Iraq’s Salih says $150 billion stolen oil cash smuggled out since 2003

Iraqi President Barham Salih during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq on September 02, 2020. (Anadolu Agency)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Sunday $150 billion from oil had been smuggled out of the country since former Baath president Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003.

Salih presented a draft law to parliament to fight corruption, recover stolen funds and hold perpetrators to account, he addressed public on Sunday.

He called on the parliament to adopt “this crucial piece of legislation, in order to curb this pervasive practice that has plagued our great nation”.

“of the close to a trillion dollars from oil since 2003, an estimated $150 billion of stolen money has been smuggled out of Iraq,” he said.

OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer relies almost exclusively on its crude exports to fund its budget, which includes a bloated public sector and mass subsidies.

The Iraqi president also called for cooperation with other governments and international bodies to recover the funds.

“Corruption is an impediment to any nation’s economic and social development,” he noted.

Iraq is perceived as the 21st most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International, with some $450 billion in public funds vanishing into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen since 2004.

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