Iraqi foreign exchange offices implicated in money laundering and smuggling
By Khayoun Saleh
Azzaman, August 8, 2012
Foreign exchange offices have become conduits for the smuggling and laundering of hard cash in the country, said Central Bank Governor Mudher Saleh.
Saleh said high-level government and party officials were involved in illegal money exchange operations primarily aimed at smuggling dollars abroad.
“Most of these offices are run by people with influence in the state and senior politicians via their families and relatives,” said Saleh.
Saleh mentioned no names but his statement is a damning accusation that the government is either directly or indirectly involved in attempts which he said aimed at emptying the country of its hard cash.
These offices, he added, “are using forged documents claiming that the money transferred outside the country is for trade purposes.”
“There are massive operations of corruption and the government is required to investigate them,” the governor said.
Saleh made the comments following reports that many Iraqis had started losing confidence in the local currency by exchanging their savings into dollars.
The dinar is losing ground to the greenback once again after a short period of prosperity.
Saleh said more than $4 billion were leaving Iraq every month, a massive amount which he said did not correspond to the volume of commodities entering the country.
The government, he said, should will put an end to the illegal flow of dollars outside the country “in order to prevent the economy from collapsing.”
Iraqi hard cash reserves amount to more than $60 billion but the governor said it would be difficult for the Central Bank to meet the rising demand for dollars.
The bank auctions millions of dollars every day as part of attempts to withdraw liquidity and safeguard local currency’s value.