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Some $150 billion in oil revenues has been stolen and smuggled out of Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussain in 2003, the president of Iraq said, as quoted by media, at the introduction of a new law aimed at fighting corruption.
"Of the close to a trillion dollars made from oil since 2003, an estimated $150 billion of stolen money has been smuggled out of Iraq," President Barham Saleh said, as quoted by The New Arab, as he urged the Iraqi parliament to " adopt this crucial piece of legislation, in order to curb this pervasive practice that has plagued our great nation".
The draft law that Saleh presented to parliament envisages close scrutiny on transactions of sums over $500,000 as well as bank accounts, with a special focus on accounts with $1 million or more in them.
Unfortunately, the law may never pass parliament, The New Arab reports, citing a local security and politics expert.
It's certainly one of the best pieces of legislation proposed by the executive branch since 2003. But will it be adopted? I doubt it," Fadel Abo Ragheef told the AFP.
The political parties the lawmakers belong to will act to sabotage it, so it doesn't pass. In public they will support it, but behind the scenes, they will do everything to prevent its adoption, because many of the politicians are involved in this racket".
CNN quoted the Iraqi president as saying that the proposed legislation will also seek to recover those $150 billion in stolen funds through cooperation with other governments and international organizations.
"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," President Saleh said.
Iraq is currently making some $5 billion in crude oil export revenues. Over the first quarter, the country's oil revenues totaled $15.53 billion, up 40 percent from last year's fourth quarter and up by $1.5 billion from the first quarter of 2020.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.