Iraq’s newly elected PM Al Sudani vows to fight corruption after $2.5 billion embezzlement case is exposed 

Iraqi prime minister-designate Mohammed Shia Al Sudani said Sunday that he would take action against corruption when he gets down to work after authorities said $2.5 billion had been stolen from a government agency’s account.

The Iraqi Integrity Commission said it is investigating the theft of $40 billion while noting that the case is currently before the judiciary.

According to the Iraqi finance ministry, a branch of the Rafidain Bank stole an amount from the General Tax Authority’s trust account.

In case corruption continues to spread in the country’s institutions and joints, ‘real measures will be taken to curb it,’ Al Sudani said in a tweet Sunday.

“We have prioritised this file, and we will make sure that taxpayers’ money is not stolen, as it was with the Rafidain Bank’s General Authority for Taxes.”

Last year, snap elections were held after nationwide protests erupted in October 2019 to protest endemic corruption, infrastructure decay, and the lack of services and jobs for youth.

President Abdul Latif Rashid of Iraq formally assigned Mohammed Shia Al Sudani on October 13, 2022, to form the next government. 

Iraq’s parliament finally elected Abdul Latif Rashid as the country’s new president on Thursday, and Mr Al Sudani was tasked with forming a new government to end a year of political gridlock.

An Iraqi political bloc led by influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr said Saturday that it would not join the new government, creating a challenge for Mr Al Sudani in the coming weeks to appoint a new cabinet of ministers.

Al Sudani, a former minister, has the support of the Co-ordination Framework, which has 138 of the 329 seats in Iraq’s parliament and is controlled by Iran-backed rivals of Mr Al Sadr.

Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi named Hayam Nemat as acting finance minister after accepting Ihsan Abdul Jabbar’s resignation, the state news agency reported on Saturday. Mr Jabbar remains Oil Minister.

In late August, Mr Al Kadhimi named Mr Albdul Jabbar as finance minister after Ali Allawi departed, citing corruption and the influence of political parties over the country’s revenues as the reason for his departure.

Parliament last week voted to remove Mr Abdul Jabbar over “mismanagement” and for failing to send financial statements to parliament.

Someone named Nemat will serve as interim prime minister until a new government is formed.

Image Credit: AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, File