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Senior Iraqi Official Rejects Corruption Watchdog's Findings

A stack of currency at a stall in central Baghdad's Fardus Square (file photo)
A stack of currency at a stall in central Baghdad's Fardus Square (file photo)
BAGHDAD -- A senior Iraqi official has criticized as unreliable and lacking in credibility Transparency International's latest annual report, which lists Iraq among the world's most corrupt countries, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Cabinet secretary Ali al-Allaq told RFI after the report was released on December 9 that Transparency International "is not a UN agency and its data is questionable, gleaned by polling tens, not even hundreds of expatriates about corruption in their country."

Al-Allaq said that "we admit to the problem of corruption in Iraq, but we view the criteria applied to measure its extent and the figures cited in this respect with skepticism, especially considering the progress Iraq has made in fighting corruption."

But Judge Abdel Rahim al-Ugaily, who is president of Iraq's anticorruption commission, told RFI that he respects Transparency International and its thorough surveys of corruption in Iraq and other countries.

Al-Ugaily said that Transparency International and its global corruption reports "have had a favorable impact in pressuring the Iraqi government into action and raising public awareness to this scourge." He added that these reports have also been effective in encouraging the local media, the national parliament, and other oversight bodies to highlight the problem.

The Transparency International report listed Iraq as among countries where more than 50 percent of people said they had paid a bribe in the last year.

The chairman of the anticorruption committee in the outgoing parliament, Sabah al-Saadi, told RFI that although corruption is no less harmful than terrorism in seriously hindering development, the government's response has been unsatisfactory.

Al-Saadi said that the government blocked many attempts by the outgoing parliament to question certain officials and initiate proceedings against others.

A so-called integrity academy was inaugurated in Baghdad on December 9, International Anti-Corruption Day, in a demonstration of the government's determination to eradicate corruption.