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Iraq says ex-governor embezzled $10 mln in aid for displaced

AFP , Tuesday 30 Jul 2019
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Around $10 million in aid for the displaced in northern Iraq's Nineveh province, where the Islamic State group was based, has been embezzled by its fugitive ex-governor, the country's anti-corruption commission said Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Integrity Commission told AFP that its investigators had uncovered "invoices from developers in Iraqi Kurdistan".

But, he added, "no receipt was found" for these debited sums, which were meant for the rehabilitation of two hospitals in the northern metropolis of Mosul, capital of Nineveh.

Many of the province's inhabitants are still displaced as public services have not been fully reestablished.

Currently, 1.6 million Iraqis are still crowded into camps for the displaced, of which 40 percent are originally from Nineveh, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

A total of 11.3 billion Iraqi dinars ($9.4 million) had been allocated to the Provincial Council by the Ministry of Migration and Displaced, according to the commission.

"It has been debited and doesn't appear in any provincial authorities' bank accounts or in the Provincial Council funds," he said.

"It was transferred to Kurdistan," an autonomous region where the sacked governor of Nineveh, Nawfel Akoub, is thought to be in hiding, along with several other officials wanted by Baghdad.

He has been on the run since a ferry sank in Mosul on Mother's Day in March, killing 150 people.

In April, the commission said that more than $60 million of public funds were diverted by officials close to Akoub from Nineveh's budget of $800 million.

Graft is endemic across Iraq, which ranks among the world's worst offenders in Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

Since 2004, a year after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, almost $250 billion of public funds has vanished into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen, according to parliament.

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