Arabic press review: Iraq's $2.5bn corruption scandal
‘Outrageous embezzlement’ of Iraqi public money
Iraq's prime minister designate, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, has pledged to "restrain" rampant state corruption after it was revealed that the General Commission for Taxes had been defrauded of $2.5bn dollars, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported.
"We will never hesitate to take real measures to restrain corruption, which has brazenly spread through the agencies of the state and its institutions,” he said on Wednesday.
"We have made this file a priority and we will not allow the Iraqis' money to be robbed."
State news agency INA reported on Saturday that a government probe had found state money had been withdrawn from a state-owned bank.
The Iraqi Commission of Integrity said the case had been investigated and the judiciary would now decide on appropriate punishments for the fraudsters.
“The judiciary had previously issued summons orders to senior officials in the ministry due to loopholes that led to this major breach and the outrageous embezzlement of public money,” it wrote.
Endemic corruption within state institutions is widely blamed on lack of adequate public services and poor infrastructure in Iraq.
Sudani was appointed prime minister-designate last week after a year-long stalemate in Iraq's parliament over forming a new government. He now has a month to name a government, which will then face a vote in parliament to be formed.
Saudi Arabia to release Hamas representative ‘within days’
Saudi authorities plan to release Hamas representative Muhammad al-Khudari within days, Arabi 21 wrote on Thursday.
Al-Khudari, a go-between for Hamas and Saudi Arabia for two decades, was arrested with his son Hani in 2019 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for "financing a terrorist entity”. His sentence was later reduced to six years.
A Hamas source told Arabi 21 that Khudari will be deported to Jordan after his release.
Last September, Arabi 21 published a piece saying the Saudi authorities had deported Wejdan Al-Shanti, Al-Khudari’s wife, who was also detained in 2019.
Amnesty International has called on Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to release Al-Khudari, who has cancer and is deteriorating in prison, where he isn’t receiving the necessary medical treatment.
Egg farms across Egypt close
Some 40 percent of Egypt’s egg-producing farms have stopped production due to sky-rocketing costs, an official quoted in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said on Wednesday.
Deputy head of the egg division of the country’s General Federation of Poultry, Nabil Abdel-Fattah, said that producing a pack of 30 eggs now costs 80 Egyptian pounds ($4), while its market price is just 70 pounds ($3.50).
The price of a ton of soybeans has recently increased from 7,000 to 21,000 pounds, while corn has jumped from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds.
"Farm owners who are continuing to produce… in the hope that the conditions will improve are afraid of closing to avoid imprisonment,” said Abdel-Fattah.
“Most of their purchases of raw materials are made through deferred payment to the company owners, and in the event of closure the companies will resort to the judiciary [to retrieve funds through the courts]."
Tarek Abdel-Fattah, a wholesaler in Egypt, said his egg sales had declined by about 90 percent compared to the same period last year.