The Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohamed Shia al Sudani, announced this Sunday the recovery of part of the money stolen from the country’s fiscal funds, in what the national media described as the “theft of the century”.
The theft was announced in October by the Minister for Petroleum, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, who explained that an investigation by the Ministry of Finance, the ministry he directed until his resignation this week, had revealed that “a specific group”, without giving details, had made off with 3.7 trillion (with ‘b’) Iraqi dinars, about 2.5 billion euros, in a fund of the national tax authority in the Rafidain bank.
At a press conference, Al Sudani reported the recovery of 182,000 million Iraqi dinars, about 120 million euros, and recalled that “investigative commissions have been formed to audit the instruments disbursed from fiscal deposits.”
For now, Al Sudani has limited himself to pointing to “bodies within the Tax Authority and other supervisors and officials who facilitated the theft of money.”
“After completing the investigations, we will reveal those who facilitated the theft of deposits,” he guaranteed in statements collected by the official Iraqi news agency, INA.
The Ministry of Finance issued a lengthy statement detailing the scandal and confirming the arrest of some of the accused officials, while the General Tax Commission confirmed that it had ordered the seizure of the assets of five of its senior officials involved in the case.
However, the results of the investigation are still not fully known and the money has still not turned up, to the outrage of the UN special representative for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert, who has called on the Iraqi authorities to recover the 2.5 billion embezzled dollars.
“Do you know what Iraq could have done with the billions that are now missing? Invest in schools, hospitals, energy, water or roads,” he said on his Twitter account. “Recover these funds and return them to their rightful owners. Support the Government in their investigations. Ensure accountability.”