Iraqi Judiciary looks into 2.53 billion USD stolen from tax funds
Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – Iraq’s Commission of integrity (COI) disclosed on Sunday details about the theft of more than 3.7 trillion Iraqi dinars (2.53 billion USD) from the General Commission for Taxes.
The COI, in response to the letter issued by the Ministry of Finance, confirmed that the case has been investigated and is now looked into by the Iraqi judiciary to make the appropriate decisions.
The COI explained that the judiciary issued arrest warrants for senior officials in the Ministry of Finance regarding this major breach and terrible abuse of public funds.
A letter from the Iraqi Ministry of Finance to the COI regarding allegations of theft of tax deposits in Al-Rafidain Bank went viral on social media.
The Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported on Saturday that an internal investigation carried out by the Ministry of Finance found the money had been withdrawn from the COI’s account at a state-owned bank.
Prime minister-designate Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani vowed to tackle endemic corruption in the country. “We will not allow Iraqis’ money to be robbed,” Al-Sudani said via Twitter.
In response to the circulated news, Al-Rafidain Bank issued a statement confirming it has nothing to do with any manipulation or theft, and it was only responsible for cashing the checks issued by the General Commission for Taxes.
The statement added that the bank will continue to cooperate with the concerned authorities to reveal the facts.
The vast sum of cash, equivalent to nearly 3.7 trillion Iraqi dinars, were stolen by five companies from the General Commission of Taxes account at Baghdad’s Al-Rafidain Bank between September 2021 and August 2022 through the cashing in of 247 checks issued by the tax directorate, according to Rudaw News.
The Karkh Investigation Court decided on August 21, 2022, to stop the disbursement of checks issued by the General Commission for Taxes.
Iraq ranks 157 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index. Criminal charges are rare in Iraq and usually limited to mid-level government officials, according to Ahram Online.
“Pervasive corruption is a major root cause of Iraqi dysfunctionality,” Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, told the Security Council in early October.
Iraq is a major producer of oil, and revenues from this sector feed 90 percent of the federal government’s budget.