The Iraqi Parliamentary Integrity Commission announced that the Iraqi judiciary is in talks with its US counterpart to repatriate suspects involved in the theft of public funds, dubbed the “heist of the century”.
In a press statement, Deputy Chairwoman Alia Nusayif said that the Commission and the national judiciary are coordinating with the Interpol to arrest individuals accused of embezzling tax revenues.
Nusayif added that the Iraqi judiciary is in discussions with its US counterpart to arrest those accused of the theft and extradite them to Iraq. She indicated that two of the defendants hold US citizenship.
The head of the Iraqi Integrity Commission, Judge Haider Hannon, had previously called on the US and the UK to extradite officials accused of embezzling tax revenues.
Hannon pressed relevant US and UK authorities to act upon arrest warrants issued against the suspects per Article 316 of the amended Iraqi Penal Code No. 111 of 1969.
He also called on the UAE to hand over the political advisor to the Prime Minister of the previous government, who currently resides on its territory. He requested Türkiye’s assistance to extradite a former employee and his wife, previously associated with the Federal Integrity Commission.
-Defendants and bails
Former Iraqi Minister of Oil, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar, and the Acting Minister of Finance in the government of former Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi were the first to uncover the “heist of the century.”
Several red arrest warrants were issued against Kadhimi’s team amid accusations of embezzlement and illicit enrichment.
The Iraqi judiciary did not issue a red arrest warrant with the help of Interpol to pursue Abdul Jabbar. However, an Iraqi court issued an order to seize his assets.
Shortly before the end of the term of Kadhimi, Abdul-Jabbar announced the embezzlement of taxes estimated at $2.5 billion deposited in the Rafidain Bank. He then announced his resignation from the position of Acting Minister of Finance.
Uncovering the theft, which turned into a public opinion issue, did not acquit Abdul-Jabbar, who was later accused of illicit enrichment.
Former Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi announced that a unit arrested the main suspect of embezzling tax revenues, Nour Zuhair, the head of one of the five companies involved in the case.
Ghanimi told the media that Zuhair was arrested at the Baghdad International Airport before he escaped on his private jet. However, he was later released on bail after an agreement aiming to recover the funds that he admitted to seizing, estimated at approximately $1.25 billion.
Shortly after assuming his position as Prime Minister, Mohammad Shiaa al-Sudani appeared surrounded by hundreds of millions of dollars and Iraqi dinars to announce the first operations to recover the stolen funds.
-Awaiting the Interpol
The Iraqi government seeks to open corruption files, including recovering smuggled funds and repatriating wanted persons accused of embezzling public money.
The charges include senior government officials, and the judiciary issued contradictory positions towards the defendants.
The Iraqi public questions the validity of the red arrest warrants against the accused outside the country, which may not receive the required response from their countries of residence.
Several suspects hold dual citizenship, and some countries fear political revenge against some since the Iraqi political parties have not finally agreed to identify the main accused and the evidence that convicts them.
Source : Asharaq Al-Awsat