Friday December 01, 2023

Iraqi PM says fraction of stolen $2.5bn retrieved

November 28, 2022

Baghdad: Iraq has recovered “part” of $2.5 billion in public funds fraudulently withdrawn from a government account, the prime minister said Sunday, calling on guilty parties to hand themselves in and return all the money.

Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said a wealthy businessman implicated in the theft from tax authorities had given back $125 million out of more than $1 billion that he “confessed” to having received.

Businessman Nour Zuhair Jassem will be subject to an assets freeze and released on condition of recovering the remaining funds within two weeks, Sudani added. The scandal has provoked widespread ire in Iraq, an oil-rich country ravaged by endemic corruption.

According to a document from the country´s tax authority, the colossal sum was allegedly expropriated between September 2021 and August this year through 247 cheques cashed by five enterprises. The money was subsequently withdrawn from the companies´ accounts, the document showed. The owners of those accounts -- most of whom are on the run -- are subject to arrest warrants.