Iraq PM fires trade minister wanted for graft

Malas Abdulkarim al-Kasnazani was dismissed because he did not fulfill his duties as a trade minister in over a month

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sacked his trade minister, wanted on corruption charges since October, for failing to show up for work, his office said Wednesday.

A statement said Malas Abdulkarim al-Kasnazani was dismissed “because he has not fulfilled his duties as trade minister in over a month and is considered to have resigned”.

Kasnazani and his brother were slapped with an arrest warrant in October “on charges of financial corruption”, according to the Iraqi judiciary’s spokesman.

Iraqi media reports said Kasnazani is suspected of awarding contracts without tenders to firms linked to his Jordan-based brother Nehru, a wealthy businessman who once had presidential aspirations.

Kasnazani could not be reached for comment Wednesday and is widely believed to have left Iraq.

His father, a Kurd who once ran a militia backed by former president Saddam Hussein to oppose peshmerga rebels, is the leader of the largest Sufi order in Iraq, the Kasnazani order.

Kasnazani is the highest-ranking official to be targeted by an arrest warrant since Abadi promised a crackdown on graft in August.

The embattled premier, facing mounting popular discontent and large-scale protests, announced a number of measures aimed at curbing corruption and official privileges.

Abadi, who has been systematically undermined by rivals from within his own bloc, has since come under renewed criticism for failing to push their implementation.

Wednesday’s statement made no mention of the pending warrant against the trade minister.