Integrity Board faces challenges to reveal official assets
Kurdish Integrity Board warns the officials to reveal their wealth, if not, they will face trial and legal actions.
The Kurdish Integrity Board has said that many Kurdish officials and leaders have not returned the declaration forms yet to reveal their assets and wealth.
The Board has warned the officials that it will bring the violators to justice in case they do not return the forms soon.
According to the Board, the officials from the Kurdistan Regional Presidency, members of Kurdistan Parliament and officials from the state institutions have not yet returned the forms.
An official who wished to remain anonymous said that the start was so “poor” which means that the officials ignored the official requests of the Board. They apparently broke the rules because they rejected to reveal their assets to the public.
He further stated that it should not be allowed to paralyse the Board, adding that not returning the forms is a huge violation of the regulations.
The Kurdish Integrity Board is directly linked to the Kurdistan Parliament, and it has to oblige the officials to obey the rules and reveal their fortune.
At a press conference in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Head of the Integrity Board Ahmed Anwar announced, following three months, the deadline to return the forms is over. He further announced that the first ring has been hit.
Anwar revealed the number of the officials who returned the declaration forms and revealed their financial assets. He also warned those who have not yet returned the forms that they will be fined.
The integrity law does not exclude or exempt any official or state institution.
Anwar said: “Out of 1080 forms, around 874 forms have been thus far returned. And out of 111 MPs, some 86 members have filled in the forms and returned them.”
According to the official statistics of the Board, at least 31 advisors, out of 56, in the Parliament returned the forms. “The Judicial Council Members have sent back all the forms they had received to declare their assets,” the Board confirmed.
It is worth mentioning that out of 80 forms which sent out to the Kurdistan Presidency, none of them has been returned yet.
The board started distributing the forms at the beginning of February and it took the Board around 20 days to give them out. Hence, the board will be waiting until 20 May to receive all the forms because the officials are allowed to fill in the forms any time during this period.
Head of the Board, Anwar, asked all the officials to return the forms soon, otherwise they will be financially punished, which is not more than IQD 3,000,000.
According to the regulations, those who do not return the declaration forms would be reminded first. In case they do not send them back, then they would be fined. If they show reluctance to respond to the procedures then their superiors would be admonished to suspend the violators from their jobs. The last step, according to the Board, would be to bring them to justice if they still reject to comply.
Regarding the forms sent out to the Kurdistan Presidency, Anwar said : “They received the forms a bit later.”
The officials in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), including the Prime Minister and his Deputy together with the ministers and officials within the Council of Ministers did not receive the forms because when they were distributed in February the Kurdish parties were discussing the cabinet formation.
“The KRG officials will receive the forms when the cabinet is formed,” said Anwar.
Corruption is still one of the most significant snags in the talks between all the Kurdish political parties prior to the formation of the new KRG cabinet.
Almost all the Kurdish parties will focus on decreasing corruption. This is expected to become a hot topic in the next four years of the cabinet, which might be the first powersharing government since the first Kurdish cabinet in 1992.
The next four years might become a nightmare for the corrupt officials because the Board is keen on activating the law that hopefully will trap the wrongdoers.
Despite the Board's implementation of the law, the MPs maintain that the integrity law has to be amended.
"The law has to be amended," says a Kurdistan Islamic Union MP, "especially the provision which is related to the financial punishment for those who do not return the forms."
“The law is needed to be amended to heavily punish the officials who do not return the forms to the Board because the current fine of one to three million Iraqi dinars are not that much for someone who owns lots of properties and wealth,” said the KIU MP.
The MPs added that returning the form is not enough to reveal the wealth of an officials. The Board has to launch a thorough investigation to corroborate the information disclosed in the forms.
The MPs ask the officials in all the three Kurdish power centres , including the KRG Presidency, the Parliament and the Regional Presidency to reveal their assets before any other authorities.
Until now, hundreds of the senior officials have thus far returned the forms. However, the Board might face lots of challenges ahead due to its poor performance in the inception of the campaign. The fact is aggravated by the lack of cooperation of some governmental officials.