Iraq's former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had reportedly siphoned off $500bn (£327bn) during his tenure between 2006 and 2014, it has been alleged. The Iraqi Commission of Integrity (CoI) has claimed nearly half of the government's revenues during the eight-year period had been "stolen".
What is being termed as "the greatest political corruption scandal in history", CoI's spokesperson Adil Nouri told the Iraqi parliament that as much as half a trillion dollar funds from the government's coffers have systematically disappeared during al-Maliki's tenure. Nouri said the war-torn country's oil income alone amounted to $800bn between 2006-14. He added the Maliki administration also received aid amounting to $250bn from several countries including the US in these years. The CoI has been tasked with investigating corruption scandals in Iraq.
"[Around] 600 officials including ministers, deputy ministers, advisors, general directors have been sued on grounds of corruption. There are even officials who have been sentenced to 130 years in jail," the Iraqi parliament heard from Nouri. "Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has also been sued for corruption but there is still no solid decision or development so, he is still out of jail."
Iraq is considered as the most corrupt country in the Arab world, according to the latest Transparency International report. There were widespread protests across the country against top government authorities forcing the current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take sweeping measures.
As part of his reforms, he dismissed around 123 high-ranking government ministers and officials in 2014. Meanwhile, al-Maliki, who took over as vice-president after he was expelled as premier, was also sacked in August 2015, when al-Abadi announced another set of political reforms.
In his address to the Iraqi parliament, Nouri pointed out that the defence ministry was the nerve-centre of the massive corruption scandal. He said: "There are a great number of them (ghost employees) in the ministry of interior...There are 57,000 people being paid as workers since 2007, when in fact they have not been to work a single day," according to the Kurdish news agency, Rudaw. "The ministry of defense has started carrying out some procedures to eliminate this kind of corruption. It has been decided to make everyone receive his own salary in person instead of lists."