Warrants issued for 28 in Iraqi corruption scandal

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

As a result of the investigation into the misappropriation of approximately one billion United States dollars, the Iraqi government has issued warrants for the arrest of the former defense minister, Hazem Shaalan, and 27 other senior officials from the US-sponsored interim government of Iyad Allawi.

It is alleged that the missing funds were embezzled during corrupt military procurement procedures that left Iraqi defence forces with sub-standard equipment. Contracts were over-priced and cash was moved abroad to pay for the outdated equipment; this was in effect a money laundering scheme.

Many of those wanted in connection with the embezzlement are believed to have fled the country; Iraqi officials are seeking assistance from Interpol to track down suspects. The ex-defense minister is believed to be in Jordan; the Iraqi government met on Monday with the intention to strip Shaalan of the immunity he is afforded as a Legislator. This action failed as the parliament did not have a quorum.