Tuesday Evening Iraq Economic News Highlights 9-27-22
$18B Deposited In Lebanese Banks By Iraqi Politicians, Gov’t Agencies Has ‘Evaporated’
Hudhaifa Ebrahim 09/26/2022 The funds mostly come from corrupt politicians and those seeking to avoid US sanctions – An informed source in Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s central bank, told The Media Line that more than $18 billion belonging to Iraqi politicians, the Iraqi government, and the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq have “evaporated” due to the banking crisis in Lebanon.
The source, who declined to be named, said, “This is what can be counted, and is officially registered in the names of Iraqi personalities, companies, or government agencies. There are many personalities whose balances are registered under other names and with other nationalities.”
He explained, “The numbers are much higher. There are politicians who are afraid of sanctions, so they have opened bank accounts in the names of Lebanese personalities who follow the same trend, and they are often followers of [Hizbullah and Amal movement], loyal to Iran, or even Sunni personalities.”
The source also said that, so far, the Iraqis have not asked to withdraw their funds, and that if they did, Lebanon’s central bank would not be able to honor the request because it does not have sufficient liquidity, and “until liquidity is available, these funds remain just numbers in the banks.”
He said that more than $1.3 billion belongs to the Iraqi government and more than $650 million belongs to the Kurdistan regional government. “As for the rest of the sums, they belong to political figures, businessmen, and others who hold Iraqi citizenship, and their money has been deposited in Lebanese banks in their names and nationalities. As for those who hold other nationalities, such as European, Iranian, Asian, or American nationalities, we will not be able to count them.”
The value of the Lebanese currency against the dollar was stable for more than a quarter of a century, at around 1,515 Lebanese pounds to the dollar. From 2019, it gradually deteriorated, affected by a severe economic crisis afflicting the country, and is now 39,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar on the parallel market, though the official rate remains 1,517 Lebanese pounds to the dollar.
Political corruption in Iraq contributed to the flight of funds abroad; Iraqi politicians who obtained funds illegally regularly deposited them in foreign banks. However, since the end of 2017, when the US government under former President Donald Trump began imposing sanctions on some of the politicians, depositing the money abroad became difficult, except in countries that did not implement US sanctions.
Abdul Rahman al-Mashhadani, an Iraqi economic analyst, told The Media Line, “This money can be recovered if the government requests it, but the money of Iraqi politicians cannot be demanded.”
He added that Lebanon could not pay the money now, but an agreement could be reached on recovering the money in installments.
“Lebanon is one of the most popular countries for Iraqis to deposit their money in, because the government there is loyal to Hizbullah, which in turn is loyal to Iran, and this is in agreement with the orientation of many Iraqi politicians,” he said. In Lebanon, due to the influence of Hizbullah, US sanctions on pro-Iranian figures and parties can be circumvented “so they can deposit their money there without fear.”
He continued: “What happened to the Lebanese banks plunged some Iraqi politicians into a financial crisis, but frankly, it is a small part of what the corrupt politicians own; their assets greatly exceed these sums.”
Al-Mashhadani explained that Sunni Iraqi politicians could easily deposit their money in European and Turkish banks. But Shiite Iraqi politicians could only use banks in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. And since economic situations in Iran and Syria were so precarious, Lebanese banks were the preferred solution before the economic collapse in that country.Mazhar Muhammad Salih, an adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, said in statements to the Iraqi media that “politicians who have money in Lebanese banks should forget it.”
“They should forget it, it will not come back,” he told journalists while declining to answer questions about the Iraqi government’s money.
Nabil Jaafar Al-Marsoumi, an economics professor at the University of Basrah, told The Media Line, “The numbers regarding Iraqi deposits in Lebanon’s banks are not accurate; the amounts are much larger.”
“These funds belong to companies, some of which are registered in countries where tax evasion is possible,” he added.
“Most of the money [deposited] in Lebanon is the result of corrupt operations that took place in Iraq. Lebanese banks have been facilitating deposit and transfer operations for Iraqis in the past years, and they have been a center [for financial corruption] for these officials,” Al-Marsoumi said.
Ahmed A., a former employee of the Iraqi Embassy in Lebanon who spoke on condition that his full name not be used, told The Media Line, “In my work, I witnessed the transfer of many Iraqi funds to Lebanon.”
“The sums were in the billions, and they were not withdrawn,” he said. “The Lebanese banks were paying more than 5% interest, which prompted Iraqi politicians to deposit their money in Lebanese banks, and now they cannot withdraw it.”
He continued: “Specialized companies carried out this task. These companies were tacitly affiliated with Hizbullah. They supervised the transfers of funds and managed the bank accounts of Iraqi politicians in Lebanon.”
He stressed that Lebanon was chosen to handle these funds due to Hizbullah’s control of the banks and said that some funds go to Iran as a form of support.
“The politicians have billions of dollars in funds, some of which are the result of corrupt deals by foreign companies, which transfer these funds directly to the accounts of Iraqis in Lebanon,” he said. The former embassy employee added that he had “no idea” about the Iraqi government’s money in Lebanon.
Minister Of Oil: My Occupation For A Number Of Positions Is A Government Assignment
Political | 10:05 – 09/26/2022 Baghdad – Mawazine News, considered the Minister of Oil and Minister of Finance of Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Agency, on Monday, that his holding of a number of positions is a government assignment.
Abdul-Jabbar said, “I was assigned the duties of the Ministry of Finance after the resignation of Ali Allawi, and I cannot apologize.”
He added, “38 lawsuits have been filed against me by the Basra Oil Company because of people whose interests were damaged,” noting that “all the cases brought against me were closed by the judiciary.”
He pointed out that “there is a large sum of money seized in the Ministry of Finance,” stressing that “Iraq owes Shell about 210 million dollars.”
He explained, “The allegations about the Shell Oil Company are practices aimed at expelling investment,” noting that “the news of my seizure of a plot of land in Al-Daoudi is false and untrue.”
He continued, “The Federal Court’s decision challenged the legal effect of the position of the head of the National Oil Company,” noting that “the decision to dissolve the National Oil Company shook the legal environment for the oil industry.”
He stressed that “the decision of the Federal Court regarding the oil and gas law in the region is very fair,” adding, “We asked to study the oil contracts, but the administration of the region hesitates to do so.”
He pointed out that “there are big differences in the contracts and quantities of extraction in the region’s oil fields,” stressing that “if we win the cases brought against Turkey in international courts, we will be compensated with up to 30 billion dollars.”
He pointed out that “the Integrity Commission has begun conducting investigations with the money that was withdrawn from the Rafidain Bank,” explaining that “everything that the former minister said in his resignation letter applies to the tax departments.”
And he indicated, “The start of pumping oil to the Karbala refinery is a great achievement that counts for the current government,” stressing, “I was able to salvage the Basra Gas Company and turn it from a loser to a profitable one.” Ended 29 / p. 87 https://www.mawazin.net/Details.aspx?jimare=206623
It Achieves 5 Times The Price… Is Oil Trying To Benefit From Exporting Liquefied Gas Abroad Instead Of Selling It To Cars By Raising Its Price?
2022-09-27 Yes Iraq: Baghdad The Ministry of Oil seems to be greatly interested in the process of exporting liquefied gas, “cooking gas”, which is the same used in cars. With this growing interest, a question comes to mind regarding the ministry’s raising the price of a liter of gas sold for cars that run on gas in Iraq. The ministry plans to achieve greater benefit from exporting gas instead of selling it at a subsidized price to citizens.
Deputy Managing Director, Director of the Higher Production Authority of Basra Gas Company, Marfa Al-Asadi, said that “the company continues to work in the production of liquefied gas used in cooking to meet the country’s need,” noting that “the current production covers 80% of the local need, in addition to exporting the surplus.” 6 years ago, through the company’s Umm Qasr port.”
He added, “The company is seeking to update its plans to export liquefied gas abroad, as it has worked to develop its facilities and export semi-cooled gas (4 degrees Celsius), which contributed to the possibility of loading the product into ships with larger capacities that almost double the previously exported quantity. It reaches 10,000 tons, which allows our product to reach farther markets and to have more tankers used for this material, after relying on exporting gas in small vessels with capacities ranging from 3,500 to 5,500 tons, depending on the type of ship. “.
Iraq produces more than 2.2 million tons annually, and according to statements that 80% of production covers the local need, this means that about 440,000 tons are exported annually, while 144,000 tons were exported in 2017, which is the beginning of Iraq’s transformation into a source of liquefied gas.
The price of a ton of gas is approximately $740 ($0.74 per liter), which is more than a thousand dinars per liter, a price equivalent to 5 times the price at which the ministry sells a liter to cars in Iraq at 200 dinars per liter, before the ministry decided to raise the price to 300 dinars per liter, and perhaps the ministry’s move aims to reduce its losses and reduce the number of cars that go to gas, thus benefiting as much as possible from gas to be exported abroad instead of selling it at a subsidized price inside Iraq.
And by exporting more than 400,000 tons annually, this means that it brings to Iraq money estimated at 300 million dollars annually, while selling this amount of cars inside Iraq at the subsidized price will bring only 54 million dollars. LINK
Culture: UNESCO Did Not Make Us Aware Of A Threat To The Marshes
Political | 08:16 – 09/26/2022 Baghdad – Mawazine News The Ministry of Culture confirmed today, Monday, that the marshes are still on the World Heritage List, noting that there is no threat to remove them from the list.
The spokesman for the ministry, Ahmed Al-Alawi, told the Iraqi News Agency (INA), that “the file of the marshes, after being registered in the World Heritage List as one of the heritage landmarks, has a cultural aspect and an environmental aspect for which the Ministry of Environment is responsible,” noting that “this aspect is concerned with following up the arrival of water to this area”.
He added, “The Ministry of Culture is concerned with the cultural aspect and the maintenance of this heritage aspect,” noting that “the issue of water is linked to the Ministry of Environment and coordination with neighboring countries that have a water connection with this region.”
He stressed that “UNESCO has not officially notified us until today that there is a threat to remove the marshes from the World Heritage List,” noting that “removing any facility from the World Heritage List requires scientific reports from UNESCO and close follow-up.”
He stated that “there is a set of standards and controls that require the inclusion or removal of an annex from the World Heritage List,” explaining that “the reports that exist today do not refer to removing the marshes from the World Heritage List with this water scarcity, which is considered global after countries were damaged and their rivers dried up.” .
Al-Alawi indicated that “the marshes are still on the list and there is no danger at the official level,” noting that “we aspire to increase the water level in the marshes soon.” Ended 29 / h
Kurdistan Sets A New Condition For Investment In The Region
Economie| 07:35 – 09/26/2022 Kurdistan – Mawazine News A spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party bloc in the parliament of the region, Peshwa Hawrani, announced on Monday that the head of the regional government decided not to grant any leave to investment projects in which the proportion of local labor is less than 75%.
Hawrmani wrote on his Facebook page, a post followed by Mawazine News, that in order to support young people and provide them with job opportunities, the Prime Minister of the Regional Government, Masrour Barzani, ordered not to grant any investment project a work permit if the percentage of local labor in it was less than 75%.
He added that the Kurdistan government had paid during the past six months the amount of 628 million dollars of debts to companies that had loaned the government money to pay the salaries of employees in the region. Ended 29/R77 https://www.mawazin.net/Details.aspx?jimare=206602
Industry: We Have The Second World Reserve Of Phosphates..But We Import Them From Abroad
09.27.2022 – 13:56 Baghdad – people Today, Tuesday, the Ministry of Industry and Minerals explained the reason for not exporting minerals outside Iraq.
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Director of the Mineral Investment Department at the Geological Survey of the Ministry of Industry, Ahmed Tariq, told the official news agency, which was followed by “Nass” (September 27, 2022), that “mineral wealth cannot be exported because it does not achieve economic feasibility, due to transportation operations, and that the Investment Regulation Law Mineral Resources No. 91 of 1988 amended, currently in force, and the draft law submitted since 2008 do not allow the export of raw minerals as mineral wealth,
but rather allow factories for manufacturing industries to be based on them and through which manufactured materials can be exported abroad, similar to countries whose economies have grown on this basis And it manufactures materials from it that double its prices, as it is not like oil.”
He stressed that “minerals, such as sulfur and phosphate, are based on transformative industries destined for local use, and they cannot be exported, but only invested.”
He pointed out that “the phosphate fertilizer industry and its factories are currently suspended, and as a result, Iraq imports the material from abroad in hard currency, although Iraq has the second reserve in the world of this raw material.” https://www.nasnews.com/view.php?cat=94628
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