‘Heist of the century’: how $2.5bn was plundered from Iraqi state funds


Mystery surrounds embezzlement of tax revenues, which appears to have been facilitated by some of the highest offices in the country
Iraqis have called it “the heist of the century” – a brazen multibillion-dollar plundering of state coffers that has gripped the country.
The theft of $2.5bn was apparently facilitated by some of the highest offices in the land, according to sources and a series of government letters issued in the summer of 2021. The documents, signed by various government institutions including the then prime minister’s office, cancelled the audit of withdrawals from the Iraqi tax commission’s accounts.
The letters did not attract attention at the time. Iraq had been rocked by two years of turmoil and was heading for early elections. Parliament had been adjourned. The media and international community had their eyes set on the October 2021 ballot, which came on the back of mass protests demanding the toppling of a corrupt ruling elite.

Kadhimi with the powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

But behind the scenes, the stage was set for the embezzlement of tax revenues in what has emerged as the biggest corruption scandal under the then prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s western-backed government – remarkable even for a country that ranks towards the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption index.
The $2.5bn in tax moneys was withdrawn by shell companies with almost no paper trail with the help of corrupt officials, according to an internal investigation’s 41-page report seen by the Guardian, and laundered through real estate purchases in Baghdad’s most affluent neighbourhood, according to multiple sources.
The scheme was allegedly masterminded by a well-connected businessman and executed by employees in the tax commission, who enjoyed the support of an Iran-aligned political faction called Badr, the Guardian has found.
But a heist of such proportions could only have occurred with the knowledge of a wider range of institutions, including the prime minister’s office, the bank that cleared the withdrawals, the integrity commission and the central bank, according to leaked documents and interviews with more than a dozen officials, businesspeople and bankers with detailed knowledge of the case.

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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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100% Data Tampering

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