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Corruption is rampant in Iraq, officials admit Open in fullscreen

Safa Abdul Hamid

Corruption is rampant in Iraq, officials admit

Few governments are more corrupt than Iraq's [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 23 October, 2014

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After years of condemnation by transparency groups, Baghdad admits corruption is present at all levels of government.

Iraq is one of the most corrupt states in the world - and that's not just the view of transparency organisations, it's also the view of Baghdad officials.

Reports detailing bribery, backhanders, buyoffs, blackmail and brown envelopes were "objective", acknowledged the Iraqi Ministry of Transport on Tuesday. 

Undersecretary Benkin Rikani confirmed the "chaotic" ministry squandered public money and employed more than 800 employees to do the work of 100.

Corruption has become so endemic in Iraq that the Inspector General himself has organised a special
"Week of Integrity".

"The phenomenon of corruption is deeply rooted in Iraqi society and has become a culture common to all its members," Rikani said at an event in Baghdad to mark the week.

He called on political leaders to "uncover corruption through the media". 

"Improper monitoring has caused a rise in corruption across the country," he said.  

     Public funds are squandered in all cabinet ministries without exception.
- Benkin Rikani, Ministry of Transport

"Work in Iraq lacks an ethical basis, a conscience and a mechanism for public transactions... public funds are squandered in all cabinet ministries without exception. People cannot work independently and work is completely chaotic.  

In its 2014 report, Transparency International ranked Iraq the sixth most corrupt state on the planet. Somalia was the most corrupt followed by Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan and Libya. 

Basem al-Shaikhly, the ministry's assistant inspector general, also spoke at the event.

"Iraqi institutions need to reinforce public awareness of the dangers of corruption in the public consciousness, combat it and not yield to it or forgive it," he said. 

Shaikhly called on political leaders to fight corruption at the executive, legislative and judicial levels, stressing "the need for civil society organisations to pressure political leaders to combat corruption and the corrupt". 

He concluded by turning to foreign governments and international organisations. "They should refrain from corrupting public servants and report whomever requests they pay in advance." 

The Iraqi Commission of Integrity's next report will name corrupt cabinet ministers, undersecretaries and directors, it is understood. The commission confirmed that other states had received money stolen from Iraq, and announced it is preparing to recover some of the stolen funds.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic website.

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