Litany of financial irregularities

Corruption unearthed in 11 billion dinar Basra lighting project

BASRA – The Commission of Integrity has revealed it had uncovered corruption and embezzlement to the tune of 11 billion dinars ($725,000) in a street lighting project in Basra. The project was marred by the rejection of more competitive bids, according to the commission. Additionally, the manager of the maritime agency office at Umm Qasr Port is alleged to have embezzled funds.

According to a statement, the Commission’s Directorate of Investigations in Basra carried out operations to curb the misuse of public funds at the governorate’s Diwan, resulting in the arrest of two individuals for embezzlement at Umm Qasr Port.

The commission’s Government Media and Communication Office reported that the Basra Investigation Directorate’s team, during its visit to the Diwan, discovered irregularities in the bidding process for the street lighting project.

This project, covering the province’s main roads and airport street, was tied to a comprehensive system costing 11 billion dinars. It was found that lower bids were dismissed in favor of a company that was eventually selected for the project, leading to a misallocation of public funds. Furthermore, while the project was initially announced to last 90 days, the contract indicated a duration of 300 days.

The team detained the director of the maritime agency at Umm Qasr Port’s Berth 27 along with the office’s cashier. The former, according to the commission, was found with unexplained funds in his office. The latter was implicated due to a shortfall in the office’s safe. The operation also led to the seizure of cash allegedly received by the cashier without official receipts and 16 undeducted delivery orders. The investigating judge has ordered the detention of the suspects.

Moreover, the team uncovered violations in the Shuaiba water project’s maintenance and rehabilitation work, where the contracted company’s work failed to meet required standards, resulting in pump damage. There were also findings of fraudulent invoicing and forgery in the procurement of materials for the Basra Water Directorate, with purchases from non-existent shops and offices at inflated prices far beyond the actual amount paid.

The Basra Investigation Directorate also noted irregularities in the real estate registration directorate regarding the transfer of property ownership from the Ministry of Finance.