News International review

Iraq seeks its officials around the world for corruption

The Iraqi authorities have asked Interpol to arrest former high-ranking officials suspected of embezzling $2.5bn. The matter concerns former Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Allawi, who fled to the UK, and former head of Iraqi intelligence Mustafa al-Kazimi, who fled to the US.

According to Reuters, the Iraqi officials illegally withdrew $2.5 billion from the bank account of the Finance Ministry’s General Commission for Taxes from 2021 to 2022. The investigation suspects 48 people. Some of them fled abroad after managing to withdraw $77 million.

Integrity Commission chief Judge Haider Hanoun said he would seek Interpol red notices for the fleeing ex-officials. Some of the stolen funds have been recovered.

Experts emphasise that the amount is staggering even in a country that regularly ranks among the world’s most corrupt.

Ali Allawi denies his guilt. He stepped down in August 2022 following the arrival of a new government led by Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. Allawi attributed his decision as a reaction to the new government’s political interference in his work and graft.

Earlier, Iraqi authorities asked the US and UK to “extradite fugitive suspects”. Iraq is now actively extraditing people involved in embezzlement from a number of states, including the UAE, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.