Iraq’s anti-corruption commission said on Monday it has recovered $1 billion in money stolen from state coffers in the first six months of the year, in its latest efforts to stem corruption.
The Integrity Commission said 857 arrest warrants had been issued against government officials, of whom 407 had been detained.
Graft is endemic across Iraq, which ranks as the 12th most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Since 2004, a year after the US-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, almost $250 billion of public funds has vanished into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen, according to parliament.
That amount is twice the government’s budget and more than the country’s GDP.
The anti-corruption commission has been struggling to track down money siphoned off from state coffers, including funds earmarked to rebuild the country devastated by decades of conflict.
Last week, it said around $10 million in aid for the displaced in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province, where ISIS was based, had been embezzled by its fugitive ex-governor Nawfel Akoub.
In April, it had said more than $60 million dollars in public funds were embezzled by officials in Mosul — the capital of Nineveh — close to Akoub, who was sacked in the wake of a ferry sinking that killed 150 people.