Iraq to launch probe on new Central Bank building costing over $800 mln

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An investigative committee in Iraq revealed details of what it called the “explosive contract” of the country’s proposed new Central Bank building.

Iraq’s Sairoon coalition’s deputy, Abbass Allawi, said on Saturday that the committee that was formed for the Central Bank building project would search the cost of the huge contract, and the reasons why its establishment wasn’t granted to the companies under the authority of the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction.

In a press statement, Allawi added that the committee consists of members of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, which allowed MPs to join the investigation process as well in order to audit the signed contract between the Central Bank and the Azerbaijani company that carried out the project.

Allawi highlighted that the committee would investigate the cost in the contract which is estimated at $800 million.

The Central Bank had signed the contract with the Azerbaijani company, at a time when the Iraqi government had declared bankruptcy and austerity as ISIS stormed several governorates. Allawi clarified that at this time, the government efforts were directed towards fighting the terrorist attacks and not signing contracts with foreign companies.

He added that the committee would work to reveal all the details of the contract within the coming days as the money spent to build the Central Bank is “explosive.”

The parliament had voted on Saturday, to form this committee.

In January 2012, the Iraqi Central Bank had signed a contract with the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid’s office to design the new Central Bank building. The choice of the company that would implement the project was left for the consultative entities in the Central Bank.

18 companies had submitted their designs, and according to the legal procedures, four of those remained for filtering.

Former MP Nadhim al-Saidi said he was surprised that the Central Bank intended to build a new building, especially with this amount of money. He stated that about 70 million dollars were already spent to repair the current building.

“We are surprised that the Central Bank intends to build a new building, especially with that amount of money, 850 million dollars, which is equivalent to a trillion Iraqi dinars,” Saidi said. He explained that this amount can complete all water, sewage and schools projects, which were delayed due to the country’s financial crisis.

Saidi added that these should be have been aptly allocated to pay the dues of the farmers and contractors.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s parliament is to investigate how $6 million worth of local currency stored in public bank coffers were damaged by heavy rains, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

The pledge came a day after Central Bank governor Ali Allaq appeared in front of lawmakers to answer questions on a range of issues, including the case which dates back five years.

“At the end of 2013, the vaults of the Rafidain Bank were flooded because of huge rains at the time, damaging the bills that were stored there,” he said.

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