KRG tries to explain away $250m payment by Rosneft to consultant to secure deals in Region

FILE PHOTO: The Rosneft logo on a safety helmet in Vung Tau, Vietnam, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

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SULAIMANI — The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) spokesperson has said that the public prosecutor should launch an investigation into the revelation that Russian state oil company Rosneft paid $250 million to a consultant to secure deals in the Kurdistan Region.

“Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said that the public prosecutor should launch an investigation, and called on all the parties to assist the prosecutor to reveal the truth to people,” KRG Spokesperson Jotiar Adil said on Sunday (March 29).

Rosneft is a major foreign player in the Region’s energy sector with numerous investments and holdings in extraction and infrastructure, including the Region’s oil pipeline. To company advanced the KRG approximately $3 billion in advance for future oil supplies in 2017 and 2018.

Senior KRG officials have made several trips in recent years to Russia in an effort to secure funding and investment.

The payments, which were made during 2017 and 2018 to an unnamed consultant, were revealed in the course of a routine financial disclosure by a Rosneft subsidiary earlier this year.

“From the beginning of the ninth KRG cabinet, resisting corruption and accomplishing transparency in government departments were its priorities, especially in terms of the KRG’s finance and incomes sector, and we will continue doing that,” Adil said in the statement.

The Region’s energy sector is notoriously opaque and senior government and party officials have been dogged by corruption allegations.

Despite KRG Prime Minister Barzani’s protestations to the contrary, little progress has been made to tamp down corruption during the first year of his government. For instance, no major prosecutions for corruption have taken place so far.

Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, ranked 162 out of 180 countries on Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, making it one of the most deeply corrupt in the world.

(NRT Digital Media)