AMMAN -(Dow Jones)- The Kurdistan autonomous region in northern Iraq Tuesday denied accusation made by the Iraqi central government that it has been illegally siphoning billions of dollars worth oil.
"The charges made by deputy prime minister against Kurdistan Regional Government are baseless," a KRG spokesman said in a statement posted in its website.
Hussein al-Shahristani Monday accused Kurdish authorities of allowing the smuggling of crude oil produced from its fields through Iran, saying crude produced in Kurdistan and not exported through the export pipeline to Turkey'sCeyhan port in 2010-2011 was worth up to $6.65 billion.
"This will cause a budget deficit, and our government should act to preserve Iraqi resources," Shahristani said.
The KRG decided Sunday to halt completely oil exports of around 90,000-100,000 barrels a day, accusing the central government of failing to make payments to firms working there.
The central government, however, says it has already approved payment of $560 million to oil producers in Iraqi Kurdistan and it is awaiting final audits to issue the money. The KRG says say that it is owned $1.5 billion by central government.
-By Hassan Hafidh