Thursday, October 04, 2007

Investigators: Corruption rampant in Iraq government; 'The tide of corruption continues to rise and the problem is as bad today as it's ever been'

Above: A guard checks an oil tanker's identification card before letting it exit the the Baiji Oil Refinery, one of the three largest in Iraq and producing more than 75% of Iraq’s refined products. The facility employs more than 5,000 people, including security guards hired by the Oil Protection Force, which are all employed by Iraq’s Ministry of Oil. Because of problems with guards bribing and extorting drivers, the Oil Protection Force fires and hires at least 10 people each week.

Corruption in Iraq as bad as ever, US official says

Corruption within the Iraqi government is as bad as ever and has become a 'second insurgency' threatening to undermine US and Iraqi efforts to build a stable democracy, a US official said Thursday.

'The tide of corruption continues to rise and the problem is as bad today as it's ever been,' said Stuart Bowen, the US State Department's special inspector for reconstruction in Iraq.

The Iraqi Commission for Public Integrity, which was created in 2004, has carried out some prosecutions, but during the past year the number of corruption cases has increased by 70 per cent, he said. Iraqi ministries have also reported dramatic rises in corruption, Bowen added.

Read the rest at M&C

Investigator: Corruption is 'Rampant' in Iraq Government

A former top Iraqi corruption investigator told a House committee today that corruption is "rampant" in the Iraqi government -- costing the country's treasury as much as $18 billion over the last three years -- and is growing steadily worse amid violence and intimidation directed at officials charged with combating it.

Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, an Iraqi judge who headed the Commission on Public Integrity set up by U.S. authorities in 2004, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that 31 commission employees and at least 12 of their family members have been assassinated in an effort to stop corruption investigations.

"In a number of cases, my staff and their relatives have been kidnapped or detained and tortured prior to being killed," Radhi said. Among those slain, he said, have been a staff member who was gunned down with his wife, who was seven months pregnant, and his security chief's father, whose body was found hanging from a meat hook.

Radhi charged that corruption reaches high into the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who he said has shut down investigations into the diversion of billions of dollars. He said he could not say whether Maliki is personally involved in the malfeasance, but he charged that the prime minister "has protected some of his relatives who were involved in corruption," including a former minister of transportation.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

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