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She was transported by armored vehicles.. New details on the "theft of the century" and a British report hinting at the involvement of "Iraqi factions"

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She was transported by armored vehicles.. New details on the "theft of the century" and a British report hinting at the involvement of "Iraqi factions"

Reports and analytics   Central Bank of Iraq    Theft of the century  
2022-11-19 18:14

Shafaq News /
the British Financial Times newspaper published an article by the writer ريا Chalabi in which

she talked about the fate and developments of the case of the theft of 2.5 billion dollars in Iraq, and

the investigations into the incident, which is the largest of its kind to be announced in the country, while hinting at the involvement of "Iraqi factions" in the theft.

According to the Ministry of Finance,

armored vehicles carrying 2.5 billion dollars belonging to the Iraqi tax authority disappeared between September 2021 and August 2022, a scandal that has sparked widespread controversy within the corridors of power since its discovery last month.  She adds that

trucks loaded with tax money left the state-owned Rafidain Bank and took their usual route to disappear in broad daylight in what is known in Iraq as the "theft of the century".

He had unveiled the merits of this scandal days before the swearing-in of the government of the new prime minister Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani, and pledged to give priority to the fight against corruption that spread in all parts of the state and its institutions, as the Sudanese launched a public purge of aides to former prime minister Mustafa al-kadhimi, according to the author.

Sudanese responsibility

Al-Sudani, who
appears to be an independent politician and
enjoys the support of some factions allegedly involved in the scandal,

may have difficulty holding senior members of the political establishment accountable, noting that

"the responsibility for this scandal lies with those at the top of the hierarchy of power, and

many high - level players are involved, including current and former ministers, civil servants and businessmen".

It said "rampant corruption" in Iraq had eroded state institutions endorsed by the political class that has ruled the country since the overthrow of late President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Instead of promoting power-sharing, the author adds,

"the sectarian Iraqi system has contributed to the establishment of a quota system between factions competing for senior government positions and feeding patronage within ministries".

Involvement of influential parties

Some sources claim - according to the article-that

this latest fraudulent scheme involves many powerful and dissonant political factions, especially those who agreed on the appointment of al-Sudani,

while the new government is dominated by political blocs linked to Iran known as the "coordination framework", which disagreed with loyalists of rival Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on the formation of the government.

The author, in the course of her article, emphasizes that 5 people familiar with the investigation noted that the latest scandal casts doubt on both sides that have been fighting for power for a long time.

Theft detection

The scandal of embezzlement of 2.5 billion dollars - in which the

Tax Authority, the
central bank and the
Ministry of finance

are suspected to be involved-

came to light when "Finance" revealed the result of an internal investigation that showed that from September 2021 to August 2022 about 250 checks were organized for 5 companies, and

then the funds deposited in the escrow account intended to cover annual liabilities were withdrawn to accounts controlled by the tax authority at Rafidain State Bank.

In a public statement after the disclosure of the embezzlement, former finance minister Ali Allawi-who resigned from the kadhimi government in August 2022 - stated that

he informed Kazemi's office about the scheme in November 2021, and ordered to stop payments from the accounts without his consent,

but the payments continued, according to Allawi, at a time when an adviser to the former prime minister said that Kazemi's office had not received "official correspondence" from Allawi about the embezzlement.

According to the Ministry of finance, the companies in question claimed to be working for larger companies, including many international oil companies, but according to 4 people familiar with the investigation, 3 companies had been founded just one month before the embezzlement was carried out, according to the author.

The Ministry of Finance had revealed that 3.7 trillion Iraqi dinars (2.5 billion dollars) had been withdrawn from the accounts of Rafidain Bank, which is equivalent to 2.81% of the country's budget for 2021, and then some of these funds were used to buy dollars from the Central Bank of Iraq.


The author, speaking about the suspicions surrounding the embezzlement process, confirmed in her report that

according to 3 people familiar with the Iraqi banking sector,

it is certain that the central bank and the Rafidain Bank are aware of the operation, as the

slight increase in dollars purchased at the auction was higher than usual, as well as the

amounts withdrawn were very large

The same sources explained that

"the amount of money transported daily in Baghdad required armored trucks, and

this indicates the involvement of the security services".

She added that the judiciary issued a travel ban against 9 suspects, including 5 high-ranking civil servants at the tax authority and the Ministry of Finance and company managers, and

one of them, Nour Zuhair Jassim, was arrested at the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport while trying to leave the capital on a private plane.

The article continued that - according to the same sources familiar with the investigation-

Jassim is the main suspect, and that the

judiciary is investigating his relationship with

kadhimi's aides, the
Sadrists and the
leaders of the coordination framework,
including former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and the
leader of the "Fatah" Alliance Hadi al-Amiri, and

the judiciary summoned one of kadhimi's advisers for questioning.

Settling accounts

While analysts doubt that the investigation is being used as a tool to settle scores, Renad Mansour, director of the Iraq initiative Project at Chatham House, confirms that

"the corrupt and the powerful succeed in using their power to target the weaker groups,

anti-corruption mechanisms are often used as a tool for political liquidation".

Analysts emphasize that in a system where corruption reigns and special interests dominate, the investigation is likely to be disrupted.

"It is expected that
some heads will fly out of the banks
, and

then the issue will be quietly forgotten,

most likely this is what the political elite is planning,

which seems to have returned to its old practices," said Sajjad giad, a fellow resident of the Century Center.

The article concluded that

many of the competing political factions in Iraq that are suspected of involvement in this embezzlement, which was described as "great", have shown their willingness to ally with each other for financial gain,

which Mansour comments

"This confirms that corruption is rooted in the Iraqi political system".

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