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Iraqi court orders ‘corrupt’ bank manager to pay back $8 mln

A court in Basra gave a three-year prison sentence to a bank manager and ordered her to pay more than $8 million over graft charges

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A criminal court in southern Iraq on Sunday gave a three-year prison sentence to a bank manager and ordered her to pay more than $8 million over graft charges, a local news website reported.

Judge Adel Abdulrazaq, the head of appeals at the Basra court said in a statement reported by the independent Al-Sumaria News that “the criminal court in Basra specialized with corruption cases, looked into the case of a manager for one of the branches of Rafidain Bank for giving loans violating standards.”

He said “up to 9 billion and 316 million dinars [$7.9 million]” of “public money was wasted by permitting these loans.”

Al-Sumaria News said the case is one of the latest examples of a two-year old move by authorities to curb corruption in Basra, a resource-rich city and the country’s gateway to the Arabian Gulf.

Observers have long criticized deep-entrenched corruption and mismanagement in wasting Iraq’s money after the toppling of late President Saddam Hussein by US-led forces in 2003.

One Iraqi government official said a decade ago that as much as $300 billion had been lost to corruption since Saddam’s toppling.

The Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Bahaa al-Aaraji said in August 2015 that the former government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had wasted around $1 trillion of public funds.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to eliminate corruption at political levels. However, he is yet to achieve his goal of creating a cabinet made up of technocrats.

Abadi is still struggling to fully implement reforms he pledged to enact when he sworn in as new premier in September 2014, bringing the wrath of Iraqi protesters led by firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

On Saturday, Iraqi forces killed at least two protesters while defending Baghdad’s Green Zone, officials said, as the troubled country’s leaders warned against further escalation.