the men, arrested for killing several trade ministry employees including Naeem, were part of Abdul Kareem’s protection unit. They are awaiting trial on charges of terrorism and premeditated murder, he said.

There is no evidence implicating Abdul Kareem in the killing and he was cleared in an investigation ordered by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Despite absolving Abdul Kareem of murder, Iraq issued an arrest warrant for the minister and his brother on 18th October after an investigation into bribes, illegal benefits, and the misuse of his position.

(Source: Shafaaq)

(Corruption image via Shutterstock)