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Iraqi PM: Probe Recovers Some Funds    11/28 06:16


   BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's government said on Sunday 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, or $125 million, 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.

   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.

   Jassim confessed to holding the embezzled sum, the statement added. He is 
expected to be released on bail. His legal representation did not respond to 
calls from the AP. Al-Sudani also said the investigation was ongoing and had 
identified other individuals involved.

   Jassim was arrested in late October at Baghdad International Airport. He was 
named as the CEO of two of five shell companies through which the funds were 
stolen. According to an internal audit seen by The Associated Press, Jassim 
obtained over $1 billion from the account.

   Officials say it's unlikely that an embezzlement scheme of this scale could 
unfold without the knowledge of higher-ups.

   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.

   The current government only came together in late October, more than a year 
after early elections.

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