[JURIST] New Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki [BBC profile] has announced he will focus on fighting corruption, which Iraqi and US officials say is rampant in the government. The problem is a long-standing one, but documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times indicate that it has become pervasive, manifested in everything from government contracts to the purchase of grades by students. Judge Radhi Al-Radhi [US DOD OIG profile], chief of Iraq's independent Commission on Public Integrity [US State Dept. backgrounder], alleges that the government has squandered close to $1 billion on questionable weapons expenses and that the Interior Ministry pays $1.3 million a month to about 1,100 ghost employees.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged in testimony [PDF] before the US Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] in February that corruption is a serious problem in Iraq [JURIST report]. In October 2005, Stuart Bowen, the Defense Department Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, said in a report to Congress that corruption was costing Iraq billions of dollars each year [JURIST report] and that it was it was crucial that the US support new anti-corruption agencies in the country. In June 2005, former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari [BBC profile] declared that he would fight the "administrative corruption" [JURIST report] in Iraq's government. The Los Angeles Times has more.