At a time when it is going through difficult stages and its people are suffering from supported poverty due to the aftermath of wars and external interventions in the country, theft has recently become the most prominent feature in Iraq.
Iraq has turned into a platform for theft, with thieves fleeing with money out of the country. Recently, theft has become the most prominent global issue within Iraq and is referred to as the theft of the century. Currently, Interpol is searching for the suspects in the case following the issuance of a Red Notice by Interpol from Baghdad for the arrest of former senior politicians.
Iraqi Judiciary Issues Arrest Warrants
In recent times, the Iraqi judiciary has issued arrest warrants for four high-ranking officials in the country’s former government. They are accused of facilitating the embezzlement of $2.5 billion from public funds in one of the largest financial corruption scandals in the country. The Federal Integrity Commission in Iraq stated in a press release that an investigating judge in Baghdad issued arrest warrants for four senior officials in the previous government for investigation in the case popularly known as the “theft of the century.”
The four officials are accused of “facilitating the embezzlement of tax revenues.” The case, revealed in October 2022, sparked strong public anger and outrage in Iraq. It implicated former officials and prominent businessmen.
The names of the four individuals who were part of the Al-Kadhimi administration were not mentioned in the statement, but informed sources told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that they include former Finance Minister Ali Allawi, Raed Jouhi, the former Prime Minister’s office director, private secretary Ahmed Najati, and adviser Mashreq Abbas.
Request for Extradition of Suspects
In August of this year, the head of the Integrity Commission in Iraq, Haider Hanoun, requested both the United States and the United Kingdom to extradite Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s former office director, the former head of intelligence, and the former finance ministers due to their involvement in the case of embezzlement of tax revenues.
Judge Hanoun stated in a press conference held in the capital, Baghdad: “The case of tax revenues is the biggest corruption case discovered to this day, and it has a special characteristic as it is a corruption crime intertwined with betrayal. What can be inferred from its events is that its goal is not just the theft of public money, but also undermining the citizens’ trust in the state, its institutions, and those in charge of it.”
Hanoun added: “The case of embezzlement of tax revenues will not die. We say to the perpetrators of this crime, do not rely on time. Days passing will not make us forget the crime. It will remain in the daily memory of the people. Moreover, your remaining outside prison with Iraq’s stolen money will not last long. We will explore all means to execute the arrest warrants issued against you, secure your appearance before a fair judiciary, and recover the stolen funds from you.”
No Arrests for the Accused
Political activist Abdulaziz Al-Khamees revealed new details about the theft, stating that the investigation into the “theft of the century” in Iraq might expand after the issuance of a Red Notice by Interpol from Baghdad for the arrest of former senior politicians. Among those officials identified by the Iraqi government, former Finance Minister Ali Allawi and former Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s aides were named. Baghdad claims that Al-Kadhimi is currently living outside of Iraq.
Al-Khamees noted that despite the initial announcement from Baghdad regarding the issuance of Red Notices, it doesn’t seem to be the case. Interpol stated that a “Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant” and they will review any request from a member country. The investigation has no limits, and if evidence of involvement of any person from any government emerges, they will be investigated.
Sources close to the case told The National that the committee does not have “sufficient evidence” to press charges and that the evidence points to a “political agenda.”