Iraq issues arrest warrants for former officials involved in $2.5 billion corruption scandal

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — Iraqi authorities issued arrest warrants for four former officials who are accused of involvement in one of the country’s largest-ever corruption scandals. The four men are accused of facilitating the theft of $2.5 billion in public funds.

The warrants were issued by an investigating judge in Baghdad and were announced by the Iraqi Federal Commission of Integrity in a statement on Saturday.

While the officials were not named in the statement, the Iraqi Media Network has confirmed that they include former finance minister Ali Allawi, the director of the office of former prime minister Raed Jouhi, personal secretary of former prime minister Ahmed Najati, and adviser to former prime minister Mushrik Abbas.

Several months before reports of a corruption scandal emerged, Allawi stepped down from his position in August 2022. Despite accusations of wrongdoing, he maintains his innocence and denies any involvement in the alleged theft.

It is estimated that at least $2.5 billion was stolen through checks cashed by five companies totaling 247. Most of these companies’ owners are currently on the run and have withdrawn the money in cash.

Known as “the heist of the century,” the case has caused outrage among Iraqis, who have long criticized their government for corruption. Following his appointment in late October, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani pledged to tackle corruption.

The warrants are seen as a crucial step toward holding those responsible for stealing public funds to account.

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