RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco named a former prime minister and prominent businessman as head of the country’s court of audit to replace Ahmed Midaoui, who has put public finances and state firmsunder an unprecedented degree of scrutiny.
Official media said on Friday that King Mohammed had appointed Driss Jettou to replace Midaoui, who has been at the helm of the body, called Cours des Comptes, since 2003. It did not elaborate.
Many Moroccans complain that nepotism and corruption are widespread in their country. Morocco was 80th in Transparency International’s ranking of least corrupt states in 2011, lagging immediate economic rivals such as Tunisia and Jordan.
A non-partisan, Jettou is widely seen as an able technocrat. His 2002-2007 tenure as prime minister saw Morocco post some its strongest growth rates to date.
Owner of one of Morocco’s biggest shoe-making firms, Jettou was the top financier of King Mohammed’s during the early years of his reign. Jettou then represented Siger, which groups the main business interests of the Moroccan royal family and controls National Investment Co (SNI), the country’s biggest private conglomerate.
His appointment follows recent reports by the court that found evidence of graft, corruption and insider trading in state-owned firms and entities, putting to the test a government promise to end such practices.
The court’s reports prompted authorities this year to jail a former executive of mortgage lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier, indirectly controlled by the state, and a former executive of state-run airports authority ONDA, state media reported.
“The Court of Audit had been an empty shell, a redundant entity until Midaoui took over in 2003. The court has never been as active as it was under his mandate,” said Ahmed el-Bouz, political science lecturer at Rabat’s King Mohammed V University.
“Jettou has the reputation of a technocrat who enjoys the trust of the monarchy. It will be interesting how he will interact with the Islamist government,” he added.
The Justice and Development Party became in December the first opposition Islamist party to take the helm of a government in Morocco after it won an early election under the slogan “Fighting graft together”. Party officials said they can add 2 percent to annual economic growth by fighting corruption.