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Iraqi Officials Suspended For Not Disclosing Personal Finances

Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations Hamid al-Bayati is among those suspended.
Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations Hamid al-Bayati is among those suspended.
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's anticorruption czar says some 90 officials -- including judges, diplomats, and ambassadors -- have been suspended because they failed to submit financial-disclosure statements, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Judge Abd al-Rahim al-Ugaily, the chairman of Iraq's Integrity Commission, told RFE/RL on April 1 that 50 provincial-council members from all over Iraq except for the Kurdish provinces, 25 members of the Supreme Judicial Council, and 12 high-ranking Foreign Ministry officials -- including six ambassadors -- have been suspended from their posts following repeated demands and ultimatums for them to disclose their finances.

Among those suspended are Alberat Edward Yelda, the ambassador to the Vatican; Ghanim Alwan al-Jumaili, the ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and Talib Hamid al-Bayati, Iraq's envoy to the United Nations.

Ugaily said the law required all government officials with a grade of director-general or higher to file periodical reports disclosing information about their finances.

Ugaily pointed out that although such a law was unprecedented in Iraq, there was outstanding response by many in 2009 as a total of 56 state-owned enterprises and government officials achieved 100 percent compliance.

Saad Muttalibi, a political adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told RFE/RL that those suspended are not necessarily corrupt as many of them think the Integrity Commission's financial disclosure form is too intrusive and tantamount to being a violation of their privacy.

He said, for example, that the form asks for a detailed breakdown of the jewelry owned by each official's spouse.

Muttalibi said this rigorous approach is designed to demonstrate how seriously Iraqis take the question of combating corruption and improving their country's image on this issue.

In Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Index, Iraq ranks 167th, above only Sudan, Burma, Afghanistan, and Somalia.