Iraqi President Barham Salih has said that an estimated $150 billion of stolen oil money has been smuggled out of Iraq in corrupt deals since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Sunday, May 23 statement came as the Iraqi President submitted a draft Corrupt Funds Recovery Act to the Iraqi Parliament which he hopes that if passed into law would seek to recover the misappropriated funds through the cooperation of other governments and in partnership with international bodies.
“Of the close to a thousand billion dollars made from oil since 2003, an estimated $150 billion of stolen money has been smuggled out of Iraq,” Salih said in a televised speech.
“The draft law seeks to strengthen the powers of Iraqi nation in order to recover money stolen in corrupt deals, to hold corrupt people accountable and bring them to justice,” according to Salih.
He urged Iraqi lawmakers to discuss and approve the proposed legislation “to help curb this dangerous scourge that has deprived our people of enjoying the wealth of their country for many years.”
“Here I reiterate Iraq’s call, which we have previously issued at the United Nations General Assembly, for the formation of an international coalition to fight corruption along the lines of the international coalition against ISIS,” Salih said.
Salih said corruption is as dangerous as terrorism.
“Terrorism can only be eliminated by draining its sources of funding based on corruption money as a political economy of violent,” Salih added.
Iraq has a high level of government corruption, unemployment and a lack of basic services, including electricity and clean water, which has only gotten worse following decades of sanctions by the US, UN and war waged by the US in 2003.
The US currently has 2,500 troops in Iraq focused on the mission to defeat ISIS as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the global coalition to defeat the remaining ISIS caliphate that controls parts of Iraq and Syria.