Report cites growing corruption in Iraq, money laundering

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Baghdad, Iraq (4E) – An independent U.S. agency overseeing the spending of Iraq reconstruction funds has issued a report charging that corruption is growing in the country and its central bank’s foreign currency auctions are marred by money laundering.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) report released Tuesday based its allegation of corruption to the questionable firing recently of Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) chief Sinan al-Shabibi by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

According to the report, the timing of the firing on Oct. 16 was suspicious as the CBI had just found in a quarterly audit that 80 percent or$800 million of $1 billion bought at weekly currency auctions are being laundered abroad.

SIGIR head Stuart W. Bowen Jr. had said in an interview with The Cable that Shabibi was fired for refusing to allow Maliki’s government to have control over CBI’s $63 billion reserves.

The report cites claims that Shabibi was responsible for the anomalous transactions, so he is now being investigated by the government. At the same time, the report cites that political opponents of Maliki and bank experts were concerned that the prime minister was trying to concentrate his power when he fired Shabibi.

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