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Iraq suspends governor over corruption allegations 

January 11, 2023 at 12:25 pm

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Tehran, Iran on November 29, 2022 [Iranian Presidency/Anadolu Agency]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani has issued an order to suspend the governor of Diwaniyah, Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, while an investigation over corruption allegations is carried out, the Iraqi News Agency has reported.

“The decision was made due to the investigative procedures on suspicions of administrative and financial corruption, which the competent courts are reviewing,” confirmed the prime minister’s media office.

Shaalan has not yet commented on the decision, but if found guilty he could face a maximum of seven years imprisonment. “Every public official or agent who intentionally causes damage to the funds or interests of the entity in which he works or is connected shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years,” explains the Iraqi Penal Code.

READ: Iraq anti-corruption body forms high commission to probe major cases

Local activist Nawres Shibani complained on Twitter on Sunday that, “Diwaniyah governorate has been suffering from mismanagement by the governor, Zuhair Al Shaalan, who proved that he is the worst governor in the country. Very little has been achieved during his time in office.”

Since assuming the premiership in October 2022, Sudani has pledged to combat corruption, which has cost the country billions of dollars and has had a negative impact on the provision of public services.

Late last year, at least $2.5 billion was stolen from the federal tax authority, which the government described as “the heist of the century”. The embezzled tax revenue was reportedly withdrawn by shell companies and laundered through real estate purchases in Baghdad’s most affluent areas.

In the run-up to the 2018 national election, Iraq’s Parliamentary Transparency Commission estimated that at least $320bn in government funds had disappeared since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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