Iraqi authorities launched an investigation following the alleged theft of a total of $2.5 billion from the Tax Commission’s bank account.a new case of corruption in the country at a time when an attempt is being made to form a government to get out of the political paralysis.
The subtraction was announced on Saturday by the Minister for Petroleum, Ihsan Abdul Jabbarand confirmed this Sunday by the Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani.
Abdul Jabbar explained that an investigation by the Ministry of Finance, a portfolio he directed until his resignation this week, had revealed that “a specific group”, without giving details, had been made with 3.7 billion Iraqi dinars, about 2,500 million eurosin a fund of the national tax authority in the Rafidain bank.
El Rafidain, the largest bank in Iraq, with 165 branches inside Iraq and offices in Cairo, Beirut, or Abu Dhabi, has assured that it has nothing to do with the theft of this amount, collected between September 2021 and August of 2022.
“The bank’s task was limited to disbursing the bonds of the General Tax Authority of its branches after verifying the validity of their issuance,” the bank said in a note collected by the official Iraqi news agency INA.
Prime Minister Al Sudani assured on social networks that the resolution of this scandal has acquired a priority character.
“We will not hesitate to adopt measures to curb corruption, which has spread brazenly in the articulations of the State and its institutions,” he warned in relation to the long history of corruption that plagues a country that ranks 157th out of 180 collected in the International Transparency Index.
This new case of corruption, which has once again shaken an Iraq immersed in political conflict, has caused great controversy at a time when the country is going through a severe economic crisis, while the State cannot provide electricity without cuts its citizens or pay the salaries of civil servants.
MP Alia Nasif, a member of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee, said in a statement that “The stolen amount was withdrawn in cash by the executive directors of five companies”, which he described as “ghosts”.
Likewise, he accused the Tax Commission of participating in the operation with these companies (Al Hut al Ahdab, Riah Baghdad, Al Qant, Al Mobdion and Badiya al Masa), since “it is impossible for the robbery to be carried out without the presence of those involved” of the agency or bank.
The case is being investigated and has been transferred to the Judiciary, which has already summoned several senior officials from the Ministry of Finance “regarding the loopholes that led to this great breach and scandalous abuse of public money,” according to a statement from the Committee of Iraqi integrity.
In the ranking of the most corrupt countries in the world, Iraq ranks 157 out of 180while the outgoing government denounced since its formation in 2020 that the public coffers were “practically empty” due to the endemic corruption in the country, according to Transparency International.
Precisely because of corruption and lack of employment, Iraqis took to the streets en masse in 2019 in protests that brought about the fall of the previous government and forced early elections.
(With information from EFE and Europa Press)
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