Iraq corruption watchdog summons migration ministry officials for questioning

The country is ranked 157th out of 180 nations on Transparency International’s 2021 corruption index

A protest in Baghdad's Green Zone on Monday.  AFP
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Senior officials in Iraq's Ministry of Migration and Displacement will be questioned over the allocation of funds for a major project in Nineveh province, the country's anti-corruption body said on Friday.

The Iraqi Integrity Commission has summoned officials including the ministry's undersecretary after an investigation into suspected breaches in awarding the contract for the project to establish Al Amleh camp in the northern province.

Others who will be questioned include the director of the ministry's contracts department, as well as the heads and members of the analysis committees, which held “discussions to revise and follow up on prices, supervision and orders" related to the project, the corruption watchdog said.

The investigation follows Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani's vow to crack down on endemic corruption in Iraq and recover billions of dollars stolen state funds.

Mr Al Sudani made the promise after taking office in late October, amid a scandal over 3.7 trillion dinars ($2.5 billion) embezzled from the account of a government agency.

The Integrity Commission investigated the case and is currently before the judiciary.

Corruption has been rife in Iraq under successive governments elected after the US-led invasion of 2003, which toppled the dictator Saddam Hussein.

Billions of dollars given to the government for reconstruction were misused by authorities.

In 2007, a former head of the integrity commission, Radhi Hamza Al Radhi, told the US Congress after fleeing Iraq that $18 billion was missing.

That figure may become as high as $320 billion, according to Iraq’s Parliamentary Transparency Commission.

Iraq is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It ranked 157th out of 180 nations on Transparency International’s 2021 corruption index.

Updated: March 04, 2023, 2:41 PM