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Iraqi News Highlights Early Thursday Evening 8-17-23

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Governor Of The Central Bank: We Are Fighting A Big Battle To Remove The Illegal Groups That Seize Hard Currency

Thursday 17 August 2023 10:58 | Economical Number of readings: 342  Baghdad / NINA / – The Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Ali Al-Alaq, confirmed today, Thursday: “The bank is waging a great battle to remove illegal groups that seize hard currency,” indicating: “The next trend is to eliminate speculators in the parallel market.”  Al-Alaq said in a press statement: “The talk about the entry of 14 foreign banks into Iraq is incorrect,” noting: “The banks that have correspondent banks have a sound, official, and easy foreign remittance.”

And he explained: “The government owes a debt to the Central Bank in the amount of 46 trillion Iraqi dinars, 30 trillion of which were at the time of the government of former Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi.”

Low Oil Prices Amid Economic Concerns

Economy | 08/17/2023  Baghdad – Mawazine News  Oil prices continued to decline in trading today, Thursday, in light of continued concerns about the Chinese economy, and the possibility of the US Federal Reserve raising the base interest rate.

By 08:20 Baghdad time, US West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.29% to $79.15 a barrel.

Brent crude futures fell by 0.16% to $83.32 a barrel, according to Bloomberg agency data. Ended 29/h

After Al-Sudani’s Statement.. The International Coalition: We Are In Iraq At The Government’s Invitation

Iraq  Thursday, August 17, 2023 Baghdad / National News Center  Today, Thursday, the international coalition confirmed that the American forces are present in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, after the statement of Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani that Iraq does not need foreign combat forces.

The commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, or the joint task force to counter ISIS, General Matthew MacFarlane, said in a press statement: We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and I often describe our role as a non-combat role for my soldiers, coalition soldiers, our partners, and anyone who visits us.

He continued, “We spend our time advising and assisting in providing the required equipment to the Iraqi security forces and ensuring that they have the ability to assume combat roles, and they continue to make progress in terms of demonstrating the combat requirements to ensure the permanent defeat of the terrorist ISIS.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani said that Iraq no longer needs foreign forces with regard to controlling security and confronting terrorism, revealing “advanced dialogues” to determine the form of future relationship and cooperation with the international coalition led by the United States.

Arrest Warrants For “Theft Of The Century”… What Fate Awaits Senior Officials In Al-Kazemi’s Government?

Reports  | 04:11 – 08/17/2023  Baghdad – Mawazine News  Between prosecution, issuance of arrest warrants, and seizure of funds, the Iraqi authorities are working to recover a number of members of the previous government headed by Mustafa Al-Kazemi, on charges of financial and administrative corruption and their involvement in what is known as the “theft of the century.”

The Minister of Finance and Oil and a number of former advisors are considered among the most prominent persecuted, amid questions about the ability of the authorities to return them to Iraq from the countries to which they fled, and to prosecute them on the charges against them, especially after the Iraqi Ministry of Interior began working with the International Police (Interpol) to recover them with the looted funds.

The Accused And Their Locations

Last Tuesday, the Iraqi Public Prosecution issued 4 arrest warrants to Interpol to arrest officials in the previous government on charges related to the “theft of tax secretariats” known as the “theft of the century.”

The former head of the National Intelligence Service, Judge Raed Jouhi, is also the director of the private office of the former Prime Minister, and he is one of the judges who participated in the trial of the late President Saddam Hussein.

And advisor to the former prime minister for political affairs, Mashreq Abbas Al-Janabi  and former Finance Minister Abdel Amir Hassoun Ali Taha.

Restoration Of Those Involved

In this file, the media advisor to the Prime Minister in the current government, Hisham Al-Rikabi, says that his government is serious about activating the file of those wanted by the Iraqi judiciary who were involved in theft and waste of state funds, through what it announced within its government program.

Al-Rikabi indicated – in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net – that Iraqi officials carried out a series of procedures, tours, contacts and agreements with countries that have some wanted persons against whom court rulings have been issued or those involved in corruption cases, pointing out that these discussions received cooperation from the concerned countries and from Interpol.

Al-Rikabi says that the government submitted a complete file to Interpol with the aim of recovering all those involved in corruption who reside outside the country, and this resulted in the recovery of a number of those wanted by the judiciary, especially from Jordan, the Sultanate of Oman and the Emirates. With the expectation that other wanted persons will be received soon, in coordination with Interpol.

The media advisor said, “This file is being followed up personally by Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani,” and that the government is “determined to exact justice from all those involved in theft and waste of public money.”

The current Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’a al-Sudani, pledged to put the eradication of corruption at the top of his priorities upon assuming office in late October.

“Theft of the Century”

The case of “theft of tax secretariats”, which was revealed in October of last year, sparked popular discontent in Iraq, especially after the announcement of the involvement of former officials and prominent businessmen in it.

Earlier, former Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi defended his record in fighting corruption. He said that it was his government that unveiled this case and opened an investigation.

No less than two and a half billion dollars were seized, between September 2021 and August 2022, through 247 checks that were disbursed by 5 companies, then their money was withdrawn in cash from the accounts of these companies, most of whose owners fled outside the country.

Expected Penalties

Regarding the penalties that await the wanted persons if they are received from the countries to which they fled, legal expert Haider Al-Soufi says that the accused will be tried in accordance with Article (444) of the Iraqi Penal Code, which is related to theft of state funds, if they are found guilty.

Al-Soufi indicated to Al-Jazeera Net that if they did not attend, prison sentences would be issued against them in absentia, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, and their movable and immovable funds would be seized, and referenced to them at the land and air border crossings with arrest warrants and travel bans, and that they should not be included in the amnesty law according to the law that This is forbidden to those involved in financial and administrative corruption.

Binding Agreements

For his part, the head of the “Al-Nahrain Foundation for the Support of Transparency and Integrity” Muhammad Rahim believes that recovering those accused of stealing tax secretariats and exploiting functional influence is possible in cooperation with Interpol and they will be extradited, because they are in countries that are members of the “United Nations Convention against Corruption” as well as Iraq.

In addition, Rahim says that these countries have cooperation agreements with Iraq, and they are obligated to hand them over soon, especially since they are wanted in criminal cases, and not just violations.

Rahim – in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net – ruled out the inclusion of those convicted of the upcoming general amnesty law, especially since Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani insisted on that, “unless there is a hidden political will to include them, and thus a disaster will befall with regard to the international assessment of Iraq.”

Dozens Of Arrest Warrants

In the context, the Baghdad-Karkh Investigation Court, which specializes in integrity issues, issued a decision on August 14 to seize the movable and immovable funds of former Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar.

The official agency quoted a judicial source as saying that the decision came against the background of a case related to the abuse of his position and receiving bribes from investors linked to contracts with the Ministry of Oil.

It is noteworthy that the “Federal Integrity Commission” revealed – last Tuesday – that dozens of arrest and recruitment orders had been issued against a number of senior officials and those with higher ranks during last July.

A statement by the Commission’s Investigation Department stated that the judicial authorities issued (54) arrest and recruitment orders against the background of cases investigated by the Commission’s directorates and offices in Baghdad and the governorates, and referred them to the judiciary, the majority of which are for senior officials with higher ranks.

According to the statement, the arrest warrants included former ministers and undersecretaries, in addition to a number of former governors, current and former general directors, and members of a provincial council.

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