Tag Archive | "Corruption"

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

MP Fined for Offering Land for Votes

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

A video of Mahmoud al-Hassan, an Iraqi member of parliament (MP) from the State of Law Coalition, talking to a group of farmers in the province of Diwaniyah has circulated in Iraqi media.

In the video, he is holding a stack of real estate title deeds and telling the farmers that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sent him to give them plots of land in exchange for their votes in favor of his coalition in the elections. The video has triggered much controversy in Iraq, as its content constitutes several violations of the law.

Hassan is an MP and does not hold any executive position that allows him to distribute title deeds. Moreover, his actions are seen as political extortion, aimed at obtaining votes by using the state’s resources.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) fined Hassan 50 million Iraqi dinars ($43,000) for violating the rules for electoral campaigns. Yet, some felt that this punishment was not sufficient and is not commensurate with the seriousness of the offense he committed.

They believe that the IHEC is being lenient with the prime minister’s allies. What is interesting is that Hassan had been a judge in one of the most critical Iraqi courts — the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal — which was supposed to make him more vigilant about observing laws.

This incident is further indication of the growing tendency among groups that have strong leverage in the executive branch to use the state’s resources and capabilities to achieve political advantage over their opponents. The State of Law Coalition has become increasingly dominant over many of the state’s departments, which facilitated the use of political patronage in gaining followers and votes in a similar way to that by the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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UN Reaffirms Support in Fight Against Corruption

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) Mr. Nickolay Mladenov (pictured) has reaffirmed UN support to Iraq in its fight against corruption.

This came at the opening session of the Baghdad Second International Forum on Stolen Assets Recovery, which was organized by the Integrity Commission.

The UN is taking accountability, transparency and anti-corruption very seriously at both the international level and within the region,” Mr. Mladenov said.

Corruption is a virus that plagues transitional societies. It hinders peace-building and state-building efforts, undermining trust in public institutions; it robs people of dignity and development, it deprives them of basic services. Corruption empowers organised crime, funds violence and terrorism” he said.

The Government of Iraq in partnership with the National Commission on Integrity and UNDP have recently launched a new initiative to recover stolen assets and increase cooperation with law enforcement authorities in other countries to detect, trace, confiscate and recover stolen assets.

The entire UN family and UNDP will continue to stand by the people of Iraq and their Government in their fight against corruption,” Mladenov added.

(Source: UN)

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GSK Investigates Alleged Improper Conduct in Iraq

By John Lee.

Bloomberg reports that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is investigating allegations of improper conduct in Iraq.

The company said:

These allegations relate to a small number of individuals. However, we are investigating whether there has been any improper conduct. We have zero tolerance for unethical or illegal behavior.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Glaxo hired 16 government-employed doctors and pharmacists as paid sales representatives in Iraq.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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Karbala’s New Computer System to Prevent Corruption

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.

Karbala’s New Computer System to Prevent Bribery, Abuse and Burning of Official Documents

Authorities in the religious centre of Karbala are planning to computerize their records and start a database of all citizens’ information. They hope it will cut out bribery, long delays, staff abuse and prevent the need to burn millions of documents when they run out of storage.

The most crowded offices in the Iraqi city of Karbala are those occupied by bureaucrats working for the federal and local government: every day, hundreds of locals come here to register land sales, report births and deaths, register marriages and undertake many other similar tasks.

But it’s never easy. The Iraqi ID card, also known as the Civil Status Identification Card, is one of the most important documents an Iraqi can have. It contains a person’s date of birth, family members’ names and marital status. The card is re-issued at various times of a person’s life and every time it is, locals must re-apply.

There are usually delays: for example, a new born child may have to wait three months before it receives such a card and officially becomes an Iraqi. This is important because that is also how long it will take to get the baby’s name entered onto the family’s ration card; a form of social welfare, the ration card system started in the early 1990s after sanctions were imposed on Iraq and it allows card holders to claim a variety of household staples.

Every time a local has to go to a government department they will need to carry an array of documentation with them – things like a certificate of nationality, the ID card, a housing card and the ration card. Often photographs will also be required as are photocopies of the various aforementioned documents.

Interestingly enough – and perhaps somewhat ironically – once a local has applied for whatever they need, the papers are stored for a short time in the department’s offices. However, if they are no longer required, they are burnt.

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US Investigates Iraq War Recruitment Fraud

By John Lee.

BBC reports that more than 1,200 people are under investigation in relation to a US military recruitment fraud during the Iraq war.

The alleged fraud, in which referral fees were illegally collected for recruiting soldiers, is said to have cost the US government at least $29 million, and possibly as much as $100 million.

The programme paid soldiers, civilians and retirees $2,000 to $7,500 to recruit friends and family into the military, according to congressional documents.

Investigators claim that some high school principals and guidance counsellors accepted money for recruiting students who they knew were already planning to join the military.

Other recruiters illegally accepted bonuses after forcing subordinates to register as recruiting assistants, before substituting their own bank account information.

More than 700 recruiters and 200 military officers are under investigation, and several former recruiters and soldiers have been indicted on federal charges.

(Source: BBC)

(Corruption image via Shutterstock)

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KBR and Others Sued for Kickbacks

The US government has filed a complaint against Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc. (KBR) and Kuwaiti companies La Nouvelle General Trading & Contracting Co. (La Nouvelle) and First Kuwaiti Trading Co. (First Kuwaiti) for submitting false claims in connection with KBR’s contract with the Army to provide logistical support in Iraq, the Department of Justice announced. KBR is an engineering, construction and services firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. Kuwait-based La Nouvelle and First Kuwaiti provided transportation, maintenance and other services in support of KBR’s contract with the Army.

“We depend on companies like KBR and its subcontractors to provide valuable services to our military,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “We will en sure that contractors do not engage in corrupt practices at the expense of our troops abroad, while profiting at the expense of taxpayers at home.

Allegedly, KBR made claims to the government, knowing them to be false, under a contract with the Army to provide wartime logistical support, known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III. The award of LOGCAP III paved the way for the company to become a critical source for logistical support services in Iraq, which included transportation, maintenance, food, shelter and facilities management. KBR performed many of these services through subcontracts awarded to foreign companies local to the region, such as La Nouvelle and First Kuwaiti.

In its complaint, filed in federal court in Rock Island, Ill., the government alleged that, in 2003 and 2004, KBR employees took kickbacks from La Nouvelle and First Kuwaiti in connection with the award and oversight of subcontracts awarded to these companies. KBR then claimed reimbursement from the government for costs it incurred under the subcontracts that allegedly were inflated, excessive or for goods and services that were grossly deficient or not provided.

For example, KBR allegedly awarded La Nouvelle a subcontract to supply fuel tankers for more than three times the tankers’ value. La Nouvelle later rewarded the KBR employee who awarded the subcontract with a $1 million bank draft. As another example, KBR allegedly continued to make monthly lease payments to First Kuwaiti for trucks KBR had already returned to the subcontractor. KBR billed the government for the costs of both of these subcontracts. The lawsuit also alleges that KBR used refrigerated trailers to transport ice for consumption by the troops that had previously been used as temporary morgues without first sanitizing them.

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Corruption and Construction in Karbala

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.

Six Years to Build a Short Road: Corruption and Construction in Karbala

Despite the city’s tourism wealth, Karbala city officials say they don’t have enough money to complete important infrastructure projects, like roads and sewage systems. But critics say there are other reasons: such as corruption, the contracting of non-existent companies to do the jobs and lax contracting procedures.

Construction of a road next to Imad al-Moussawi’s house in Karbala started six years ago. But it still isn’t finished. “It’s not yet fully paved,” al-Moussawi says. “Parts were paved but other parts were not. The same thing happened with the roundabout in the middle of this road. It’s just been fenced off with iron bars and the centre has become a dumping ground for all kinds of rubbish.”

Al-Moussawi lives in the working class neighbourhood of Ghadeer. But this is not the only project in the relatively prosperous town of Karbala that remains uncompleted. A wide number of projects in various areas – roads, bridges, sewages systems – are unfinished. “We see these unfinished projects all around us and we worry about the money that is being spent on these failed projects,” al-Moussawi told NIQASH. “If that money had been spent to help hungry, poor people it would be much better.”

Apparently a lot of the projects are not being finished because the city is running out of money – that is despite it being a prosperous metropolis which, as the site of some of the most important Shiite Muslim shrines in the region, draws millions of tourists every year. The delays in construction and other projects have a major impact on the city’s all-important service sector.

“Karbala won’t be able to sign any new contracts for new services or construction projects until 2016,” Hussein Shadhan, a member of the provincial council’s religious tourism committee, said. “All of the current year’s budget will be used to finalize projects entered into previously.”

In 2012, Karbala received around IQD 200 billion (around US$167 million) from the national budget and in 2013, the city got IQD237 billion (around US$200 million). In 2014 Karbala expects to get about IQD300 billion (around US$350 million). The city also gets extra money from the government to cover expenses that it has around providing security and services to the millions of visitors it receives from Iraq and the region during major religious occasions. For example the Iraqi government gave the city an extra IQD100 billion dinars (US$83 million) to cope with the Ashura festival.

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$6b Refinery Deal to be Investigated

By John Lee.

An Iraqi parliamentary committee has asked the Commission of Integrity to investigate the contract awarded to Satarem to build a $6-billion refinery in Maysan.

Iraq Business News‘ Expert Blogger Ahmed Mousa Jiyad recently questioned the legitimacy of the contract signed with the Swiss company, prompting the Ministry of Oil to issue a statement in its defence.

Shafaaq News said the parliamentary integrity committee debated the issue at the request of Maysan’s governing council, and that the parliament’s oil and energy panel is still investigating alleged corruption in the contract.

(Source: Emirates 24/7)

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