Iraqi trade officials jailed for corruption

An Iraqi court has jailed three senior officials for corruption at the Trade Ministry, where millions of dollars were embezzled.

Iraqi trade officials jailed for corruption

An Iraqi court has jailed three senior officials for corruption at the Trade Ministry, where millions of dollars were embezzled from one of the world's biggest food rationing schemes.

The head of the ministry's agency for importing tea, sugar and other foods, Qais Mohammed Naseeb, was given a year in jail after investigators found that Trade Ministry officials had stolen millions of dollars meant to buy food or taken kickbacks.

Naseeb's deputy, Mohammed Abdul-Saheb, got a two-year term, while former ministry spokesman Mohammed Hanoon got a year.

"The Samawa criminal court passed prison sentences on three accused at the Trade Ministry in connection with investigations conducted by the Integrity Commission," the commission said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

The ministry confirmed the names and sentences of the three men.

Iraqis are increasingly frustrated by what they see as epidemic government corruption, which they blame for the poor state of basic services such as water and electricity.

Former trade minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany was forced to resign over graft allegations at the ministry, and is out on bail in Iraq after a plane he was travelling in was ordered to turn back when he attempted to leave the country.

Watchdog group Transparency International placed Iraq fifth from the bottom of its 2009 ranking of perceptions of public corruption.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to crack down on corrupt officials but only a handful have been prosecuted.

Reuters
Last Mod: 25 Aralık 2009, 17:11
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