The Tajik Anti-corruption Agency said on October 3 that a top government investment official had been caught red-handed taking a $490,000 bribe in return for providing profitable assistance to poultry producers. Askar Nuralizoda, head of the Economic Development Ministry's department for investments, accepted the cash bribe in a restaurant in Dushanbe on September 28, the agency alleged.
While Tajikistan is known for its rampant corruption, few top officials actually get caught or arrested for graft. However, the authorities launched an anti-corruption crackdown on officials and ex-officials in April. Somewhat ironically, it resulted in the arrest of 10 top investigators and officials of the Anti-corruption Agency.
It should also be noted that corruption in the Central Asian republics is often used as an excuse for arresting officials who may have displeased the authorities for unrelated reasons. Some believe the crackdowns are an attempt by the ruling Rahmon family to consolidate power in the presidential republic. President Emomali Rahmon has served as leader of mountainous, landlocked Tajikistan since 1992, having won four terms of office.
Investigators found $10,000 in Nuralizoda's home, a statement from the Tajik Anti-corruption Agency added.
Nuralizoda allegedly requested a $1mn bribe in all plus a three-room apartment from a resident of Tajikistan’s Jaloliddini Balhi district. In exchange, the official was to include the development of poultry production in the district in the 2016-2020 state investment programme, it is claimed.
The authorities in September pressed corruption charges against a former top officer at the Anti-corruption Agency, Firuz Holmurodzoda. He was sentenced to a 15-year prison term. In July, the Supreme Court sentenced a former Anti-corruption Agency deputy director, Davlatbek Hairzoda, and an ex-deputy chief of the customs service in Sughd Province, Faridun Benazirzoda, to 10-year terms.
Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016, released in January this year, concluded that there was last year an “overall stagnation” in Central Asia’s corruption levels.