What is the fate of Iraqi money smuggled abroad?
Economy News - Baghdad
Iraqi money smuggled abroad has always been the focus of Iraqi attention, but it has increased in the recent period with the exacerbation of the financial problem that the country is going through, until it has generally become the focus of attention and a major demand for Iraqis, with the large size of these funds and the possibility of providing radical solutions to the great financial impasse. in Iraq.
High defendants and a political system that provides protection
Observers describe the state of corruption that the country has been experiencing for several years as being conducted by political agreement to share the country's capabilities through the ruling political class, while observers exclude that the current government or any other government will settle those files and recover smuggled money or arrest the main ones involved in them.
Perhaps the first of these operations was through the Minister of Defense in the first government of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who fled the country with about one billion dollars, and Iraqi courts have sentenced him to seven years in prison, but he is still outside Iraq as well as not recovering that money.
In addition to the Minister of Defense, there are many ministers, heads of bodies and officials who are accused or those who have been judged in corruption cases of billions of dollars, most notably the former Minister of Electricity, Ayham al-Samarrai, who escaped from prison outside the country.
Anti-corruption officials reveal that an official request from Iraq was submitted to the United States earlier to retrieve al-Samarrai based on the legal and judicial cooperation agreement between Baghdad and Washington, but the American side did not respond to these calls because al-Samurai holds American citizenship.
The deep state and the victims of opening those files
What reinforces the belief in the large size of corruption in Iraq is the amount of money that has been smuggled abroad as a result of systematic corruption operations that have been administered over the past years,
as some estimates from former officials in Iraqi anti-corruption institutions reach that the amount of smuggled money reaches the limits of 600 billion dollars,
while Deputies in the Parliamentary Finance Committee and economists estimated the amount of money smuggled abroad at about $350 billion.
Member of the Finance Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, Representative Jamal Cougar, said, "Official figures for the amount of smuggled funds are not available, but estimates range from $250 billion to $350 billion, as mentioned by former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in one of the discussions of the three presidencies."
And he adds, "So far, Iraq does not have a mechanism in the context of retrieving those funds, and we have not seen a real will to open this file," ruling out that Iraq will witness real movement in this context in the near future.
Cougar notes that what is preventing the move to resolve this file is the fact that "the political actors who smuggled away that money are still in power and represent the deep state."
He points out that "anyone who opens this file will be a victim, as happened with the prominent politician Ahmed Chalabi and other integrity judges and others."
He continues, "This file is still dead because it is a political file par excellence and needs strong will and real mechanisms from the Iraqi government," noting that the Iraqi government is weaker than the parties, and this is the main obstacle to resolving this file.
The Iraqi MP believes that the most appropriate mechanism for resolving the file of smuggled funds is through "handing over the file to international companies specialized in this field."
On the internationalization of corruption files and smuggled money, Cougar explains that "the Iraqi government has so far been unwilling to move in this context and does not have a real will, despite Western countries showing their willingness to cooperate," adding,
"On the other hand, there are countries that are involved with corrupt politicians and will work to undermine Those endeavors."
Cougar concludes, "We have put forward several steps in this context, the first of which relates to exempting those involved from legal prosecution in exchange for returning these funds, and giving a percentage to informants of corruption money, yet there is no real will in the context of moving to resolve this file."
Corruption protection of the political system
On the other hand, the former head of the Integrity Commission, Judge Rahim Al-Ugaili, estimates that the amount of money smuggled abroad is about “600 billion dollars, because most of the corruption money is smuggled abroad,” indicating that
“this volume of money is added to corruption money from outside the country's general budget, which It will reach the limits of another $600 billion by seizing the internal state resources, including state real estate, natural resources and other aspects."
Al-Aqili pointed out that "the threats and pressures that are exerted on the agencies concerned with combating corruption are boundless, but the pressures that lead to results are those that are exerted on the judges, who do not enjoy security or job protection."
The main focus for resolving this problem is not exceptional solutions, but rather strategic and institutional solutions that adopt stable and continuous rules.
He concludes that "the pillars of combating corruption are not limited to the investigative tasks and prosecution of the accused.
There are steps that are no less important, such as imposing transparency as soon as everything is revealed in relation to corruption."
Influential people involved, and official procedures are absent
It seems that what complicates the resolution of this large file, which testifies to the great corruption of the current political era, is the involvement of influential figures and parties in these files, in addition to the failure of official tools to initiate internal procedures to prosecute the major accused and then start to approach external authorities to recover these funds.
On the other hand, Abd al-Rahman al-Mashhadani, professor of economics at the Iraqi University, explains that "the return of smuggled funds requires at least five years, in addition to the necessity to institute legal cases against the accused inside Iraq and then go to foreign countries to seize those funds," indicating that this task "Not easy."
He adds, "Estimates on these funds vary, but they are mostly estimated at 350 billion dollars, despite the existence of other estimates up to 600 billion dollars."
Regarding the government's actions in this regard, Al-Mashhadani believes that "this file requires initiation of steps inside Iraq, and then the formation of an international lawyers team to follow up the file externally."
Al-Mashhadani points to an easier proposal related to "the possibility that the public prosecution team may file cases against those involved in corruption in the countries in which those funds are kept for seizure," adding that "this procedure will limit the continuation of these operations."
He points out that "the majority of countries are ready to cooperate, but Iraq has not taken the first steps because those involved in these issues are mostly influential officials in the Iraqi state."
Leaks about a political agreement
Despite observers' talk about the inability of the Iraqi government to resolve the file of money smuggled abroad and prosecute those involved in corruption cases, Iraqi newspapers reported news through informed sources, revealing an agreement between the Iraqi government and the heads of all political leaders to issue arrest warrants against officials. Involved in theft and smuggling of funds.
Al-Mada newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that “the committee has completed investigations with a number of government officials, and will soon issue arrest warrants against 22 officials between a former and current minister, an undersecretary, a director general, and the head of an independent body,” expecting that
“the deal will return about 150 Approximately one billion dollars to the state treasury."
The newspaper quoted the source as saying that "the accused involved in large corruption files will soon be brought before the courts," while the source said that
"the agreement stipulated the release of those accused or those involved in stealing money in exchange for returning it to the state treasury."
In a related context, observers rule out that the government will initiate the settlement of this file, noting that it is nothing more than show attempts.
On the other hand, professor of political science, Iyad Al-Anbar believes that “political will does not seem to be available to the current government in resolving these files,” indicating that
“political forces will not allow the opening of corruption files because everyone is involved in them, as well as that the existing political norm does not classify hegemony over these files. State resources as corruption."
He pointed out that "any attempt to fight corruption begins through the formation of parallel committees to the institutions concerned with this file, it is a non-serious, show-stopping attempt aimed at marketing only."
He believes that "the existing equation in Iraq is that what is considered corruption is considered by the political class as spoils and rights for political participation, and the entire political process is based on the distribution of positions and the sharing of the rentier economy and its resources in Iraq," explaining that
"Al-Kazemi is unable not only to open previous corruption files, but even On reducing this corruption in the future."
Source: Independent Arabia
Number of observations 101 Date added 01/10/2021