Iraq probes possible corruption in $6bn refinery deal

An Iraqi parliamentary committee has asked the Arab country’s anti-corruption body to investigate a contract awarded recently to a Swiss company to build a refinery at a cost of $ six billion, a local news network has reported.

The integrity committee in the parliament said it had sent a letter to the commission of integrity asking it to open investigation into the deal which was signed in October between the oil ministry and Satarem of Switzerland to construct and operate a 150,000-bpd refinery in the southern province of Maysan, Shafaq News said.

“We sent a letter to the commission of integrity on December 16 asking to investigate reports received by the parliamentary integrity committee that the contract signed with the Swiss company involved administrative and financial corruption,” the network quoted the committee’s chairman Baha Al Araji as saying.

He did not mention the sources of reports but said they spoke of what he described as “shortcomings” committed by Iraq’s deputy premier for energy Hussain al-Shahristani.

Shafaq News said the issue was reported last month by some local newspapers which accused senior oil ministry officials of involvement in malpractices in the refinery contract, adding that the ministry has denied the accusations.

It said the parliamentary integrity committee debated the issue at the request of Maysan’s governing council and that the parliament’s oil and energy panel is still investigating alleged corruption in the contract.

Iraq has been locked in a USD multi-billion programme to develop its upstream and downstream oil sector, with plans to build four new refineries to nearly double production to around 1.5 million bpd.

 

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