Tag Archive | "Corruption"

The latest corruption news from Iraq – company or government bribes, theft, stealing – brought to you by Iraq Business News

Iraq’s Corruption Continues Unchecked

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

An Iraqi contractor who works on road pavement and sewage projects in the Iraqi capital told Al-Monitor, “Government officials as well as senior contractors related to them have stakes in most, if not all, of Iraq’s construction projects, which are sold to executing contractors at a price that guarantees their implementation with the minimum level of specifications and at the lowest cost.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said, “This revelation is not a secret. It is a fact that the people, government officials and the media continuously talk about.” The contractor’s assertion was supported by a statement issued by Baghdad province Jan. 19, reporting that 42 people had been referred to the Commission on Public Integrity for corrupt practices involving projects in Baghdad.

Bahaa al-Shammari, a civil engineer who has worked on several reconstruction projects, confirmed to Al-Monitor, “It’s not just about financial corruption, but administrative corruption and circumvention of the law as well. Officials are resorting to their relatives and friends by registering companies in their names for form’s sake when these companies do not have skilled technicians or mechanisms.

With the help of officials, [the companies] sign a contract to rebuild a school, for example, and they carry out the projects either by selling it to another contractor or by recruiting workers and developing mechanisms. This ultimately leads to failed projects.”

In Mahawil city, north of Babylon, a contractor with limited resources was paving a street. He told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “[I] only got a street pavement contract after hard efforts and after [I] had to offer employees and officials several gifts. I will do my best to do a good job, but the problem is the lack of allocated money.”

Posted in Industry & Trade, Politics, SecurityComments (0)

$434m in Damages and Fines for Fraud

By John Lee.

Two companies, Supreme Foodservice GmbH and Supreme Foodservice FZE, have pleaded guilty to fraud charges and been ordered to pay $288.3 million (336 billion Iraqi dinars) in fines and restitutions.

According to the US Department of Justice, the companies, part of the Supreme Group, supplied food and water to coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and used a local company it controlled, Jamal Ahli Foods Co, to mark up the prices was paying for the products, costing the government an estimated $48 million.

Frederick Morgan, lawyer for the whistleblower Michael Epp, said:

“We believe this is the largest fraud recovery against any contractor relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the largest recovery in a military procurement case initiated by a qui tam whistleblower, and one of the largest fraud recoveries against any defense contractor.”

In a statement, Emma Sharma, general counsel for Supreme Group USA, said:

“We accept full responsibility for and deeply regret our past actions. We have implemented new compliance mechanisms and strengthened our internal processes.

We now have some of the most rigorous controls in the industry. We recognise that to re-earn trust, we must always act with integrity.

That’s where our focus is and that’s where our focus will continue to be.”

(Sources: Supply Management, Supreme Group)

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CEO Guilty in Iraq USAID Fraud

By John Lee.

The former CEO of US-based engineering consulting firm Louis Berger Group has pleaded guilty to overbilling for reconstruction contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bloomberg reports that Derish Wolff, 79, admitted that he conspired to defraud the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) over nearly 20 years, enriching himself and his company with money intended for important reconstruction projects.

Wolff is scheduled to be sentenced on 20th March, and could face up to 10 years in prison.

(Source: Bloomberg)

(Corruption image via Shutterstock)

Posted in Construction & Engineering, SecurityComments (2)

Ghost Contractors sink Baghdad after Rains

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

The first rainfall of the season swept Iraqi cities Nov. 21, causing flooding in schools, houses and streets.

Siham Ahmed, a student from al-Diwaniya city south of Baghdad, couldn’t get to class since the roads flooded and the school itself was submerged. “The students’ school uniforms and books were ruined in the mud,” she told Al-Monitor.

The flooding of schools in al-Diwaniya and other parts of Iraq has become an annual phenomenon that local authorities have failed to resolve. A video of a school flooding in Basra province went viral on YouTube and Facebook. Ghayath, a digital activist, commented on the video: “Where is the custodian of Basra?” in reference to the Basra governor and officials.

As Iraqis wage war against the Islamic State (IS), they are also engaged in another war against nature, as streets, city centers and sewage systems flood. Financial corruption has stalled infrastructure projects, and Iraqi infrastructure has subsequently collapsed following first rainfall of the season.

The flooding has even become good material for jokes, despite the tragedy. A YouTube video described the virtual lakes in the streets as an Iraqi “Titanic.”

The people blame corruption and ghost contractors who coordinate with officials to get tenders in return for financial kickbacks, and then sell subcontracts to other people. Jawad al-Chamri, the media officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq, confirmed this practice.

“Corruption in infrastructure [projects] is not just a waste of money, but also a a failure of human rights,” he told Al-Monitor. “The floods in newly built schools have pushed Iraqis to lose trust in their society, as it derogated their right to education.”

Posted in Construction & Engineering, SecurityComments (3)

PM Abadi: Corruption as Dangerous as Terrorism

By John Lee.

On a recent visit to the holy city of Karbala, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi described the existence of ghost” soldiers as a crime on two fronts – the theft of public money and the breach in security which led to the murders of innocent people.

He described the efforts of the Ministry of Interior to pursue those who are unlawfully receiving salaries and warned that corruption is no less dangerous than terrorism.

The Prime Minister also noted that Iraq is facing a financial crisis because of the decline in oil prices and oil revenues, reiterating that he had taken measures to confront this serious problem, starting with the reduction of salaries of cabinet members.

(Source: Office of the Prime Minister)

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Breaking the Corruption Chain

On Tuesday, the world commemorated the International Anti Corruption Day.

On that Day, 9 December, 11 years ago, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), was first opened for signature and adoption by Member States of the United Nations, in Mexico.

The Convention named the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as the custodian of UNCAC. UNODC has been working with Member States to adopt UNCAC’s measures, strengthen their national laws, build their national consensus and capacities to fight corruption.

A decade after its adoption, UNCAC stands out as the most relevant legally binding treaty, the universal foundation for countering and preventing corruption around the world. Many concrete steps have been taken by the global community to fight corruption and much has been achieved. Yet, much more remains to be done.

Corruption remains a complex phenomenon affecting countries across social, political and economic boundaries. Fighting corruption in all its forms, such as bribery, embezzlement, extortion, or trading in influence, nepotism, etc., remains a priority for Iraq, for UNODC, and the international community.

In the Middle East and North Africa, following the political transformations in the region initiated by popular demands for transparency and justice, countries have progressed in reforming the judiciary, governance and law enforcement. Notable increase in citizen participation to fight and report corrupt practices has been witnessed and businesses have taken action to boost their ethical behavior and procurement rules.

UNODC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa has been working with national partners in the region, and through the technical assistance of UNODC, countries in the MENA region have been steadily implementing the principles and values enshrined in the Convention. Our joint efforts stemming from the Regional Programme that all Arab countries have endorsed, have lead to adoption and implementation of a number of anti corruption strategies across the region, to enhanced capacities of specialized anti corruption bodies, has promoted the criminal justice responses to investigation, prosecution and adjudication of serious corruption cases and has fostered inter agency and international cooperation in criminal matters and recovery of stolen assets.

Posted in SecurityComments (1)

Iraq Improves Transparency Ranking (Slightly)

By John Lee.

Transparency International has said that Iraq has risen one place in its global Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

From at total of 175 countries, Iraq came in at number 170, slightly better than last year’s position of 171.

This result puts it ahead of countries such as Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Somalia (which came last), and just behind Libya, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Denmark came first, again, followed by New Zealand, Finland and Sweden.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is a composite index, drawing on corruption-related data collected by a variety of reputable institutions.

(Corruption image via Shutterstock)

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Maliki’s Son “Arrested” in Lebanon

By John Lee.

The son of former Iraqi Prime Minister and current Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has reportedly been arrested in Lebanon in possession of more than US $1.5 billion “in cash”.

BasNews cites Lebanese media sources as claiming that Ahmed al-Maliki is being detained in a prison on Beirut, and that Nouri al-Maliki has travelled to Lebanon in the hope of securing his release.

Security sources in Lebanon claim that Ahmed received the money via an Iraqi bank that transferred it to a Lebanese bank for him, and that the total received since the beginning of 2014 was about three billion US dollars (3.6 trillion Iraqi dinars).

(Source: BasNews)

(Dollars image via Shutterstock)

Posted in Politics, SecurityComments (18)

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