31 May 2009

Former trade minister arrested on corruption charges

5:34 am on 31 May 2009

Iraq's former trade minister has been arrested at Baghdad airport on corruption charges as he was trying to leave the country.

Officials say Abdul Falah Sudani was on a flight to the United Arab Emirates that was asked to turn back to Baghdad so he could be arrested.

Sudani's resignation as minister was announced on Monday. He had previously been questioned by parliament about Iraq's food rationing programme.

The trade ministry has an annual budget of almost $US6 billion that provides a monthly public food distribution programme. It also manages the import of grain, seeds and construction materials.

The Commission on Public Integrity announced on Wednesday that 997 officials are being investigated for suspected graft. It said 120 Iraqis were arrested for corruption in April and May.