BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The governor of the oil city of Basra has stepped down and gone to Iran after Iraq's anti-corruption body began investigating graft allegations against him, people close to him and officials said on Tuesday.
Majid al-Nasrawi is the highest ranking public figure to come under investigation for alleged corruption since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was elected three years ago, partly on a pledge to fight graft.
Iraq's Integrity Commission on Monday evening issued a statement asking the foreign ministry in Baghdad to ask Iran to repatriate Nasrawi.
A Basra-based politician close to Nasrawi said the accusations against Nasrawi were "politically motivated" by rivals.
"He can travel wherever he likes as long as there are no legal obstacles," the politician said, confirming that Nasrawi had left for Iran. The governor's family declined to comment and the lawyer's association in Basra said he had no known attorney.
Oil-rich Iraq ranks 166st out of 176 nations in Transparency International's Corruption Index.
Graft has exacerbated the effects on the economy of a sharp decline in oil revenue caused by falling crude prices and the costs of fighting Islamic State, which took control of large
parts of northern and western Iraq after 2014.
Fourteen years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled
Saddam Hussein, the country still suffers shortages of
electricity, water, schools and hospitals, and infrastructure has been widely neglected.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Andrew Roche)