Sunday, March 11, 2007

Report: Former Iraqi Minister wanted for involvement in theft of $800 million now living in London

Former (Interim) Prime Minister Allawi with Hazem Shaalan

A former Iraqi defence minister whose 10 months in office coincided with the disappearance of more than $800m (£400m) from the ministry’s coffers is living openly in Amman and London despite a warrant for his arrest.

Hazem Shaalan, a small businessman in London until Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003, rose in a year to one of the most important jobs in the interim government that ran Iraq from 2004 to 2005.

He left Baghdad before the next government discovered that a fortune had been looted from his ministry’s account in what one senior investigator has called “one of the largest thefts in history”.

The missing money was part of $8.8 billion of shrink-wrap-ped American cash that was flown into Iraq after Saddam fell but which is now unaccounted for. It is the subject of a congressional inquiry in Washington amid growing demands by Democrats to identify those responsible.

When The Sunday Times tracked down Shaalan in Amman last week as he prepared to fly to London, he showed no sign of concern that the Iraqi government had issued a warrant for his arrest on fraud charges.

Read the rest at the Times of London

Related Link:
Perspective: Missing billions

Related Link:
More than half a billion dollars stolen in Iraq