Iraq Accused of “Shake Downs” to Force Tax Payments

By John Lee.

Associated Press reports that American military contractors operating in Iraq are accusing Baghdad of employing strong-arm tactics to make them pay exorbitant income taxes.

To force payment of the taxes, which the companies say are haphazardly calculated and can total millions of dollars, Iraqi authorities are alleged to have held up, and even threatened to stop altogether, delivery of essential supplies, including food, fuel and water, bound for U.S. and coalition forces.

Iraqi government officials also have refused to issue, or have delayed, the delivery of work visas to employees of companies that won’t hand over the money.

The full article can be read here.

(Source: Associated Press)

Iraqi Farmers fight against Imported Goods, Corruption

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The Tureibil crossing, or more commonly known as the Karameh border crossing, between Jordan and Iraq reopened in early September in tandem with the opening of another border crossing with Saudi Arabia. This means that more foreign goods are likely to flow into the Iraqi market, which already lacks national products, especially food and agricultural goods.

The prospects for increased imports, which is not good news for the local production industry in Iraq, prompted parliament’s Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee on Aug. 14 to accuse the Ministry of Agriculture of mismanagement and confusion in supporting these foreign goods, which caused the local market to become flooded with imported products.

Mohammed Mansouri, an expert on local livestock, warns against “a catastrophe in the sector of livestock and agriculture in Iraq,” urging the government to work “on achieving food security.”

However, the failure of agricultural projects in Iraq is not only the result of poor planning and management, but also a “corrupt agenda seeking to keep this sector lagging so as to continue relying on imports,” said Ali al-Badiri, a member of the Agriculture, Water and Marshlands Committee, in a media statement Aug. 24. “Impeding the cultivation of wheat crops is a conspiracy, as this cultivation has become a threat to the investments of the corrupted,” he said.

In the same vein, Suhaila Abbas, the head of the Agriculture Committee of the Babil Governorate Council, told Al-Monitor, “Linking food security to importation is not due to technical problems such as drought or the rudimentary irrigation and land treatments techniques, as these can be addressed through development plans. This is, however, due to political reasons. Many of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in keeping Iraq unable to become self-sufficient in terms of food, so it continues importing food products.”

Dual Nationality allows Iraqi Officials to Escape Abroad

By Rabih Nader for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Lebanese authorities arrested a former Iraqi minister who was wanted by Interpol at the airport in Beirut Sept. 8. The identity of the minister has not been released yet, but Lebanese officials have said that he holds British citizenship.

Many officials with dual nationality accused by the Iraqi authorities of corruption have fled the country in order to escape prosecution. Basra Gov. Majid al-Nasrawi is a case in point; he left Iraq on an Australian passport Aug. 18 in defiance of an arrest warrant over suspected corruption.

Several other officials have also left the country, including former Ministers Abdul Falah al-Sudani (trade), Hazim Shaalan (defense) and Ayham al-Samarrai (electricity).

For two years, the Iraqi parliament has not been able to pass a bill bringing an end to officials holding dual citizenship, despite its inclusion in a list of parliamentary reforms announced by speaker Salim al-Jabouri in August 2015, as part of a package of government measures following widespread demonstrations in Baghdad to demand reform.

The bill, which has been suspended since the last parliamentary term, deals with the rules on Iraqi officials holding two nationalities. It is based on Article 18 of the Iraqi Constitution, which demands that holders of senior and “sovereign” offices give up their “acquired citizenship.”

However, the constitution charges the legislature with the task of working out the details and drawing up a law on the issue, something the Iraqi parliament has so far failed to do.

Amal al-Bayati, a member of the Council of Representatives, told Al-Monitor that Iraqi holders of foreign citizenship often escape justice because they can use it at the first sign of trouble. “The number of dual citizens in parliament is very high, which poses major difficulties when it comes to passing this law,” she said.

Ex-Iraqi Minister arrested in Beirut

Lebanese security services arrested have reportedly arrested the former Iraqi trade minister, Abdul-Fallah al-Sudani [Abd al-Falah al-Sudani], who is convicted of corruption.

Sudani, who is wanted by Interpol, was arrested in Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (pictured) on 10th September.

In 2012, Sudani was convicted of embezzlement in absentia and sentenced to seven years in jail.

As a leader in the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite Dawa Party, he served as trade minister 2006-2009.

After he was accused by the Integrity Board of corruption, he attempted to flee but was arrested in Baghdad Airport. He was then released on bail and later escaped the country.

(Source: GardaWorld)

Minister of Transport to be Investigated for Corruption

MP Adil al-Nuri of the State of Law Alliance has said the integrity commission will commence procedures to investigate the Minister of Transport, Kazem Finjan, on corruption and waste of public funds.

Al-Nuri added that the Integrity Commission will renew a push to prosecute senior officials involved in corruption during the coming parliamentary period.

(Source: GardaWorld)

Governor of Anbar Relieved of his Post

A member of the Anbar provincial council, Sabah Karhout, announced on August 27 the approval of the Administrative Court of Justice for the firing of Anbar governor Suhaib al-Rawi (pictured), after the decision was made in a governorate session to relieve al-Rawi from his post over charges related to financial and administrative corruption.

The Administrative Court of Justice has approved the removal of Anbar governor Suhaib al-Rawi against the background of the Anbar province session in which the governor was deposed and the governorate will receive the official letter of approval,” Karhout said in a statement.

He added that Anbar province will open the post up for replacement nominations.

(Source: GardaWorld)

Authorities Deny Release of Iraqi Airways Chief

The Commission of Integrity has denied reports on the release of Iraqi Airways chairman following his arrest “red-handed” taking a bribe.

A commission statement on August 15 said that reports by some media outlets that claimed the release of Samer Kabba, the Iraqi Airways chairman, were untrue.

The statement said the investigating judge referred the case to the criminal court to complete legal procedures.

It also urged media outlets to verify reports on this issue.

Media reports said Kabba was released on bail pending investigations after his arrest while accepting a bribe.

An MP earlier warned against pressures on the judiciary to release Kabba.

(Source: GardaWorld)

Basra Governor “quits” after Corruption Investigation

By John Lee.

The governor Basra has reportedly stepped down and gone to Iran following an investigation by the Integrity Commission into allegations of corruption against him.

The Integrity Commission has asking the foreign ministry in Baghdad to ask Iran to repatriate Majid al-Nasrawi.

According to a report from Reuters, a Basra-based politician close to Nasrawi said the accusations were “politically motivated“.

(Source: Reuters)

Former Dyncorp employee Pleads Guilty in Iraq Scam

By John Lee.

The Washington Post reports that a former DynCorp International employee has admitted to helped cheat the US State Department out of millions of dollars in Iraq.

Jose Rivera, aged 57, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud, acknowledging that he helped convince his employers to rent a camp at Baghdad International Airport at a grossly inflated price, as part of a training program for Iraqi police.

The State Department ultimately paid $5,320,000 in rent for the property from September 2011 to April 2014.

He agreed to cooperate against the other defendants in the scheme, and will be sentenced no 6th October.

(Source: The Washington Post)

Parliament to Quiz Minister over Alleged Corruption

By John Lee.

Iraq’s parliament will reportedly question acting Trade Minister Salman al-Jumaili over allegations of corruption.

Member of Parliament Alia Nassif told Reuters that the Minister will be questioned on 3rd August over import deals for contaminated rice and licences for new mills. amongst other issues.

In 2015 authorities issued an arrest warrant for then Trade Minister Milas Mohamed Abdul Kareem following a corruption investigation; he is reported to be still in hiding.

(Source: Reuters)