In the wake of the imposition of sanctions by the US Treasury on two Iraqi and Syrian money service businesses for helping ISIL move money, Yalla has learned from high ranking Iraqi official, that up to 90 Iraqi firms stand accused of doing business with the extremist organisation.
Based on a decision made by the US Treasury on December 14th, any US based assets belonging to the Iraq based Selselat al Thahab Money Exchange and the Syrian Hanifa Currency Exchange companies, are to be frozen. The sanctions also prohibit US citizens are from trading with the two companies or the man who owns both, Fawaz Jubayr al-Rawi.
In an official statement the Treasury said: “Al-Rawi and the two money services businesses have played an important role in ISIL’s financial operations by helping the terrorist group move its money.”
A well-placed government source – who asked to remain anonymous as he is not officially authorised to discuss the matter – told Yalla: “An arrest warrant has been issued for the manager of Selselat al Thahab Money Exchange, and a police unit has been tasked to track down Al-Rawi and confiscate his assets.”
However, the officer admitted: “The company headquarters seem to have disappeared, and the manager is on the run.”
The company HQ was located on Al-Abbas Street in the city of Karbala, and it is believed that it moved as soon as the sanctions were handed down.
Selselat al Thahab Money Exchange is not alone in aiding ISIL, a fact confirmed by a spokesman of the Central Bank of Iraq – the highest financial authority in the country – who stated: “There was a list of companies issued before the sanctions were made by the US Treasury, to forbid any dealings with up to 90 exchanges, all suspected of being involved in financing terrorist acts in the governorates of Baghdad, Saladin, Anbar and Kirkuk.”
With around 2,000 such exchange companies in Iraq, the spokesman revealed: “The Central Bank is working towards reducing the number of companies to a manageable level that is compatible with the market. The current number of money exchange companies is too high for the staff allocated to keep them in check, making it difficult to track their activities.”
A member of the Iraqi Parliament Finance Committee, Majeda Al-Tamimy, has associated the excessive number of money exchange firms to the lack of an efficient system in terms of issuing official work permits.
Al Tamimi adds: “Some of the company owners obtain the permit to exchange currency, then sell the company for large amounts of money to other individuals, who will then use the company to move money for terrorist organisations.”
A financial advisor to the Prime Minister’s cabinet, Mudhir Mohammed Saleh, believes that blocking ISIL-linked financial companies, by the Central Bank of Iraq and the US Treasury, will prove to be crucial in the war against terrorism.
In a statement released last week, Saleh said: “Blacklisting the companies involved is a step in the right direction.”