Iraq Unveils Groundbreaking Handbook for Enhancing Financial Investigations and Upholding the Rule of Law
29 November 2023
Tuesday, 27th November 2023, Baghdad Iraq - This week, Iraq took a significant stride toward combatting crimes, that generate illicit gain, by launching a Financial Investigations Handbook. The handbook aims to enhance the effectiveness of financial investigations throughout the country.
“This is a first of its kind, and I commend the efforts of those who took part in its development. Iraq's success in confiscating assets generated from money laundering crimes is evidence of its commitment to the international standards for combating money laundering and terrorism financing,” His Excellency Dr. Faeq Zaidan, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Council said while opening the launch ceremony.
The Handbook is poised to become a critical asset in the country's pursuit of accountability and the establishment of a robust financial system. It is a comprehensive guide, designed in simple and accessible language, with the goal of equipping Iraqi authorities with the necessary knowledge and techniques to effectively investigate financial irregularities and illicit activities. By providing clear instructions and practical insights, the handbook empowers law enforcement agencies, auditors, and legal professionals to uncover hidden financial trails, expose corrupt practices, and ensure justice is served.
"Our investigative judges and judicial investigators participated in a series of workshops on financial investigations organized by the UNDP, which had a big impact on the procedures applicable to investigate organized crimes including corruption, narcotics and money laundering crimes,” said HE Judge Abd Aljabar Azeez Hasan, Chief Justice of the Judicial Council of the Kurdistan Region.
Judge Kawa Fathi Maasom, the President of the Prosecution Agency of the KRI described the handbook as a practical guideline that unifies the Iraq financial investigation procedures, which are applied by the judiciary and law enforcement authorities.
These efforts were made possible with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq with funding from the United States Government.
“We commend the courage and persistence of those working in our 11 partner institutions on countering corruption, financial crimes, and money laundering. We also thank them for their trust in engaging with UNDP throughout this collaborative process of devising the Handbook for Financial Investigations, which we are launching today,” Mr. Auke Lootsma, the UNDP Iraq Resident Representative said during the event.
The launch was attended by the Presidents of the Federal and KRI Commissions of Integrity; the Presidents of the Federal and the KRI Board of Supreme Audits; and high-ranking officials from the Federal and KRI Ministries of Interior, the KRI Assayish Agency and the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Terrorism Financing Office of the Central Bank of Iraq.
By embracing this invaluable resource, Iraq sends a powerful message to its citizens and the international community that it is determined to root out corruption. The Financial Investigation Handbook serves as a beacon of hope, enabling Iraq to safeguard its financial integrity, attract foreign investment, and foster economic growth. With its release, Iraq takes a significant step forward in its fight against corruption, reinforcing its commitment to transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.
PRESS RELEASE ENDS.
About UNDP Iraq
UNDP in Iraq supports the Government of Iraq's efforts towards reconciliation, reform, and stability. Its support towards the development of Iraq’s Financial Investigations handbook is part of its work under the Security Sector Reform and Rule of Law Programme. The programme’s goal is to support the Government’s efforts toward long-term peace and stability through an improved security and justice sector. Its work on financial investigations and anti-money laundering is made possible with the generous contributions of the United States Government.
About the Financial Investigations Handbook
The handbook aptly called, the “Handbook of Financial Investigation Procedures” is a practical guide for conducting parallel, integrated financial investigations, for use by investigative judges and institutions who are responsible for conducting criminal investigations. In addition, it is intended to provide a consistent investigative procedure for obtaining, analyzing, summarizing, and presenting information and evidence obtained during a criminal investigation. Its primary use will be at the investigative and investigative management levels and provides a one-stop reference guide that:
- Explains the roles and responsibilities of all the institutions that are engaged in the investigation and prosecution process and the institutions that support those investigations.
- Provides step-by-step procedures to be utilized during the investigative process.
- Provides legal requirements and technical guidance related to international requests for evidence and assistance.
The handbook drafting process was a collaborative effort accomplished by a working group composed of representatives of eleven Iraqi institutions from the Federal and Kurdistan regions, including the Federal and the KRI judiciary, Federal Commission of Integrity, Commission of Integrity of the KRI, Ministries of Interior (Federal and KRI), Asayish of KRI, Federal Board of Supreme Audit, Board of Supreme Audit of the KRI, and AML - CFT Office (FIU).
For any country to achieve stability and economic progress, issues of corruption, money laundering, and other organized crime activities need to be addressed. This Financial Investigations Handbook is a tool that can assist Iraq in its efforts to address those types of criminal activities.
Success So Far
The establishment of the handbook working group represented a unique experience in Iraq – for the first time, a joint Federal–KRI resource group from the judiciary, prosecution and law enforcement investigators and auditors came together to prepare a Handbook – that is now the standard guide for financial investigation in Iraq.
The process of developing the handbook improved institutional ties and deepened collaboration between the 11 institutions that participated in its drafting. This collaboration has seen an increased application of joint investigative efforts, information exchange, investigative support, successful prosecution of crimes, and recovery of illicit financial gains. Yielding great results in recent cases; for example, the Iraq Commission of Integrity recovered 100 billion Iraqi dinars and a substantial number of properties and high-value vehicles.
The launch of the Financial Investigations Handbook aims to increase those efforts, leading to a deterrence of complex financial crimes – while encouraging the recovery of illicit gains to promote sustainable development in the country.
The Handbook is a dynamic, working document that will be reviewed and amended on a regular basis. A review methodology to seek feedback from the handbook’s users was adopted and will be used to update it continuously during its practical use.