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Tuesday, April 12, 2011     GET REAL

Defense Ministry target of Iraqi corruption probe

BAGHDAD — Iraq has launched an investigation into corruption in the Defense Ministry.


Parliament has been examining allegations of corruption in arms deals conducted by the Defense Ministry over the last three years. The probe was said to have focused on the ministry's plans to purchase the U.S.-origin F-16 multi-role fighter.

"The commission will also examine some of the issues pertaining the Defense Ministry about the death of persons in mysterious circumstances," parliament's Integrity Committee said. "The Integrity Committee is determined to bring those involved in corruption to the Iraqi judiciary even if they were at high levels in the state."

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On April 7, the Integrity Committee said it acquired evidence of corruption in the F-16 project. In January, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a deal to purchase 18 F-16 Block 52+ aircraft, a decision rescinded by Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.

Committee member Aliya Nassif said the Defense Ministry was cooperating in the investigation. Nassif said the ministry's inspector-general as well as the Office of Financial Supervision were examining the F-16 and other military procurement projects.

"The Integrity Committee in the parliament put a timetable to open the files of the Iraqi ministries to investigate the administrative and financial corruption, and all ministries were placed within the table, without exception," Nassif said.

The committee said it examined more than 9,000 documents regarding government corruption. The cases included reconstruction, aircraft procurement and the acquisition of equipment meant to detect improvised explosive devices.

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