Head of the Integrity Committee, Hasan Yassiri, announcing the outcome of their inquiry. Friday. Photo: Rudaw

Iraqi ministers charged in corruption cases involving thousands of state employees

07/03/2016

BAGHDAD, Iraq—The Iraqi parliament’s Integrity Commission has asked the central government to issue the arrest of 2165 individuals in the country whom the commission officially charged on Friday for embezzlement and bribery at the end of an investigation that lasted over six months.

The majority of the wanted defendants are state employees with at least 6 ministers among them along with dozens of top ranking managers within government institutions.

“These are cases that we have investigated in the first half of this year after they were reported to us by private and government sources,” said Hasan Yassiri, head of the commission explaining that over 13,000 cases had come to their attention with over 2,000 of them leading to an arrest warrant.

“It is a huge number by every account even for the Iraqi government,” Yassiri told reporters after announcing the commission’s results.

Iraq has repeatedly topped the list of the least transparent nations in the past decade where widespread corruption has made it almost impossible for the government to run the country.

According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) reported by Transparency International, Iraq was the least transparent country in 2007 of the total of 178 nations enlisted in the index, followed by Afghanistan and Somalia.

Iraq has gradually fallen in the list, but it was still in the top 15 most corrupt nations in 2015, according to the index.

With over $700 billion of revenues from oil exports since 2003, Iraq is considered a wealthy nation not only in the region but also according to world standards. Nonetheless, the country is still suffering from lack of basic services such as electricity and healthcare.

Earlier this year, supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr took to streets in Baghdad and threatened to take matters in their hands if “corrupted officials” were not punished. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi has tried to reshuffle cabinet ministers and general managers in a bid to meet the demands, but his efforts ended in a difficult deadlock which has since paralyzed both the parliament and his government.

The committee also says the regional countries have not been “cooperative” in deporting wanted officials to Iraq to face the charges.

“We really urge the current members of the parliament to cooperate with us and reveal their wealth as a first step towards transparency,” the committee’s spokesman Teha Difaai told Rudaw.

“But unfortunately most of them refuse to do so,” he said.

LINK:
http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/03072016