The Iraqi government announced Sunday the start of an immediate investigation into the whereabouts of 2.5 billion euros stolen from a bank fund of Iraq’s General Tax Authority, in one of the biggest scandals in the country’s recent history.
The theft was announced on Saturday by Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar and confirmed today by Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al Sudani.
Abdul Jabbar explained that an investigation by the Ministry of Finance, the portfolio he headed until his resignation this week, had revealed that “a specific group,” without giving details, had made off with 3.7 trillion Iraqi dinars, about 2.5 billion euros, in a fund of the national tax authority in the Rafidain bank.
The Rafidain, the largest bank in Iraq, with 165 branches inside Iraq and offices in Cairo, Beirut, or Abu Dhabi, has assured that it has nothing to do with the subtraction of this amount, collected between September 2021 and August 2022.
“The bank’s task was limited to disbursing the General Tax Authority bonds from its branches after verifying the validity of their issuance,” the bank has assured in a note carried by the official Iraqi news agency INA.
Prime Minister Al Sudani has assured on social networks that the resolution of this scandal has become a “priority”.
“We will not hesitate to take measures to curb corruption, which has spread shamelessly in the joints of the state and its institutions,” he said, referring to the long history of corruption that plagues a country ranked 157th out of 180 in the Transparency International Index.