Kurdistan Integrity Commission: 737 corruption cases since 2016

The Kurdistan Region's main anti-corruption body announced that since 2016, the commission sent 737 corruption cases to the court, and prevented the loss of 17 billion and 79 million IQD form the government's revenue.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region's main anti-corruption body announced on Monday that, since 2016, the commission has referred 737 corruption cases to court and prevented the loss of 17.79 billion IQD (just under $15 million) from the government's revenue.

The figures were released in a statement by the chairman of the Kurdistan Commission of Integrity, Ahmed Anwar. Since 2014, he said, the commission has also investigated 523 high-ranking officials, including ministers and lawmakers, and worked on 83 cases that involved governors, director-generals, and advisors.

The commission estimates that 423.29 billion IQD ($355.7 million) has been lost to corruption in the Kurdistan Region since 2016.

Anwar said that proposed amendments to the law governing the body were submitted to parliament in mid-October, but have not been passed. 

"The Commission of Integrity requires more authority in our mandate to be more effective, in comparison to other countries' investigative units on corruption. We need to remove immunities on officials," he said, adding that a "central approval" needed for cases to go forward "can be a hindrance to the investigations."    

The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masrour Barzani has often stated that fighting corruption is a top priority of his cabinets' plan. "Corruption damages our economy and undermines people's belief in our region," he said in a post on social media.

"On anti-corruption day, I want to reiterate my message from the 100 days speech: I will not accept corruption from any individual or group."    

In July, the Commission of Integrity called on Barzani's cabinet to conduct major reform in the public sector and establish an anti-corruption council to combat graft more actively. 

Read More: Kurdistan watchdog calls KRG to establish anti-corruption council, conduct major reforms

“We ask them to prioritize reform in the government just like they have outlined in their agenda,” Anwar said.

International Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually on Dec. 9 since the passage of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003 in an effort to raise public awareness of the issue.

Editing by John J. Catherine