12/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Iraq Dismisses Oversight Officials Despite Soaring Corruption

BAGHDAD -- The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is systematically dismissing oversight officials who were installed to fight corruption in Iraqi ministries by order of the American occupation administration, which had hoped to bring Western standards of accountability to the notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy here.

The dismissals, which were confirmed by senior Iraqi and American government officials on Sunday and Monday, come as estimates of official Iraqi corruption soar. One Iraqi former chief investigator recently testified before Congress that $13 billion in reconstruction funds from the United States has been lost to fraud, embezzlement, theft and waste by Iraqi government officials.

The moves have not been publicly announced by Mr. Maliki's government, but word of them has begun to circulate through the layers of Iraqi bureaucracy as Parliament prepares to vote on the long-awaited security agreement. That pact sets the terms for continued American presence here after the United Nations mandate expires Dec. 31, but also amounts to a framework for a steady reduction in the scale of that presence. Such a change will undoubtedly lessen American oversight of Iraqi institutions.

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