Iraq probe recovers part of $2.5 billion embezzled from tax office

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Iraq Probe Recovers Part Of $2.5 Billion Embezzled From Tax Office Iraq Probe Recovers Part Of $2.5 Billion Embezzled From Tax Office
Approximately 182 billion Iraqi dinars of the stolen sum will be recovered through the seizure of properties and assets belonging to a businessman. Photo: PA Images
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Associated Press Reporters

Iraq’s government has said it will recover part of nearly $2.5 billion in funds embezzled from the country’s tax authority in a massive scheme involving a network of businesses and officials.

Approximately 182 billion Iraqi dinars of the stolen sum will be recovered through the seizure of properties and assets belonging to a well-connected businessman complicit in the corruption scheme, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s office said in a statement.

The amount retrieved was disbursed to Noor Zuhair Jassim, a businessman who was arrested in connection to the scheme along with officials from the government tax authority for withdrawing funds from a tax deposit account between September 2021 to August 2022.

Mr Al-Sudani stressed the ongoing investigation would not spare anyone involved in the scheme, and the government is working to recover the full amount stolen.

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Mr Jassim confessed to holding the embezzled sum, the statement added. Mr Al-Sudani also said the investigation was ongoing and had identified other individuals involved.

Mr Jassim was arrested in late October at Baghdad International Airport. He was named as the chief executive of two of five shell companies through which the funds were stolen. According to an internal audit seen by The Associated Press, Mr Jassim obtained over one billion dollars from the account.

Officials say it is unlikely that an embezzlement scheme of this scale could unfold without the knowledge of senior people.

Political factions in Iraq have long jockeyed for control of ministries and other government bodies, which they use to provide jobs and other favors to their supporters. A number of factions are linked to different government bodies implicated in the tax scheme.

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