Electricity Ministry defiant as investigation begins

Ministry denies accusations it failed to prevent fraud, as Shahristani launches investigation that could lead to the minister’s firing.
Iraqi deputy prime minister Hussein al-Shahristani speaks during a press conference in Baghdad on August 8, 2011 where he announced that the Iraqi government is cancelling allegedly improper contracts to expand power provision in Iraq with foreign firms. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD - The Electricity Ministry and its leader, Ra’ad Shalal al-Ani, have denied wrongdoing in a contracting scandal amidst an investigation for allegedly failing to detect egregious fraud in two power construction deals worth about $1.7 billion.

Contrary to widespread media reports, Ani has not been fired, though his job is clearly in danger. Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani blamed Ani’s ministry for signing two contracts without performing basic due diligence, which would have revealed that the companies involved were not qualified to perform the projects.

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