Corruption one of ‘biggest issues’ facing Iraqi Kurdistan’s institutions: Erbil governor

Corruption one of ‘biggest issues’ facing Iraqi Kurdistan’s institutions: Erbil governor

2019/12/02 | 01:40 - Source: Iraq News

(ThisDay | Iraq News Now)- Firsat Sofi, the Governor of Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, September 12, 2019.

Photo: Rudaw

HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— The Governor of Erbil said Sunday that corruption is one of the “biggest issues” that has faced Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) institutions.

His remarks came during an event in Erbil organized by the Kurdistan Region’s Commission of Integrity to highlight its campaign to fight corruption.

Governor Firsat Sofi said that he would try to be on the front lines of the government’s reform effort.

“We must engage this fight with courage so as to confront corruption.

It will become harder [if] we postpone it,” he said.

For many years, transparency organizations, lawmakers, and international organizations have accused senior KRG officials of corruption, especially with regard to expropriation of the Kurdistan Region’s oil income.

The government has long promised action to combat graft, but has never made much headway.

There have been few high-level corruption prosecutions resulting in substantive penalties.

On November 20, Kurdistan premier Masrour Barzani said the KRG had managed to reduce corruption significantly in the Region, adding that the KRG had completely stopped bribery and the use of relationships to unfairly influence bureaucratic procedures, but offered little to back up his assertion.

Earlier in November, a US magazine said the Barzani family had purchased two mansions in Beverly Hills for $47 million.

But Barzani’s office denied these allegations.

Transparency International ranks Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, 168 out of 180 on its Corruption Perception Index.

In a report on the Kurdistan Region, the watchdog notes that corruption has deep roots in the governance system.

“Corruption challenges are rooted in the strong role that the two established political parties have in the political system, nepotism, a weak bureaucratic governance system, and the task to ensure proper use of oil revenues,” it said in a summary.

Kurdistan considered as the most corrupted part of Iraq. According to Kurdish lawmakers and leaked documents billions of dollars are missing from Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil revenues.

The ruling Barzani clan control a large number of commercial enterprises and involved in oil business in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a gross value of several billion US dollars, according to observers.

The Barzanis have been routinely accused by critics of amassing huge wealth from oil business for the family instead of serving the population.

KDP party leader and ex-president Massoud Barzani remains the most powerful leader in the shadow according to analysts.

Massoud’s son Masrour is the Kurdistan region’s prime minister and his nephew Nechirvan Barzani is president of Kurdistan.

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