The trial of an adviser to the Iraq ex-Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Khadhemi on embezzlement charges will take place today.
The suspect is likely Haitham al-Juburi, who has been charged in a wider corruption scandal surrounding the disappearance of $2.5 billion worth of tax revenue. It is the biggest corruption of the previous al-Kahdimi governemnt, involving businessmen and former high-ranking officials. Al-Juburi has already returned $2.6 million, a mere fraction of the total loss.
The scandal has angered Iraqis, many of whom are dealing with poverty, decaying infrastructure, unemployment and a near total absence of public services. Corruption has long been at the core of Iraqi politics. It a serious challenge to Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and his new government, having vowed to lead a crackdown on corruption. The country ranked 157th out of 180 in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index in 2021.
It is unlikely all of the money will be returned, as uncovered suspects are gradually put on trial after returning a fraction of the losses. The top echelons of Iraqi power will most likely continue to evade accountability in corruption cases, potentially causing civil unrest in the short-term. Al-Juburi is likely to receive a short prison term.