DUBAI: The United Kingdom imposed sanctions on Thursday against the former governor of the Iraqi province of Nineveh, Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan, as part of its global anti-corruption regime.
The announcement said that Al-Sultan was "involved in serious corruption in his role as Governor of Nineveh province, Iraq, where he misappropriated public funds intended for reconstruction efforts to provide support for civilians, and improperly awarded contracts and other state property."
Al-Sultan is currently serving a combined five-year prison sentence in Iraq for corruption offences, including squandering 5 billion Iraqi dinars (approximately $3.4 million) through bogus public works.
The US welcomed the UK’s announcement. “We commend the UK’s actions today against four corrupt individuals already designated by the United States and a fifth whose US-based assets purchased with corrupt proceeds were successfully forfeited in US courts,” the State Department said.
“Corruption has a corrosive effect on society: it undermines democratic institutions, hinders economic development, drains the wealth of nations, and keeps people in poverty,” the department's spokesperson added.
Iraq’s parliament removed Al-Sultan from office after a ferry accident in March 2019 in Nineveh province’s capital Mosul.
Almost 100 people were killed when the ferry, loaded to five times its capacity, sank as it carried families to an island on the Tigris River.
In a letter to members of parliament after the ferry accident, the then Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi accused Al-Sultan of negligence and dereliction of duty.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said new sanctions were also being imposed against four other individuals involved in serious corruption in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.
“One of those designated spent millions of misappropriated funds on mansions, private jets and a $275,000 glove that Michael Jackson wore on his “Bad” tour, another ruthlessly exploited public food programs in Venezuela,” Britain's Foreign Secretary said.
The UK will impose asset freezes and travel bans against the five individuals to ensure they will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country.
Nineveh province suffered devastation during the time it was occupied by Daesh and the fight to liberate it from the terrorist organisation in 2017.
Incomplete reconstruction of the province and its capital Mosul continues to undermine stability in these areas and is hindering the recovery of vulnerable populations affected by Daesh’s occupation.