The news of Iraq’s “heist of the century” investigation sent shockwaves throughout the country as people wondered what would happen next. Interpol had been asked to issue Red Notices for high-ranking former politicians, including ex-finance minister Ali Allawi and aides to former prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, who now live outside the country. But while there was initial excitement that a red notice would finally be issued, the reality was far different. Interpol confirmed that a red notice is not an international arrest warrant but said they would review any requests from member countries, leaving many uncertain. Meanwhile, some insisted that those responsible must be held accountable - but it seemed that justice would have to wait.
The disappearance of $2.5 billion from Iraq's General Commission for Taxes, a department of the Ministry of Finance, has rightly been dubbed “the heist of the century”. The case centers on 250 allegedly fraudulent cheques written from the commission and cashed by five shell companies between 2021 and 2022, funds that are suspected to have since been illegally relocated out of Baghdad via the International Airport.
Unsurprisingly, this heinous act was perpetrated in a country ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt, at 157 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index. This week, Haider Hanoun, head of the Iraqi Commission for Integrity – Iraq's main anti-corruption agency – urged US and UK authorities to aid with the apprehension of four individuals arrested in March in relation to this issue. Yet, despite his plea, these men remain free.
“Interpol's investigation into the arrest warrants has been met with confusion and divided opinions,” said a source. “Certain members of Interpol believe that they should be allowed to proceed without any hindrance, as the organization's guidelines forbid any political or racial activities. However, others are concerned that these cases may be used to target specific people while diverting attention away from more pressing issues such as the Iraqi currency crisis and electricity shortages. Ali Allawi remains under Investigation, but without sufficient evidence or sentencing, it is difficult to conclude whether this is an issue of politics or justice.”
Although many are calling for justice and denouncing potential corruption in the government, it is difficult to separate the motive of power from actual efforts to combat it.
Former adviser Fanar Haddad said that it was surprisingly easy for an individual accused of being a part of a fraudulent cheque scam to be allowed to roam free by the courts. He believes that while there could be real guilt among some of those accused, the need for the Interpol red notice comes mostly from a desire to create an image of fighting corruption.
Tension hung thickly in the air at Baghdad airport as cash was smuggled out without detection from security forces. Mushtaq, whose identity must remain hidden for his protection, had once worked with Iraq’s Integrity Commission and knew all too well of the corruption that ran rampant at the three-terminal site. Rival Iraqi factions sought to control the airport, none wanting to take accountability for failure to detect money being taken from Iraq.
The Border Points Commission, led by Maj Gen Omar Al Waili, was answerable only to the Prime Minister. The Customs Police were under the Ministry of Interior, known to be infiltrated by – and occasionally controlled by – Badr Organisation. The Iraqi National Intelligence Service and Iraqi National Security Service were separate branches of internal security, along with the head of the Security Department in the Civil Aviation Authority. With so many groups vying for power, everyone seemed to get a piece of the pie.
Is greed the common denominator in the corruption in Iraq? Or is there a more dark and hidden reason that highly religious men would steal from their country? What is the darkness behind the corruption?
The EduMatrix channel is deeply concerned that the answer to this question will rock our worlds. It is beyond the political secrets in either England or Washington, DC. Then what is it?
This article was written by Sandy Ingram, the publisher of the EduMatrix Youtube Channel. You can read more on this topic here: Iraq Arranges for Interpol Alerts Over $2.5 Billion Thief.