McClatchy Newspapers got a hold of the Integrity Commission’s 2008 report on corruption in Iraq. The Commission is the top anti-corruption body in the country. The report was deeply critical of Iraq’s ministries and politicians, who were accused of actively stopping investigations.
First, the Commission had a hard time following up on its cases. Over $1.3 billion worth of corruption cases were dropped in 2008, with the most coming from the Defense Ministry. That represented only 11% of the total cases pardoned however, with the others having no monetary value given to them. 2,772 defendants were also pardoned during that time, mostly under the 2008 Amnesty Law. That bill was supposed to help with reconciliation, but it also allows amnesty for corruption cases. Another barrier is Article 136B that lets ministers and other high officials to stop the Integrity Commission’s work. Iraq’s ministries blocked 210 investigations in 2008, including several cases worth $1-$6 million, and a look at two ministers. The Oil Ministry was the largest culprit in using 136B. The effect of the Amnesty Law and 136B has been only 397 convictions from 2004 to 2008. The highest number of convictions came from the Interior, Finance and Defense ministries, in that order.
Iraq’s politicians have been no better at following transparency rules. By law, Iraqi officials are required to disclose their finances each year, but this is hardly ever followed. Iraq’s Prime Minister, President, Vice Presidents and deputy Prime Ministers have never turned over their records. Of Iraq’s ministers, only the Oil Minister has disclosed his finances, and done so twice. There are 275 members of parliament, none disclosed their finances in 2008, and only 14 did so in 2007.
Financial Disclosures By Iraqi Officials 2005-2008
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: None
Deputy Prime Ministers: None
President Jalal Talabani: None
Vice Presidents Tariq al-Hashemi and Adel Abdul Mahdi: None
Speaker of Parliament: None
First Deputy Speaker of Parliament: Once in 2006
Second Deputy Speaker: None
Minister of Interior: None
Minister of Defense: None
Minister of Finance: None
Minister of Oil: Twice – 2007 and 2008
Minister of Planning: None
Governor of Iraqi Central Bank: None
275 members of parliament: 14 in 2007, none in 2008
Corruption reached endemic levels under Saddam, and has seemingly gotten no better since his overthrow. Transparency International, which monitors corruption across the globe, has consistently ranked Iraq at the bottom of its list since 2003. In 2008 for example, it was ranked the third most corrupt country in the world out of 180 nations.
Transparency International’s Annual Corruption Index Ranking of Iraq 2003-2008
2003 Tied for 113 out of 133
2004 Tied for 129 out of 146
2005 Tied for 137 out of 159
2006 Tied for 160 out of 163
2007 178 out of 180
2008 177 out of 180
Iraq’s Planning Minister Ali Baban also recently warned that corruption is preventing the development of Iraq’s economy and the provision of services. 2009 has seen some high profile examples from the deputy Transport Minister attempting to extort money from a western security firm, to the Trade Minister and his brother being arrested for stealing funds. Neither Baghdad nor Washington has made a strong commitment to ending this problem, which probably means its continuation.
Aswat al-Iraq, “Minister says govt. unable to cover projects, eyes private sector,” 9/3/09
Chon, Gina, “Graft Case Against Ex-Minister Splits Iraq Parties,” Wall Street Journal, 6/1/09
Inside Iraq, “$1.3 billion is pardoned in Iraq and more,” McClatchy Newspapers, 9/13/09
O’Hanlon, Michael and Campbell, Jason, “Iraq Index,” Brookings Institution
Reuters, “Iraq deputy transport minister arrested for graft,” 9/3/09