How Corruption Erodes Healthcare in Iraq

By Mac Skelton and Abdulameer Mohsin Hussein, for the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

Medicine Under Fire - How Corruption Erodes Healthcare in Iraq

The April and July 2021 hospital fires in Nasiriya and Baghdad left hundreds dead, adding insult to injury for a medical system that had already buckled under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why did these deadly fires transpire?

In the media, journalists highlighted a lengthy series of contributing factors leading to the tragedy, including flimsy and highly flammable construction materials, the explosion of mismanaged oxygen tanks, electrical shorts, and a lack of fire safety equipment.

Underlying these defects, ordinary Iraqis pointed to a deeper cause: pervasive corruption in the healthcare sector. Corruption, they alleged, explained why it was that an oil-rich country had not built and maintained safe and secure health facilities.

This preliminary paper looks to the tragic phenomenon of mass-casualty hospital fires in Iraq's COVID-19 wards to kickstart a larger policy-oriented conversation on the political drivers, key mechanisms, and human costs of corruption in the healthcare sector.

Broadly speaking, the research contends that political parties in control of the healthcare system compromise the safety and efficacy of both public and private hospitals by systematically evading quality controls and maximizing profits from medical supply chains at all costs.

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung)

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Unaoil Bribery Conviction Quashed

By John Lee.

Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has had his conviction for bribery quashed by the UK's Court of Appeal today (Friday).

He had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment in July 2020 having been found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55-million contract to supply offshore mooring buoys in Iraq.

The court found that the refusal by Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to provide key documents to the defence was "a serious failure by the SFO to comply with their duty," adding that "that failure was particularly regrettable given that some of the documents had a clear potential to embarrass the SFO in their prosecution of this case."

Paul Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), which was a client of Unaoil, had his request for leave to appeal against his sentence denied.

The full judgement can be read here.

 More here, here and here.

(Source: England and Wales Court of Appeal - Criminal Division)

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First Women’s Protection Centre in Diwaniyah

The Governorate of Diwaniyah and UNFPA inaugurated today the first Women Protection Centre in the Governorate, with funding from Canada and Sweden.

The Centre will offer psychosocial and legal assistance,  medical counselling and protection for survivors of gender-based violence. Women and girls will be able to benefit from special programmes on empowerment, life skills and livelihood education.

The inauguration was attended by Mr Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, Governor of Diwaniyah,  Dr Yousra Al-Allak, Head of Women Empowerment Department and Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, as well as representatives from the civil society and women-led organisations.

Speaking at the event, the Governor highlighted the centre's importance to women and girls in Diwaniyah:

"Women play an important role in our society. Diwaniyah is proud to establish a centre that provides a comprehensive package of services for survivors of gender-based violence. When women are protected and provided with the right tools, they can thrive."

For his part, Dr Yousra Al-Allak reiterated:

"Establishing a Protection Women Centre is a very good first step. However, to ensure the proper development of Iraq, we need legislation that protects women and girls from gender-based violence and ensures their rights are preserved".

In her speech, Dr Columbia emphasised the importance of safe spaces for women and girls survivors of any form of violence. She thanked the local authorities, Women Empowerment Department and civil society for their efforts to prevent and respond to GBV.  She called on other governorates to follow this example to take concrete steps towards eliminating gender-based violence in Iraq.

Speeches also called the Parliament to adopt the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and endorse the legal framework for gender-based violence service provision and protection of women.

(Source: UN)

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IBBC’s Autumn Conference – Open for Business Engagement

IBBC's Autumn conference is back with a bang and open for business engagement.

On 22nd November this year the overarching conference topic is looking to the future with 'sustainability'- whether in terms of energy and renewables, the Iraqi economy and its diversification, or sustaining finance, logistics and training. Underpinning much of this is the application of technology and modernising ways to run a successful economy, with the tech forum's online sessions.

With a successful election now completed and a new government being formed, it's a good time to discuss the prospects for reform and sustainability.

IBBC members find that the Autumn conference is probably the best forum to meet the leaders in the region and those engaged with provision of supply chains and decision making. Many of Iraq's industry sectors have regional headquarters in Dubai, which enables the high turnout and interest in the networking opportunities.

The current speaker line-up is probably the best for some years, featuring the Iraqi Minster of Oil H.E. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael giving a keynote speech, H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade. Dr Salem Chalabi, President and Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq, Iraqi Ambassador to the UAE H.E. Mudaffar Mustafa Al Jubouri and UK ambassador Mr Mark Bryson-Richardson, Mr Simon Penny, UK's Consul General and Trade Commissioner for the region, and top academic Professor Frank Gunter on the economic outlook for Iraq.

For those engaged with energy, Mr Zaid Elyaseri from BP will be speaking, and Dunia Chalabi will be representing new Iraqi entrants Total, who have signed contracts to invest USD 27 billion in and plan to bring in hundreds of expatriates into Iraq to develop the Ar-Ratawi oil field and build gas capture, solar power and injection water facilities. Leading figures from Oilserve, Ms Sara Akbar, and Hydro-C, Mr Hassan Heshmat, will discuss sustainable energy, and a separate session will be voted to Basrah Gas Company.

The Finance panel includes a stella line up with Emirates Credit Insurance Co, Standard Chartered Bank and IFC. Mr Aziz Khudairi heads the Industry panel and a significant group including Martrade and IBBC Autumn Conference Principal Sponsor Sardar Group.

Finally, and in parallel, an online Tech forum session on Data and its benefits to Government, Economies, business, and citizens, will include speakers from UK's GDS, British Water, Agri-epicentre, Serco and Mastercard with more to be confirmed.

Overall, the panels will be exploring in more detail how to ensure the current high oil and gas prices can bring investment and rebalance the economy and promote and develop agriculture and enhance the food chain to increase employment and reduce food poverty. These discussions will also address how to improve the water supply and waste reduction and consider the role of clean power generation in relation to climate change and initiatives to improve sustainability.

We look forward to welcoming you to Dubai, or even following us online if you are unable to make it in person.

A pre-conference reception will be held at the Iraqi Pavilion at Dubai EXPO2020 in the evening of 21st November.

Finally, we'd very much like to thank our sponsors: Principal Sponsor Sardar Group, Gold Sponsor: Hydro-C, Silver Sponsor: Serco and Reception Sponsor: Basra Gateway Terminal

(Source: IBBC)

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Petrofac Fined $105m; Shares Rally Futher

By John Lee.

Shares in Petrofac were trading up more than 7 percent on Monday, as the company was ordered to pay GBP 77 million [$105 million] after the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured further convictions in its investigation into bribery and corruption at the Jersey-registered energy services company.

On Friday, Petrofac Limited pleaded guilty to seven separate counts of failing to prevent bribery between 2011 and 2017.

Petrofac Limited admitted that it failed to prevent former senior executives of the Petrofac Group from paying GBP 32 million (USD 44 million) in bribes, to help the Petrofac Group win over GBP 2.6 billion (USD 3.5 billion) of contracts in the oil and gas industry in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Court heard how, over a period of six years, senior executives within the Petrofac Group engaged in elaborate schemes to corrupt the awarding of contracts, using agents to systematically bribe officials to win lucrative contracts by unfair and dishonest means.

A key feature of the case was the complex and deliberately opaque methods used by these senior executives to pay agents across borders, disguising payments through sub-contractors, creating fake contracts for fictitious services and, in some cases, passing bribes through more than one agent and one country, to disguise their actions.

Lisa Osofsky, Director, Serious Fraud Office, said:

"By pleading guilty, Petrofac Limited has accepted that senior executives within the Petrofac Group acted deliberately and without conscience in the pursuit of greed. The company's failure to prevent this conduct distorted competitive market conditions and tainted the oil and gas industry.

"Today's result should serve as a warning; the SFO will use all the powers at its disposal to root out and prosecute companies and individuals, whose criminal activity detrimentally affects the reputation and integrity of the United Kingdom.

"The SFO welcomes Petrofac Limited taking responsibility for its conduct."

This is the third set of convictions secured by the SFO in its four-year investigation into cross-border corruption at the Petrofac Group. David Lufkin, former Head of Sales at Petrofac pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery in 2019 and 3 counts of bribery in 2021.

Lufkin was today sentenced to a two-year custodial sentence, which was suspended for 18 months. In addition to pleading guilty, David Lufkin co-operated with SFO investigators and assisted with the investigation.

The SFO continues to investigate this case.

Petrofac Chairman René Médori said:

"This draws a line under a regrettable period of our history. We have taken responsibility, reformed and learned from these past mistakes, as acknowledged by the SFO and the Court. Most importantly, the extensive work that we have done since the SFO investigation began means that the Petrofac of today has a comprehensive compliance and governance regime that meets or exceeds international best practice.

"The past behaviour uncovered by the SFO would not be possible today, and we look to the future a better and more focused company, well positioned to capitalise on the opportunities we see before us."

(Sources: SFO, Petrofac)

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Petrofac Shares Jump following Iraq Bribery Plea Agreement

By John Lee.

Petrofac shares closed the day up more than 26 percent on Friday, after the company announced that it has reached a plea agreement with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in relation to bribery in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Company indicated guilty pleas to seven counts of failing to prevent former Petrofac group employees from offering or making payments to agents in relation to projects awarded between 2012 and 2015 in Iraq, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, contrary to Section 7 of the UK Bribery Act 2010. These offers or payments were made between 2011 and 2017.

It added that all employees involved in the charges have left the business.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place at Southwark Crown Court commencing on Monday 27 September 2021. The Company will make a further announcement following sentencing or any adjournment.

In a statement to the markets, Group Chief Executive Sami Iskander said:

"With my new management team we are rebuilding the company into a new Petrofac that's relevant for the future, across both traditional and new energies, built on a foundation of the highest ethical standards."

(Sources: Petrofac, SFO)

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Agreement to Support Women in Qadisiyah

UNFPA and Qadisiyah Governorate signed a cooperation agreement on Tuesday to scale up the support to girls and women in the governorate.

The agreement signed by Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative, and Mr Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, the Governor of Qadisiyah will ensure that women and girls have access to protection and proper services to respond to gender-based violence.

In addition, it will provide the Directorates of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, and Interior (Family Protection Unit) with the opportunity to strengthen their expertise on service delivery to survivors to deal with gender-based violence.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Al-Shaalan emphasised the governorate's full support to work with UNFPA to ensure the success of the project to provide quality service to women and girls. He also reiterated the governorate's efforts to enhance the role of women and girls, increase equality in leadership roles and become a unique model for active communities to contribute to the development process.

Dr Columbia thanked the Governor for supporting the needs and rights of women and girls in Qadisiyah:

"On behalf of UNFPA Iraq, I welcome this initiative and look forward to our joint actions to protect women and girls from violence and provide them with so much needed services."

The cooperation agreement between UNFPA and the Governorate is within the UNFPA 2020-2024 Country Programme Document and the Memorandum of Understanding between UNFPA and the Government of Iraq, through the Ministry of Planning.

(Source: UN)

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Video: COVID and Security Concerns over Ashura in Iraq

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Preparations are under way in Karbala to mark Ashoura, a Shia Muslim commemoration.

People have started heading to the city despite concerns about security and COVID-19.

Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed reports from Karbala:

The post Video: COVID and Security Concerns over Ashura in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraq, Jordan and Egypt agree Energy Projects

By John Lee.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for a fresh round of talks aimed at strengthening cooperation between the countries.

It is the first visit by an Egyptian head of state to Iraq since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The leaders agreed on the importance of the electrical interconnector project between the three countries, and linking the gas transmission networks between Iraq and Egypt through Jordan.

They also pushed for the completion of the Basra-Aqaba crude oil pipeline, which will provide a new outlet for the export of Iraqi oil through Jordan.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Rise in Iraqi Cancers may be linked to Wars, Environment

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Rise in Iraqi cancer cases may be linked to wars, environment

The causes of the spike may be linked to Iraq's wars or environmental pollution, but the evidence is sketchy.

Click here to read the full story.

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