Graft, corruption found in Morocco public sector

Reuters, Friday 30 Mar 2012

Moroccan supreme court reveals that the country's bourse watchdog had not properly investigated cases of insider trading involving five individuals that netted them gains of close to $30 million

Thousand rallied in Morocco in 2011 demanding reforms (Photo: Reuters)

An audit court has found evidence of graft, corruption and insider trading in Morocco's state-owned firms and entities, putting to the test a government promise to end such practices.

The Supreme Court of Audit's latest probe revealed that bourse watchdog CDVM had not properly investigated cases of insider trading involving five individuals that netted them gains of close to $30 million between July, 2006 and January 2007.

The report, published late on Wednesday on the official gazette, also revealed that foreign exchange regulator Office des Changes had imposed what the report found were lenient fines on unauthorised outflows of foreign currencies from the North African country, whose dirham currency is not convertible.

It also said mismanagement at some state-run firms, including flag carrier Royal Air Maroc and the National Ports Authority, had reached such a scale that the state was losing tens of millions of dirhams in undue benefits paid to executives and the non-collection of payments.

A copy of the report was submitted to King Mohammed, the gazette said, without mentioning the date.

(Full text of the report in French with comments of audited firms and administrations: here)

Morocco has not had a revolution of the kind seen in Egypt, Libya or Tunisia. King Mohammed is still firmly in charge after he offered to trim his powers and allowed moderate Islamists to lead the government after their Justice and Development Party (PJD) won a November election.

The report is the court's first since the king, to sidestep mass protests last year, floated reforms that should give parliament greater oversight in the management of public affairs and make the judiciary more independent.

Communication Minister Mustafa El-Khalfi on Thursday told reporters the government is determined to implement the recommendations of court's report.

"This government is under greater pressure than predecessors to follow the (Audit Court) report with actions," said Ali Anouzla, a political analyst and editor of the independent news portal

"PJD raised the slogan of good governance and fighting graft and now leads the government and controls the justice ministry. It should therefore be able to ensure that this report does not end up as ink on paper, as happened with previous reports by the court," he added.

PJD won the election on the back of promises to cut corruption and tackle inequalities. Party officials said they can add 2 per cent to annual economic growth by fighting corruption.

Morocco ranks 80th in Transparency International's ranking of 178 countries by their perceived level of corruption, below Tunisia and Saudi Arabia and above some European countries such as Bulgaria and Serbia. 

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