BAGHDAD, Sept 16: The Integrity Commission and the Iraqi Ministry of Justice organized on Wednesday an international conference to recover the “looted and smuggled” Iraqi funds, in the presence of Arab justice ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister and Kuwaiti Minister of Justice Abdullah Al-Roumi. A statement by the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi quoted him as saying in his speech at the conference, “Corruption and money smuggling is a dangerous disease that affects any society and any country if the risks of this disease are not dealt with seriously and responsibly and through measures to combat corruption and eliminate outlets for squandering, smuggling and disregard for the capabilities of people.”
He stressed that “there should not be any safe haven for looted money and thefts, and the corrupt and thieves should not feel that there is a haven for money stolen from any country,” referring to billions of dollars stolen and fl ed during the era of the former Iraqi regime. He considered that the “foundational errors” in the years that followed the overthrow of the former regime exacerbated corruption and more seriously in the country. He stressed that fighting corruption and recovering the Iraqi people’s money smuggled out of the country is a priority for the Iraqi government, noting in this regard that his government formed a special anti-corruption committee that was able in one year to uncover corruption files that had not been revealed for 17 years and recovered funds looted from abroad.
For his part, the head of the Iraqi Integrity Commission, head of the looted funds recovery fund, Alaa Al-Saadi, said in a statement to reporters on the sidelines of the conference that the meeting today aims to create a united front to pressure the countries that refrain from returning those funds. He explained that the major obstacle that prevents the recovery of this money is “the lack of cooperation of a number of countries that embrace the looted money, protect those convicted of smuggling it, and work to invest or launder this money, in addition to granting citizenship to those convicted.” He revealed that the commission prepared 217 files condemning the smuggling of money outside the country last year until the middle of this year to request international legal assistance, in addition to issuing 157 judicial decisions in absentia to hand over convicts and fugitives wanted by the judiciary. (KUNA)