Iranian Gas passed off as Iraqi Origin

By John Lee.

Media in Pakistan report that Iranian LPG has been illegally imported into the country under the guise of Iraqi product.

According to Business Recorder, the latest case is one of five ships which are allegedly involved in the illegal import of Iranian LPG using a falsified declaration of origin.

Pakistan's Ministry of Interior (MoI) has reportedly directed the authorities to take action against the carrier.

More here.

(Source: Business Recorder)

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Refinery Targeted in Rocket Attack

By John Lee.

A rocket attack that targeted an oil refinery in the Khabat area of Erbil on Sunday has been widely condemned.

Six rockets were fired at the Kawergosk refinery, which is owned by KAR Group, reportedly damaging a storage tank.

The Iraqi Security Media Cell said it located a launch base near the Al-Fadhiliah area of Bashiqa district, in the Nineveh Plain, where a further four missiles were rendered rendered harmless.

Shafaq quotes a source as saying that one person sustained minor injuries in the attack.

In March, the home of the CEO of KAR Group, Baz Karim Barzanji, was badly damaged in a rocket attack attributed to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

(Sources: Iraqi Security Media Cell, Shafaq, Asharq al Awsat, NRT)

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What does Russia’s War in Ukraine mean for Iraq?

By Samuel Ramani, for The Middle East Institute. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

What does Russia's war in Ukraine mean for Iraq?

Although Iraq has avoided taking sides in Russia's war with Ukraine, the conflict could exacerbate factional divisions and profoundly impact the Iraqi economy's near-term trajectory.

While the strides made in Russia-Iraq cooperation over the past decade are unlikely to be destroyed by the war, Baghdad is likely to limit its cooperation with Moscow to essential spheres and overcome the impact of sanctions by embracing a genuinely multipolar foreign policy.

Click here to read the full article.

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IBBC Iraq Conference, London, Tuesday 24th May 

The IBBC Iraq conference at the Mansion House - meeting at a most important time for Iraq - Tuesday 24 May 

After a two-year absence, IBBC is back at the Mansion House hosting its Iraq conference on Tuesday May 24th focusing on finance, energy and sustaining economic growth in Iraq.

The country stands at another pivotal moment with a new government still in formation, record high oil and gas prices and a world supply crisis, in recovery mode after the pandemic and a strong desire to diversify the economy, grow the private sector and improve employment prospects, particularly for the young, a possible Iranian / US nuclear settlement, issues over water supply and food production, diversifying into renewable energy  and still much work to be done on repairing and renewing infrastructure, but progress being made on improving governance and hugely enhanced government revenue to provide business opportunities across all the sectors.

International interest in investing in Iraq remains strong with the Chinese (Rumaila) and French (Total) Governments being particularly aggressive and most recently a wish expressed by the Saudi Government to join them.

In each sector we are hosting influential Iraqi ministerial attendees including the Minister of Oil H.E. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael and Mr Kareem Hatta Deputy Oil Minister for Upstream Affairs, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, H.E Mr. Mustafa Ghalib Mukheef, the Minister of Youth and Sport H.E. Adnan Darjal Motar Al-Rubaye, as well as Ms Taif Al-Shakarchi, Deputy Minister of Finance , Dr Salem Chalabi, President & Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq, a delegation of Iraqi Private banks.

From the UK side Louis Taylor, Chief Executive of UKEF, UK Ambassador Mark Bryson- Richardson, BP President Iraq Zaid Elyaseri, and Richard Wilkins from JP Morgan will address the audience with latest developments and opportunities and Professor Frank Gunter will present his latest views on the political economy.

Principal panel subjects include developing the banking sector, project finance, energy transition and how to boost short term production, education and skills, insurance, in addition to an online Tech panel addressing the benefits of crypto currency.

For companies interested in Iraq, this is a prime opportunity to hear what some of the most important players, both government and private sector are saying and thinking, and an excellent place for networking with potential partners and customers from both national and international organisations.

For further information and to register - please follow the link below:

IBBC Spring Conference at the Mansion House, London - IBBC (iraqbritainbusiness.org)

A reminder to overseas attendees, to arrange for visas to UK within the next few days as is relevant for your country.

(Source: Iraq Britain Business Council)

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Iraqi Central Bank may Stop Financial Dealings with Russia

By Layal Shakir, for Rudaw. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi central bank suggests halting business, financial dealings with Russia

The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) on Wednesday suggested halting business operations and financial dealings with Russia following America's far-reaching sanctions as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues for the seventh day.

Click here to read the full article.

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How Corruption Erodes Healthcare in Iraq

By Mac Skelton and Abdulameer Mohsin Hussein, for the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

Medicine Under Fire - How Corruption Erodes Healthcare in Iraq

The April and July 2021 hospital fires in Nasiriya and Baghdad left hundreds dead, adding insult to injury for a medical system that had already buckled under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why did these deadly fires transpire?

In the media, journalists highlighted a lengthy series of contributing factors leading to the tragedy, including flimsy and highly flammable construction materials, the explosion of mismanaged oxygen tanks, electrical shorts, and a lack of fire safety equipment.

Underlying these defects, ordinary Iraqis pointed to a deeper cause: pervasive corruption in the healthcare sector. Corruption, they alleged, explained why it was that an oil-rich country had not built and maintained safe and secure health facilities.

This preliminary paper looks to the tragic phenomenon of mass-casualty hospital fires in Iraq's COVID-19 wards to kickstart a larger policy-oriented conversation on the political drivers, key mechanisms, and human costs of corruption in the healthcare sector.

Broadly speaking, the research contends that political parties in control of the healthcare system compromise the safety and efficacy of both public and private hospitals by systematically evading quality controls and maximizing profits from medical supply chains at all costs.

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung)

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Unaoil Bribery Conviction Quashed

By John Lee.

Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has had his conviction for bribery quashed by the UK's Court of Appeal today (Friday).

He had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment in July 2020 having been found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55-million contract to supply offshore mooring buoys in Iraq.

The court found that the refusal by Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to provide key documents to the defence was "a serious failure by the SFO to comply with their duty," adding that "that failure was particularly regrettable given that some of the documents had a clear potential to embarrass the SFO in their prosecution of this case."

Paul Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), which was a client of Unaoil, had his request for leave to appeal against his sentence denied.

The full judgement can be read here.

 More here, here and here.

(Source: England and Wales Court of Appeal - Criminal Division)

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First Women’s Protection Centre in Diwaniyah

The Governorate of Diwaniyah and UNFPA inaugurated today the first Women Protection Centre in the Governorate, with funding from Canada and Sweden.

The Centre will offer psychosocial and legal assistance,  medical counselling and protection for survivors of gender-based violence. Women and girls will be able to benefit from special programmes on empowerment, life skills and livelihood education.

The inauguration was attended by Mr Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, Governor of Diwaniyah,  Dr Yousra Al-Allak, Head of Women Empowerment Department and Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, as well as representatives from the civil society and women-led organisations.

Speaking at the event, the Governor highlighted the centre's importance to women and girls in Diwaniyah:

"Women play an important role in our society. Diwaniyah is proud to establish a centre that provides a comprehensive package of services for survivors of gender-based violence. When women are protected and provided with the right tools, they can thrive."

For his part, Dr Yousra Al-Allak reiterated:

"Establishing a Protection Women Centre is a very good first step. However, to ensure the proper development of Iraq, we need legislation that protects women and girls from gender-based violence and ensures their rights are preserved".

In her speech, Dr Columbia emphasised the importance of safe spaces for women and girls survivors of any form of violence. She thanked the local authorities, Women Empowerment Department and civil society for their efforts to prevent and respond to GBV.  She called on other governorates to follow this example to take concrete steps towards eliminating gender-based violence in Iraq.

Speeches also called the Parliament to adopt the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and endorse the legal framework for gender-based violence service provision and protection of women.

(Source: UN)

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IBBC’s Autumn Conference – Open for Business Engagement

IBBC's Autumn conference is back with a bang and open for business engagement.

On 22nd November this year the overarching conference topic is looking to the future with 'sustainability'- whether in terms of energy and renewables, the Iraqi economy and its diversification, or sustaining finance, logistics and training. Underpinning much of this is the application of technology and modernising ways to run a successful economy, with the tech forum's online sessions.

With a successful election now completed and a new government being formed, it's a good time to discuss the prospects for reform and sustainability.

IBBC members find that the Autumn conference is probably the best forum to meet the leaders in the region and those engaged with provision of supply chains and decision making. Many of Iraq's industry sectors have regional headquarters in Dubai, which enables the high turnout and interest in the networking opportunities.

The current speaker line-up is probably the best for some years, featuring the Iraqi Minster of Oil H.E. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael giving a keynote speech, H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade. Dr Salem Chalabi, President and Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq, Iraqi Ambassador to the UAE H.E. Mudaffar Mustafa Al Jubouri and UK ambassador Mr Mark Bryson-Richardson, Mr Simon Penny, UK's Consul General and Trade Commissioner for the region, and top academic Professor Frank Gunter on the economic outlook for Iraq.

For those engaged with energy, Mr Zaid Elyaseri from BP will be speaking, and Dunia Chalabi will be representing new Iraqi entrants Total, who have signed contracts to invest USD 27 billion in and plan to bring in hundreds of expatriates into Iraq to develop the Ar-Ratawi oil field and build gas capture, solar power and injection water facilities. Leading figures from Oilserve, Ms Sara Akbar, and Hydro-C, Mr Hassan Heshmat, will discuss sustainable energy, and a separate session will be voted to Basrah Gas Company.

The Finance panel includes a stella line up with Emirates Credit Insurance Co, Standard Chartered Bank and IFC. Mr Aziz Khudairi heads the Industry panel and a significant group including Martrade and IBBC Autumn Conference Principal Sponsor Sardar Group.

Finally, and in parallel, an online Tech forum session on Data and its benefits to Government, Economies, business, and citizens, will include speakers from UK's GDS, British Water, Agri-epicentre, Serco and Mastercard with more to be confirmed.

Overall, the panels will be exploring in more detail how to ensure the current high oil and gas prices can bring investment and rebalance the economy and promote and develop agriculture and enhance the food chain to increase employment and reduce food poverty. These discussions will also address how to improve the water supply and waste reduction and consider the role of clean power generation in relation to climate change and initiatives to improve sustainability.

We look forward to welcoming you to Dubai, or even following us online if you are unable to make it in person.

A pre-conference reception will be held at the Iraqi Pavilion at Dubai EXPO2020 in the evening of 21st November.

Finally, we'd very much like to thank our sponsors: Principal Sponsor Sardar Group, Gold Sponsor: Hydro-C, Silver Sponsor: Serco and Reception Sponsor: Basra Gateway Terminal

(Source: IBBC)

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Petrofac Fined $105m; Shares Rally Futher

By John Lee.

Shares in Petrofac were trading up more than 7 percent on Monday, as the company was ordered to pay GBP 77 million [$105 million] after the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured further convictions in its investigation into bribery and corruption at the Jersey-registered energy services company.

On Friday, Petrofac Limited pleaded guilty to seven separate counts of failing to prevent bribery between 2011 and 2017.

Petrofac Limited admitted that it failed to prevent former senior executives of the Petrofac Group from paying GBP 32 million (USD 44 million) in bribes, to help the Petrofac Group win over GBP 2.6 billion (USD 3.5 billion) of contracts in the oil and gas industry in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Court heard how, over a period of six years, senior executives within the Petrofac Group engaged in elaborate schemes to corrupt the awarding of contracts, using agents to systematically bribe officials to win lucrative contracts by unfair and dishonest means.

A key feature of the case was the complex and deliberately opaque methods used by these senior executives to pay agents across borders, disguising payments through sub-contractors, creating fake contracts for fictitious services and, in some cases, passing bribes through more than one agent and one country, to disguise their actions.

Lisa Osofsky, Director, Serious Fraud Office, said:

"By pleading guilty, Petrofac Limited has accepted that senior executives within the Petrofac Group acted deliberately and without conscience in the pursuit of greed. The company's failure to prevent this conduct distorted competitive market conditions and tainted the oil and gas industry.

"Today's result should serve as a warning; the SFO will use all the powers at its disposal to root out and prosecute companies and individuals, whose criminal activity detrimentally affects the reputation and integrity of the United Kingdom.

"The SFO welcomes Petrofac Limited taking responsibility for its conduct."

This is the third set of convictions secured by the SFO in its four-year investigation into cross-border corruption at the Petrofac Group. David Lufkin, former Head of Sales at Petrofac pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery in 2019 and 3 counts of bribery in 2021.

Lufkin was today sentenced to a two-year custodial sentence, which was suspended for 18 months. In addition to pleading guilty, David Lufkin co-operated with SFO investigators and assisted with the investigation.

The SFO continues to investigate this case.

Petrofac Chairman René Médori said:

"This draws a line under a regrettable period of our history. We have taken responsibility, reformed and learned from these past mistakes, as acknowledged by the SFO and the Court. Most importantly, the extensive work that we have done since the SFO investigation began means that the Petrofac of today has a comprehensive compliance and governance regime that meets or exceeds international best practice.

"The past behaviour uncovered by the SFO would not be possible today, and we look to the future a better and more focused company, well positioned to capitalise on the opportunities we see before us."

(Sources: SFO, Petrofac)

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