Former Iraqi minister detained on corruption charges

May 31st, 2009 - 12:28 am ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, May 30 (DPA) Former Iraqi trade minister Abdel-Falah al-Sudani was detained at Baghdad airport on suspicion of corruption, Al-Jazeera reported Saturday.
Al-Sudani, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, had resigned Monday after facing parliamentary questioning over his management of food imports for Iraq’s public food ration programme and employing relatives.

Parliament had been scheduled to vote on a no-confidence measure Thursday, but cancelled the vote after al-Maliki announced he had accepted al-Sudani’s resignation.

Two of the former minister’s brothers face charges of taking kickbacks worth millions of dollars on proceeds from food imports. One of them was detained while allegedly trying to flee the country, and remains in custody.

Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), the country’s anti-corruption body, Wednesday announced authorities had issued 997 arrest warrants for officials accused of corruption, including 53 senior officials.

Police arrested some 120 officials on corruption charges over the course of April and May, the commission said.

All this corruption cost the government $250 billion over the last five years, Judge Moussa Faraj of the CPI said.

In 2006, former minister of electricity Ayham al-Samarrai was sentenced to two years’ in prison on the charge that $2 billion earmarked for the reconstruction of Iraq’s power network disappeared under his watch.

In September 2007, Judge Radhi Hamza resigned from his post as Iraq’s first anti-corruption commissioner, citing political pressure from al-Maliki’s government and anonymous death threats.

But in the fourth and final year of al-Maliki’s term, the prime minister has vowed to crack down on corruption, including at the highest levels.

Iraq was rated as the third most corrupt country in the world after Somalia and Myanmar, according to the 2008 report of international watchdog Transparency International.

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