The Iraqi capital, Baghdad, will host in the middle of this month a conference of Arab justice ministers on its stolen assets.
On May 23, Iraqi President Barham Salih said in a televised speech that $150 billion had been smuggled in corruption deals abroad since 2003. This amount is equivalent to the country’s financial budget for nearly a year and a half.
Muhammad Rahim Al-Rubaie, a member of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption coalition and head of the Al-Nahrain Foundation for Supporting Transparency & Integrity, told the official Al-Sabah newspaper on Sunday, that “the conference will be held on 15 and 16 September, under the auspices of the Iraqi government represented by the Ministry of Justice, the Arab Center for Legal and Judicial Research, and the Council of Arab Justice Ministers in the Arab League.”
The conference aims at Arab cooperation and the efforts of the Arab League in combating corruption and recovering stolen assets due to corruption.
Iraq’s stolen assets
Iraq aspires to come up with recommendations to be submitted to the Council of Arab Ministers of Justice, with the aim of activating Arab cooperation protocols to recover the money looted from the country during the war on Iraq.
Iraq is among the Arab countries most affected by corruption, embezzlement and smuggling of public funds abroad, since the overthrow of the previous regime in 2003.
Corruption was a major reason for the failure of successive Iraqi governments to provide basic services to the population, such as electricity, drinking water, education and health.
During the neighboring countries summit last week, the State of Iraq aspired to achieve positive steps in supporting the Iraqi economy, which is going through several crises.
This summit is the first of its kind in more than 20 years, as it coincides with Iraq’s endeavors to achieve economic integration with neighboring countries.
The head of the committee, spokesman for the Baghdad conference, Nizar Al-Khairallah, said that the participating countries are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, France, Turkey and Iran, in addition to the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.