The main defendant admitted to stealing more than a billion dollars
Baghdad – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”: The Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’ Al-Sudani, revealed the dismantling of oil smuggling networks in four Iraqi provinces, which include numerous security forces that contributed to their protection. While revealing the arrest of more than 120 people involved in this file, he also spoke about new information about the “theft of the century” related to the tax secretaries, according to which the main suspect in the case is suspected of stealing more than a billion dollars, out of a total of 2.5 billion
Al-Sudani said at a press conference held on Monday evening, after the end of the cabinet meeting, that “oil smuggling is one of the big files that followed the talks during the previous years and is depleting Iraq’s wealth”, stressing that “the latest outcome until today (yesterday in the evening) is over.” Breaking smuggling networks in Baghdad, Basra, Diyala and Kirkuk, which resulted in the seizure of one million 781 thousand and 971 liters, as well as the seizure of 66 tankers.
He pointed out that “there is a network of some employees of the security services who performed the tasks of protecting and enabling the passage of those tanks”, pointing out that “18 of them have been arrested so far, and 14 are on the run from the security service.” The number of those involved in smuggling, who are not connected to the security services, and who have been arrested, is up to 121 defendants.
According to Al-Sudani, “smuggled quantities of petroleum products, which caused a crisis within the cities, in Diyala governorate amounted to about two million liters per day, and in Basra governorate about five million and 600 thousand liters per day of petroleum products subsidized from the state treasury.”
It revealed the involvement of dozens of security branches in oil smuggling networks in four provinces
In the file of court proceedings related to the “theft of tax guarantees” and the question that arises after the two-week deadline set by the accused in the promise he made to the competent judge, Al-Sudani confirmed, saying: “We have great confidence in the Iraqi judiciary and judicial procedures in the process of recovering the stolen money in this case,” explaining that “The government, through its security services and the Integrity Commission as a supervisory institution, and the support team is monitoring this file and communication with the competent court, and we are all convinced that the court in this to succeed in the case in accordance with the promises of the main defendant.”
And he stated that “there is a certain type of complexity that is faced with the process of recovering the amount, due to the diversity of these funds between assets and properties that need to be sold, especially since most of them are subject to confiscation and everyone knows the difficulties in selling confiscated property”, while emphasizing that “the second part that faces the court in the restitution procedure is that the main defendant distributed the money between a group of banks and several persons between the private sector and the like. He is facing difficulties in the matter of restitution. He added: “The competent judge follows the accused, and against the restrained court orders were issued to the persons, after the presentation of evidence proving that the main accused transferred to them the sums that were part of the theft.
He added: “As a government, we will not give up on calling the accused to account, and at the same time we prioritize the return of stolen public money.” The money that was stolen are tax guarantees, and companies can review and claim them, and the state is forced to pay these amounts from public money, so the priority before us is how to recover the money, and the judiciary remains the legal and constitutional authority to call to account those who are involved in this process.
Al-Sudani went on to say: “We are in constant contact with the court proceedings and we have great confidence in the court proceedings and the way they are handling the refund issue. All guarantees exist and we assure everyone that no one will escape responsibility and there will never be a settlement at the expense of public money.
He referred to the “security team that supports the Supreme Commission for the Suppression of Corruption, which was formed by law, headed by the Integrity Commission, and this is an advantage for the commission and the supporting team that came in accordance with the law and differs from the previous orders that were were contrary to the constitutional and legal context. Work on all files continues, and soon they will be matured and published.
The Iraqi Prime Minister also believed that “the fight against corruption is not a promise, but a program that is voted on in the House of Representatives, with the presence of political forces and parties, and is therefore an obligation before the people and the House of Representatives.” , and everyone is at stake today in translating this program into a tangible practical reality in opening cases of administrative and financial corruption.” And calling those involved to account and return public money,” given that “the fight against corruption is a popular demand on which popular demonstrations and protests were based. It was a national demand and it was adopted by all political forces and a government committed to it, and the speaker is also committed to this process.” Al-Sudani stressed: “We cannot restore trust between the people and the political process without real deterrent measures against corruption and the corrupt, whoever they are.” Otherwise, the failure will be repeated for everyone without exception.
Regarding the record of the increase in the price of the dollar compared to the US dollar and its consequences for the market and the poor and middle income strata, Al-Sudani explained that “recently there has been a clear increase in the price of the dollar against the dinar in the domestic markets and foreign remittances. The central bank, the body that deals with monetary policy in the country, explained that the reason for this is a number of factors, including the direct operation of the bank on an electronic platform where banks submit requests to increase the number of their customers to the bank.
He added, “A few months ago, the Central Bank started building this platform, in coordination with international bodies, for the purpose of stipulating and regulating windows for buying and selling foreign currency, and to ensure effective control over them.” Indeed, these remittances go to imported goods at realistic prices, and it is quite clear that this mechanism does not exist. There are fictitious companies and excessive prices, so these transfers were rejected by intermediary banks.
He pointed out that “some of the remittances that were rejected were proven by the sales document (for example) the purchase of a refrigerator at a price of 4,800 dollars, while a liter of oil is fixed at a price of 25 dollars. Which guarantees the stability of the market, especially of food products. And Al-Sudani assured that “the government is in control of providing food products through ration card items and even flour, as well as controlling prices in the local market,” revealing the government’s request to the Central Bank “to take quick steps to make up for the shortfall dollar currency that appears in the markets through Facilitating the availability of the same for travelers and students for those who want to cross.
And he continued: “The Board of Directors of the Central Bank made several decisions, including the encouraging decision to reduce the price of the dollar against the dinar for importers to cover the opening of documentary letters of credit from 1,455 instead of 1,460 dinars.” imports, and it will be published in a timely manner.” In addition to the bank’s decision, “a reduction in the dollar exchange rate for electronic payment cards from 1,470 dinars to 1,455 dinars per dollar”.
And he added: “The central bank made an important decision to open sales points for the dollar and to implement commercial transfers to importers through state banks, and this translates into the issue of price control.”
Al-Sudani also spoke about ordering the Ministry of Trade to “facilitate the procedures for issuing import permits, and we also ordered the Ministry of Finance to initiate urgent procedures to reform the customs and tax system at border crossings, while taking measures to eliminate the fears of some importers about the possibility of tax arbitrariness , and today we have a decision of the Council of Ministers in this sense.”
And he considered that “the financial situation of Iraq is the best today, the reserves of the central bank have reached the level of 96 billion dollars, and this is what allows the central bank to achieve the stability of the exchange rate”, pointing out that “our vision is clear in the sense that we invest in the current good financial situation in order to build a solid economic base.” and reduced total dependence on oil.
According to the Iraqi Prime Minister, “there is more than one program, policy and procedure for the government in the area of revitalization and reform of the private sector, including banks, to be a strong foundation to support investments.”