Monday, March 6, 2023

Political Payback Continues As Sudani Govt Issues Warrant For Iraq’s Ex-Finance Minister

(Wikipedia)

On March 4,
20 warrants were issued for the $2.5 billion stolen from the Iraqi government. That included former Finance Minister Ali Allawi, the director of Prime Minister Kazemi’s office, his personal secretary, and his political advisor. The irony is that Allawi was one of the first to publicly announce the case. This is the latest example of the Sudani administration using this offense to go after its political enemies.

 

Prime Minister Sudani has been playing games with the case from the start. Then Finance Minister Allawi warned about the scandal in November 2021. Checks were being written to five companies from the tax authority at Rafidain Bank in Baghdad to steal funds. Allawi ordered the payments to be stopped but he was ignored as the Kazemi government was trying to cover it up. A judge announced $2.5 billion had been stole in October 2022. New PM Sudani talked about the issue again in November which was when it spread throughout the media. The Coordination Framework which put Sudani into office are enemies of former PM Kazemi. Some elements of the Framework thought Kazemi was too close to the United States and accused him of being involved in the deaths of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander General Qasim Suleimani and Hashd leader Abu Muhandis. Bringing up corruption under Kazemi’s watch is a way to smear his name and perhaps throw some of his officials into prison.

 

Another example of how unserious PM Sudani is about actually punishing anyone for this crime is the release of two figures arrested in the case. The former head of parliament’s finance committee Haitham al-Jabouri and businessman Nour Zuhair Jassim were detained at the end of 2022 but after they paid a few million dollars to Baghdad they were both let go. If the government was serious about finding who was involved in this crime and prosecuting them Jabouri and Jassim would still be in jail and Allawi who tried to stop the theft would not have a warrant out for him. Instead, the Coordination Framework is trying to settle scores against their opponents from the Kazemi period.

 

SOURCES

 

Bas News, “Main Culprit Behind Iraq’s Theft of the Century Released on Bail,” 1/12/23

 

Foltyn, Simona, “‘Heist of the century’: how $2.5bn was plundered from Iraqi state funds," Guardian, 11/19/22

 

Al Hurra, “Theft of the Century .. Options for the Government of Iraq to recover the looted funds,” 11/30/22

 

Jalabi, Raya, “Iraq reels from $2.5bn tax ‘heist of the century,’” Financial Times, 11/17/22

 

Al Mada, “20 arrest warrants have been issued so far for those accused of the “theft of the century” and there is no date for trials,” 3/4/23

 

Mahmoud, Sinan, “Iraqi investigators say most of stolen $2.5 billion has been recovered,” The National, 10/27/22

 

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Iraq’s ‘theft of the century’: Ex-head of parliamentary finance committee arrested,” Middle East Eye, 11/30/22

 

 

 

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