Who is behind the looting and smuggling of Iraqi money?
Private banks were established in Iraq to be the main support for the process of economic development, but what happened was exactly the opposite, because these banks became a factor in the collapse of development, and corruption became one of the problems that the banking system in Mesopotamia suffers from, along with the low the level of services that these banks provide to clients.
Economist Diaa Al-Mohsen explains this, saying: “These banks approved hundreds of millions of dollars to finance projects, and in fact these funds went into the pockets of the corrupt because most of these projects had no basis in reality, but were fake projects.”
He explained that “private banks are a front for political parties and a cover for corruption, and the process of selling foreign currency from the window of the Central Bank of Iraq, which takes place in inevitable cooperation with these banks, is only one of such problems.” manifestations.”
Who protects smuggled money?
Al-Mohsen explains that what he called the “theft of the century” is a good example of bank corruption, because the value of the stolen amount was more than two billion and 500 million dollars, and the smuggling involved state and private banks outside Iraq, along with money laundering operations in which these banks ventured into and which they demanded. A representative of the US Department of Finance warned 14 commercial banks about the need to improve financial conditions and supervise the transfers they perform for the benefit of clients. .
He proposed a solution to the problem, saying: “It is necessary to restore the foreign transfer department of the Central Bank of Iraq and inform the correspondent banks (with whom the foreign transfer department previously dealt) to resume operations, provided that importers must limit their commercial transactions to the Central Bank of Iraq, otherwise they will not be allowed to transfer any amounts in foreign currency.” Abroad”.
Economist Bassem Antoine comments on this issue, saying: “Financial and banking corruption has recently become widespread in Iraq, especially as a result of poor monitoring by regulatory agencies, as it has found refuge in some countries that hope that money laundering will increase in order to launch laundering operations, according to reports received from the Iraqi Integrity Commission, it is money that is not easy to control due to the weak capabilities of regulatory agencies in terms of monitoring its destination, in addition to harboring and protecting certain politicians for corrupt money smugglers, and most of all, regulatory agencies are afraid of prosecuting users and personality.
He adds: “These mafias used funds that are difficult to investigate because they do not deal directly with official departments or state-owned banks. Instead, they use some banks, which are said to be four important banks that deal with cash liquidity, and they are in this is helped by an auction of currencies that are not controlled by competent authorities.” He points out that “there are houses and treasuries full of Iraqi currency (cash), which makes up three-quarters of the press outside the banking system, and it is difficult to control it, either in Iraqi currency or in dollars, knowing that the dollar controls its quantity, not Iraq, but US Treasury.”
Antoine indicated that from time to time the dens of these people are raided and punishments are taken against them, and big scandals have been announced that were discovered by the prime minister, but there are quite a few of them that are behind blocs and political parties, and he concluded, “We need is the cooperation of citizens and the end of benefits provided by the state.” Money is smuggled and there must be effective and impartial agencies to curb this organized smuggling, because corruption is a major economic terrorism.
Representative Bassem Khashan says that a person who is not specialized in money took over the presidency of the Central Bank because of quotas. Regarding the banks “Rasheed” and “Al-Rafidian” many reports were filed against them even before the recent theft. crimes, but nothing was done against them without success. . Holding accountable those involved in administrative and financial violations, whether serious or minor, has not been achieved due to the lack of serious investigations into corruption cases.
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Khashan reveals that “cases of money laundering are numerous and take several forms, including what is in the form of deposits or property and real estate in some countries,” and calls for the need for reconfiguration of oversight bodies, such as the change that occurred in the Integrity Commission when Judge Haider Hanoun took over the presidency of the Commission, threatening the corrupt and those who stand behind them in an interview with journalists, and says: “We must develop investigative procedures in the Commission and courts for integrity in order to convict all those involved in all crimes, answer and not that the crime is attributed to one person, and the number of those involved in it is dozens of people”, expressing a lack of optimism regarding this government due to, as he said, superficial actions in dealing with state or combating corruption, and the past months have been disappointing”.
Coin on newsprint
The former head of the Integrity Commission, Musa Faraj, lists the reasons that aggravated the problem that emerged after 2003, saying: “The first is the conditions of corruption and chaos, and the second is the creation of private banks, which we described as dealing with corruption and currency smuggling, and the most prominent and the most unfortunate factor is the role played by the government in excluding the international banker, Sinan al-Shabibi.” And by replacing it with people who dared to put their name on the Iraqi currency in a precedent that the country has not witnessed, besides entering the file on currency auctions, which caused, according to the former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the loss of 300 billion dollars from the Iraqi treasury between smuggling and money laundering.
He adds: “It is no secret to anyone what happened in the servitude between state and private banks due to the interference of politicians in government decisions and their dominance over state banks, which became a channel for stealing money and handing it over to corrupt and their banks.”
As for the roots of this deterioration, Faraj mentions: “It started with the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war and the siege phase, which saw the currency being printed on newsprint and the statement of the Central Bank Governor, Issam Mulla Huweish, circulating saying (we don’t need currency reserves above all, because leader Saddam is a firm support of the Iraqi dinar)” “.
For his part, the adviser of the Central Bank of Iraq, Ihsan Shamran al-Yasiri, excludes the connection of financial and banking corruption in Iraq with some countries. Corruption is often cross-border, since it is born in one country to establish values, money and practices, and then it migrates to another by passing corrupt money, which is typical for money crimes. He added: “Corruption in the banking sector unfortunately exists like in any other sector, but the Central Bank is now taking on the burden of fighting it through strong supervision and it needs the joint efforts of all stakeholders to be able to carry out its mission.”
Iraq has an Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Office, which is an important institution that monitors and investigates money laundering and terrorist financing practices, but the persistence and legitimacy of corruption and the infiltration of corrupt people into sensitive institutions in the country are indicators of weak law enforcement, according to Al -Yasiri, who explains how to get to the tax secretariats and the large amounts, saying: “In fact, this process cannot take place without completing the management circles between the (tax secretariat unit) located in each customs port, which is the first circle that disseminates information, submits and fills out forms for deposit holders and then sends them to the General Administration of Taxes (financial department), and I assume that employees who contribute to the embezzlement of these funds by identifying or providing information to those who own these trusts will be included, and this is the second episode. “
He continues: “As for the third link, it is the bank that is responsible for sensitivity to the intensity of cash withdrawals for embezzled funds, and that all operations were withdrawn in cash in an accelerated manner. The management of Rafidain Bank should have been sensitive to its branches because the intensity the payment should have attracted the attention of the bank.”
Al-Yasiri continues: “Whoever is entrusted with large sums, it is better not to withdraw them, but to transfer them from the tax authority’s account, either by check or money order, and deposit them in his bank account. Therefore, it is unreasonable for someone to withdraw tax funds in the hundreds of billions unless he is in a hurry in the withdrawal process for the purpose of smuggling.” means.”
Great sin and routine episodes
Al-Yasiri mentions that “the theft of the century passed over the shoulders of the surveillance apparatus.” He points out that “the representative asked to be satisfied with the audit of the tax administration and to prevent the audit of the Financial Supervision Institute, with the aim of making it easier for those who have the right to pay the tax secretaries. This is a great sin committed by the promoter of this decision, and the biggest mistake is the Institute for the financial watchdog who responded to the restraining order when he had to refuse it.”
Al-Yasiri justifies: “The Iraqi Financial Supervisory Authority was known for its serious monitoring and auditing, but the lifting of hands from this auditing process revealed the process late, and a large process of embezzlement was going on through the state banking sector, which I believe is far from the supervision of the Central Bank, if there was no great pressure from the administration.” The bank with the departments of the bank and the Ministry of Finance, the last of which was a fruitful collaboration between the Governor Central Bank and the former Minister of Finance Ali Allawi, who positively intervened and reacted to the reports of the Central Bank and based on them held urgent meetings between the leaders and staff of the bank with other banks to discuss the reports.
He explains: “For years, the central bank has invested great efforts in reforming the banking sector and improving its performance. We have promising banks that show promise, and some of them are in the reform and assessment phase. We also have banks that are difficult to reform and do not seek benefits from them, and the Central Bank has taken measures against them, either by managing them, or placing them under Guardianship or liquidating them in the event that there is no change in operation.
For his part, the head of the Transparency and Anti-Corruption Foundation “Al-Nahrain”, Muhammad al-Rubaie, confirms that the tracking of looted funds by the Iraqi government exhausts the entire cycle and revolves in routine circles between several parties and takes a long time, and he proposes that the Iraqi government establish a Financial Intelligence Unit, and through it hunt down people and seize assets. And recover them in record time, knowing that there are several recovery departments in independent bodies and ministries, such as the Department of Recovery in the Federal Integrity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Intelligence Agency.