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Former Iraqi electricity minister named in new corruption crackdown

[JURIST] A former Iraqi Minister of Electricity was named Saturday as one of a number of former and current officials charged with corruption by Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity [US State Dept. backgrounder; CPA press release] or ordered to appear before Iraqi judges for further investigation. Muhsin Shlash, cited but not yet charged, was an Iraqi exile living in Canada who took over the Ministry of Electricity [official website] in May 2005 as a member of the cabinet of former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The Electricity Ministry has faced immense challenges in restoring Iraq's power system in the wake of the US-led invasion, but has made only limited progress [Spectrum report] despite being the beneficiary of millions of dollars in reconstruction assistance. Shlash was replaced in the portfolio by new Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki earlier this year, who said in one of his first official statements that he would make the fight against corruption a top priority of his government [JURIST report].

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. The New York Times has more.

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