Iraq says more than $60 mn stolen from Mosul after governor sacked

A man rides a motorcycle among devastated buildings in the old city of Mosul, in northern Iraq on April 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2019

Iraq says more than $60 mn stolen from Mosul after governor sacked

  • Officials from the Nineveh province had embezzled a total of $64 million in public funds

BAGHDAD: More than $60 million dollars in public funds were embezzled by Mosul officials close to the province’s sacked governor in the wake of last month’s ferry sinking, Iraqi officials said Monday.
Iraq’s anti-corruption Integrity Commission said officials from the Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, had embezzled a total of $64 million in public funds.
They included nearly $40 million set aside to rebuild the city, which was ravaged by three years of Daesh group rule followed by months of fierce fighting to oust the jihadists.
The money was stolen in the aftermath of a tragic ferry sinking in March that left more than 100 people dead and prompted parliament to unanimously fire governor Nawfel Akoub, who has since gone on the run.
In its Monday statement, the Integrity Commission said officials “close to Akoub” had stolen the funds but did not accuse him personally.
It said 14 officials were detained earlier this month after its probe found that “cheques and wire transfers of public funds had been made out to the personal accounts of senior officials.”
Of the missing money, “just six million dollars” were recovered by the government, a commission member told AFP.
Parliament had been investigating accusations of profound corruption among Nineveh officials, and their results came to light amid outrage over the Mother’s Day ferry sinking.
Some officials have been arrested but Akoub remains at large, thought to be hiding out in Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region.
Graft is endemic across Iraq, which ranks among the world’s worst offenders in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index.
Since 2004, a year after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, a total of $228 billion has vanished into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen, according to parliament.


Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

Updated 11 min 34 sec ago

Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

  • New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths
  • Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing

DUBAI: A wedding party contributed to a new surge in coronavirus infections in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday but insisted the country had no option but to keep its economy open despite warnings of a second wave of the epidemic.
Iran, which has been gradually relaxing its lockdown since mid-April, has reported a sharp rise of new daily infections in recent days. Thursday’s toll of 3,574 new cases was the highest since February, when the outbreak was first reported.
“At one location, we witnessed a peak in this epidemic, the source of which was a wedding that caused problems for the people, health workers and losses to the economy and the country’s health system,” Rouhani said on state TV. He did not say when or where the wedding took place.
New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths.
Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing. One official said about 70% of the new cases in Tehran were among those who had traveled outside the capital in recent days.
Iran has been struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19 but authorities are concerned that measures to limit public and economic life to contain the virus could wreck an already economy already reeling under international sanctions.
“In these circumstances, we have no other choice — that is, there is no second option,” Rouhani added. “We have to work, our factories have to be active, our shops have to be open, and there has to be movement in the country as far as it is necessary.”
Iranian universities reopened on Saturday after being closed for more than three and a half months, state media reported. Nurseries will reopen in a week’s time, when Qur'an and languages classes will also resume, Rouhani said.