Nasrawi: Yes. Take this example: There is a company, which is supposedly foreign, owned by an Iraqi contractor. The company changed its name to KMK — the initials of the Iraqi owner, who was responsible for previous projects. After registering his company [under a different name] in Lebanon, he received a number of huge projects in the name of his “foreign” company. The local companies that caused all of the chaos in Basra left Iraq, “painted their faces” and returned under the banner of a “foreign company.” This phenomenon has been dubbed the “KMK phenomenon.” Thus, aside from oil companies, there are no foreign companies in Basra.
This issue reveals the size of financial corruption in Basra, and in Iraq in general. Corrupt [officials] are pervasive and have influence everywhere and they impose their projects. Concerning the Qurna project — a huge project that is supposed to revive this region where the Tigris and Euphrates meet — I refused to conclude contracts with a group of Dutch, Lebanese and German companies. They were [foreign] only in name. There were no Dutch, Lebanese or German nationals involved, only Iraqi companies.
Al-Monitor: In your opinion, aside from security issues, what are the main reasons foreign companies are not coming to Basra?
Nasrawi: There are obstacles placed in front of foreign investors that prevent them from even thinking about bidding for a project. For example, low price estimates are given at the start, meaning a foreign company will not even think about [getting involved in] the project. Even when a company makes an [initial] bid, the investors have trouble obtaining entry visas for Iraq.
The amount of time it takes them [to get a visa] is longer than the period granted for presenting the project. Moreover, they are subject to conditions that are incompatible with the standards of serious foreign companies. There is corruption when it comes to estimating the financial capabilities of companies — these estimates are carried out in roundabout ways. It’s a festival of corruption.