January 26, 2018 / 1:17 AM / 23 days ago

Iraq receives ex-trade minister convicted on graft charges from Lebanon

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi authorities on Thursday took into custody a former trade minister convicted in absentia for corruption cases, following his extradition from Lebanon, Iraq’s corruption watchdog said in a statement.

Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany resigned in 2009 and fled the country in connection with graft allegations involving Iraq’s food rations programme, one of the world’s biggest.

Iraq’s Integrity Commission on Thursday evening issued a statement confirming the return of al-Sudany after reaching a deal with the Lebanese authorities late last year allowing the extradition of the ex-trade minister.

“Former trade minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany is now in the integrity commission custody,” the statement said.

The corruption watchdog said Interpol contributed to the arrest of al-Sudany after reaching Beirut in September 2017.

Al-Sudany is wanted for at least nine corruption cases and received eight imprisonment sentences in absentia for graft charges related to food import violations, the corruption watchdog said in the statement.

Iraq is one of the world’s biggest importers of wheat and rice. Several Trade Ministry officials have faced corruption allegations in the past.

The ministry buys hundreds of thousands of tonnes a year of sugar, lentils, grains and other food and basic household goods to supply a national ration programme.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Leslie Adler

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