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Lebanon Extradites Iraqi Suspected Of Corruption

Iraqi anticorruption chief Rahim al-Ugaily
Iraqi anticorruption chief Rahim al-Ugaily
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's anticorruption chief says Lebanon has extradited a former Baghdad government official suspected of stealing millions of dollars from the government, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Judge Abdel Rahim al-Ugaily, chairman of the anticorruption commission, told RFI on June 22 that Zina Saud al-Timimi and her mother, brother, sister, and brother-in-law were flown back to Iraq on June 19 after being handed over to Iraqi anticorruption officials in Beirut.

Ugaily added that some $5 million believed to have been stolen by Timimi has been recovered. He said $600,000 is still missing, but the commission has confiscated vehicles and property purchased by Timimi and her relatives equal to that amount.

Ugaily said that in the first five months of 2010, his commission investigated corruption cases involving the theft, misappropriation, or embezzlement of some 117 billion Iraqi dinars ($14.55 million) from the government.

He said that among the forms of fraud and corruption, forgery accounts for 40 percent of the total number of cases, embezzlement about 25 percent, and bribes and kickbacks some 5 percent.

Ugaily said people are often reluctant to report corrupt civil servants and officials for fear of retaliation by the tribe to which the corrupt functionary belongs. As a result, the anticorruption commission finds itself compelled to resort to sting operations.

He pointed out that the anticorruption commission is also having difficulty bringing to account fugitives who have dual citizenship, because the government of their adopted country refuses to hand them over.

Political analyst Hadi Jellou told RFI that political factions are partly to blame and often make the anticorruption commission's work harder by turning their ministries into fiefdoms.