Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shady Deals Catch-Up with Al-Bunnia Family

IraqSlogger reported this first a few days ago, but nothing about it made it to the major media outlets even though the story carries serious implications for doing business in Iraq. The Higher Council of the Judiciary has issued arrest warrants for Khalil Bunnia, Sa’adoun Bunnia, and two other members of the Bunnia family as well as one of their managers on the charge of terrorism. Furthermore, the court has instructed Iraqi banks to freeze the assets of the Bunnia family. It should be noted that the Bunnias control the private Al-Warka’ Bank.

The founder of the family’s fortunes had three sons and they established three branches in the Bunnia family: the Abdel-Latif Bunnia branch, the Abdel-Wahhab Bunnia Branch and the Sa’adoun Bunnia branch. The family claims descent from the ‘Ubeid tribe, but they could be of South Asian extraction.

The charge stems from an official inquiry into a murder that occurred on July 10, 2007 in Sadr City in which several members of the Bunnia family are allegedly implicated. This could be the tip of the iceberg since there are many allegations against the Bunnia family, especially against Khalil Bunnia, for his mercantile role as a front for Saddam’s intelligence service, the mukhaberat, especially in Athens. The Bunnias have allegedly maintained their relationships with members of the ex-regime which could account for other allegations of shady wire transfers that may have ended up supporting the insurgency.

The family is decrying these investigations as “sectarian-driven” (the Bunnias are Sunni) and are claiming that it is all part of a shake-down racket involving an investigator called Salim Muheibis.

This is a copy of the order from the Central Bank freezing the Bunnia assets:

Here's the translation:

In the Name of Allah the Merciful

[Republican Logo]

Central Bank of Iraq

General Directorate for Overview of Exchange and Credit
(The Credit Information Sharing Branch)

[handwritten, Issue no. 9/4/3564]
[handwritten, Date December 4, 2007]

To: Banks licensed to perform all exchange [operations]

Subject: Putting the term of “hold”

In reference to the order from the Higher Council of the Judiciary, the Central Investigations Court, Kharkh [District], serialized 10640 and dated on November 14, 2007.

We are listing the full names of the following escaped defendants in whose names an arrest warrant has been issued according to article 4 “Terrorism”; kindly fulfill the decision of this court in their case by freezing their mobile and immobile assets.

1. Saad Sa’adoun Mahmoud Jasim [Bunnia] Mother's Name: Samira Sa’id
2. Khalil Abdel-Wahhab Mahmoud Jasim [Bunnia] Nahideh Ibrahim Rahmani
3. Jasim Abdel-Wahhab Mahmoud Jasim [Bunnia] Nahideh Ibrahim Rahmani
4. Hassan Abdel-Wahhab Mahmoud Jasim [Bunnia] Nahideh Ibrahim Rahmani
5. Abdul-Ghaffar Ahmed Muhammed ____________

Kindly do what is appropriate to execute what was ordered by the decision above and to disseminate this to all your branches and to let us know of that.

With Regards…

General Director
For the Overview of Exchange and Credit
Ali Hassan Abu Nayleh

Copy to:
-the Office of the Chairman [of the Central Bank] …
- Higher Council of the Judiciary, the Central Investigations Court, …

The Bunnias have made hundreds of millions of dollars through subcontracting deals with American corporate giants (such as Bechtel) and the US military over the last four years, according to several sources. However, there have been persistent rumors that part of the Bunnia family “style” is to bribe US executives and officials in order to have business diverted their way.

One of the initial goals set for the Higher National Commission for De-Ba’athification was to go after families like the Bunnias who had made a lot of money under the Saddam regime and by performing intelligence services for the latter in order to deny them prosperity in the new Iraq. Yet it seems that the Bunnias seem to have deflected these attempts by “sharing” their good fortune with some Iraqi officials. Other leading targets that seem to have gotten off the hook and have made billions of dollars over the last few years in addition to what they managed to get under Saddam are the Khawwam family, Tariq Al-Abdullah [Al-Halbousi], the Khirbeet family and the Hmayim family.

It should be noted that one of the defendants, Sa'ad Sa'adoun Mahmoud Bunnia, was briefly detained in May 2005. But in October 2006, new arrest warrants were issued for Saad Bunniya in relation to the Hazem Shalan, Ziyad Gattan, and Na'er al-Jumaili Ministry of Defense scandals. Here are copies of the warrants:

UPDATE (December 31st, 2007):

The Bunnias are intent on selling at least half of al-Warka' Bank given their recent troubles, sources say. However, the deal is at stake because the person who is supposed to be buying up this half from behind the scenes is Emad al-Juburi, former owner of the bankrupt al-Baraka Bank. Al-Juburi is prohibited by Iraqi law from doing such things, so he is operating through a frontman. Too many people know about this nefarious deal at this point, so all bets are off.

UPDATE (December 3rd, 2007):

In addition to the threat posted by Saad Bunnia in the comments section, he also sent this letter to my e-mail address:

From: saad al-bunnia (ceo@warka-bank-iq.com)
Message: dear Mr Kazimi,i have read your article that was published in the net regarding the bunnia family problem and i would like to draw your attention to the real issues behind all these alleged fraudilant cases which was put against me. i have actually replied my comments on the same page but i wanted you to know the real issues. but before i start, i would have asked you to think twice about what false allegations that has been put forward to you since you are a respectable person and should not be directed by some people who ask you to write bad issues about me. i would like you to publish this letter in the net so that people know the truth of what is going on and i would have thought that a good person like you should investigate the issues to give a true and clear vision on the issue so that people have respect in what you write.You should have read what the bayana aljadida newspaper who speaks for a the lot of the people in the government and compare it with some of the juridical system that we already have in iraq. i am sure you will be astonished.it would have been much better if you have investigated what the local papers that are printed in iraq which represent the voice of the peoiple of iraq and not what people send copy of documments that does not extend to the truth of the issue because the legal law in iraq after the war permitted anybody to direct terrorist cases against people which is due to the corruption of the system that we have in iraq. if you want, you can send me your e-mail so that i can send you this and other press releases which was made. you can find my e-mail address from our bank website.i hope that i can exchange letters between us so that you can give the true picture of the case as this issue does not worry me as people in iraq know who saad al-bunnia is and the truth will be open top everybody very soon and as the say says if you get stabbed in the back , do not worry because you are in front.dear sir, we remain

saad al-bunnia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

great article, i would love to see you spend more time exposing the filthy businessmen that are still stealing our country, both the ones from saddam's days and the new ones.

12:28 AM, December 18, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should point out that the Saad Bunnia, the guy with the earlier arrest warrants, is the chairman of Warka Bank. Many Americans have invested money in this bank as a show of support in the Iraqi economy and they are in danger of losing their investments because the money could be used for terrorism and organized crime and the bank may get shut down at any moment.

3:39 AM, December 18, 2007

Blogger Iraqi Mojo said...

Interview with an Al Qaeda terrorist who fought in Iraq

Interviewer: Did you meet Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi?

Jawhar: Sheik Abu Mus'ab did not appear very often. Not all the brothers met him. But sometimes, Sheik Abu Mus'ab would conduct a visit to our bases, and he would come unannounced. We would be sitting around, and the guys would walk in along with the sheik. They would sit with us for 15 minutes, half and hour, and then they would say goodbye and move on.

Interviewer: What exactly did he ask you to do?

Jawhar: Once he sent a brother as his representative, and asked me to carry out operations in the Baghdad area.

Interviewer: Did you carry them out?

Jawhar: Yes, Allah be praised.

Interviewer: What kind of operations?

Jawhar: Car bombings and killings. Regular stuff. What else could he be asking from us?

12:53 PM, December 18, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

Short comedy, the ISI kills 3 Americans in Baghdad province

Jawhar: Car bombings and killings. Regular stuff. What else could he be asking from us?

And why did you end on that quote Mojo, what are you trying to say?
That you condemn killing, while this man boasts of killing?

For your information, O condemner of killing, the Coalition has killed more people than AQM has.
The difference is that the Crusaders kill mostly random innocents, and Iraqis whose crime is "possessing fictional WMD while Ay-rab"

whilst in contrast: the ISI targets those who need to be targeted, i.e. the Coalition and their assistants.

But being an Iraqi yourself, I find it hard to believe that you are unaware that Al-Qaعida Iraq dissolved in 2006,
so you appear to be mouthing jew/Crusader terminology on purpose.

Now let's see how the interview continues after the part you highlighted for us.

Interviewer: What kind of operations?

Jawhar: Car bombings and killings. Regular stuff. What else could he be asking from us?

Interviewer: Against Iraqis, or...

Jawhar: No, against the Americans.

Oh. You left that part out, how strange. Ran out of space eh, it happens.

4:06 PM, December 19, 2007

Blogger Iraqi Mojo said...

Right! We all know how Al Qaeda targets *only* Americans with their car bombs! LOL!

The backward idiots would kill 34 Iraqi kids just to kill one American soldier.

the Coalition has killed more people than AQM has.

Dream on, Jag. The coalition has killed more TERRORISTS than AQI has.

7:50 AM, December 20, 2007

Blogger bg said...


*sigh*, Jags support is crumbling..

Senior Qaeda Theologian Urges
His Followers To End Their Jihad


[One of Al Qaeda's senior theologians is calling on his followers to end their military jihad and saying the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a "catastrophe for all Muslims."

In a serialized manifesto written from prison in Egypt, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif is blasting Osama bin Laden for deceiving the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, and for insulting the Prophet Muhammad by comparing the September 11 attacks to the early raids of the Ansar warriors. The lapsed jihadist even calls for the formation of a special Islamic court to try Osama bin Laden and his old comrade Ayman al-Zawahri.]

[Originally rounded up in the arrests following the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, Mr. Sharif served in an Egyptian jail with Ayman al-Zawahri, who would later go on to be the deputy to Mr. bin Laden. In 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks, Mr. Sharif was arrested in Yemen and was later sent to Egypt in 2003 or 2004.

His latest texts are a renunciation of his earlier work, saying the military jihad or war against apostate states and America is futile. But the ex-jihadist also calls into question the virtue of Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri. In some ways the manifesto reads in parts like a spicy Washington memoir by an embittered former official.

Of his old associates he writes, "Bin Laden, al-Zawahri, and others fled at the beginning of the American bombing [in Afghanistan], to the point of abandoning their wives and families to be killed along with other innocent people," according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute. It goes on, "I think that a sharia court should be established, composed of reliable scholars, to hold these people accountable for their crimes — even if in absentia — so that those who are ignorant in their religion do not repeat this futility."

Mr. Sharif also says Mr. Zawahri informed on his friends after he was arrested following the Sadat assassination in 1981. "I don't know of anyone in Islamic history having committed such deceit, fraud, falsification, and betrayal of trust with such hostility to someone else's book, and perverted it - no one before Ayman al-Zawahri," he wrote.]

[But Mr. Gunaratna also said he believed Mr. Sharif's conversion was genuine. "He has had a genuine change of heart because we are seeing a trend today in Egypt where the original members of both of the major jihadist organizations are turning, the senior members of these groups, many have gone back and been remorseful," he said. "He is not an exception because there is a trend. . . The traditional jihad movement is almost coming to an end. What has it accomplished in more than 25 years?"]


10:17 AM, December 21, 2007

Blogger Ikez said...

Very interesting post. The more info on exposing any Baathist criminals still at large the better. It continues to amaze me how closely many of the remaining Baathists are with al Qaeda.

12:50 PM, December 21, 2007

Anonymous gj said...

Nibras, this is not on your topic but you might be interested to know the newly elected (Labor) Prime Minister of Australia has just made a surprise visit to Baghdad, where he met with Prime Minister Maliki and invited him to visit Australia next year.

This is a very interesting endorsement of the Maliki Govt as the Labor Party here opposed Australia's committment to the war and the anti war movement is very vocal here. Also I think it is the first time - apart from the US - that Maliki has received such an invite to a western country?

For me it was good to see the democratically elected government of Iraq being paid the respect it is due!

6:14 PM, December 21, 2007

Anonymous gj said...

Just to add to that, Rudd our new Labor PM would not have been endorsing Maliki in this way except from the most base of political motives: obviously the intelligence he has been privy to since taking office only 3 weeks ago has persuaded him the Sunni insurgency is all but over and if Oz is to resume its once lucrative wheat deals (with Saddam - it was part of the OFF rort) then the Iraq govt needs to be warmly endorsed!

11:14 PM, December 21, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many of those who stole our fortunes and how many are doing that now. Bunnias and Khirbeets are replaced now by other families known to all Iraqis.
If Iraqis won democracy then they need education to elect those who will give the people their fortunes.

11:48 AM, December 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this article was brought to my attention from many friends who know me very well and are directing my attention to show how many people like the writer of this article has hatred towards me as well as those who put the comments as it seems that they do not know what they are saying.if they are brave enough may i ask them to send me their addresses so that i can write to them and sue them for misleading people to the wrong direction.It is very easy to stab people in the back as a lot of people do this for a living in order to gain some money especially in the new iraq that we are living in . this is due to the fact that there is high unemployment and it is easy money to gain without any sweat. this is even worse than kidnapping which is happening now in iraq.
i do not need to defend myself as i am known by most of the people and you as readers should check the press and see what local people have written about me which proves my case.
what ever i did in iraq in the past four years no one has done in their lives. at least i did not steal from no body or the government like most people we hear of but on the contrary, i as one person have created 860 jobs i.e i am supporting 860 families.
i was aressted in the year 2005 because of envy of people of my sucess because they wanted the business that i was doing which was transfering funds for the ministry of defence. a lot of people especially competitors will not like the way warka bank is operating and the huge success that we are doing were we are a threat to other people as no one is doing the hard work that we are doing.
i just want to ask those people who write these messages, what have you done for iraq. i am sure they have no answer but i am proud to ask you to go into the bank web site and see what we have done.
with regards to the central bank letter, kindly send me an e-mail on my e-mail adress which could be found in the bank website and i can send it to you to read.By the way, this is the result of a family problem over the control of the business which has been going on for the past 28 years and my family have used the present situation of coruption to take such an action.
last but not least, just consider the saying :a fruitful tree is always gets thrown by stone.
i am there for you if you need any other information.
saad sadoon al-bunnia

11:02 AM, January 02, 2008

Blogger Samar said...

well said saad!
Firstly,I would like to piont out that most of these bloggers are infact cowards.They are being anonymous,afraid of their own identity i presume! Secondly,Mr.Kazimi,you implied that Mr.Saad "threatened";sorry,but I. dont see any threat in his writing.
Thirdly,one of your anonymous bloggers was bringing the attention to the american investors of warka to "take care";well,I think these investors are smart enough and do thier homework regularly to know whats in their best interests.
Fourthly,it was written in your artical or blog that the bunnias themselves are selling half of warka to get rid of it..just want to say:(and you can quote me)"over our dead bodies"
Last but not least,please get your facts right and stop being what others say "ahil al iraq, ahil alshiqaq wa alnifaq"

3:17 AM, January 11, 2008

Blogger eda said...




12:58 AM, October 10, 2009

Anonymous Peter M said...

Dear Sir,

I feel sorry for the Al Bunnia family and this negative and false publicity. I'm a former naval officer who worked very closely with Mr. Abdul Wahab Al Bunnia and his son, Mr. Mustafa Al Bunnia in 2004.

In ever way, they proved themselves to be honorable, kind, and decent people. For 100 years the family survived and thrived in that region through many different governments and countries. They managed this through a simple principle of staying away from politics and protecting their name and integrity for the long-term.

I watched the Al Bunnia company bid and lose probably mores bids than they won. Everything was done above board and in compliance with all rules and regulations. The simple truth is that very few other business groups in Iraq have or had the capacity to carry out the work that the US government and its contractors required. This was a significant but fair competitive advantage.

You should focus on the facts and just the facts. It's very clear in Iraq that many people in power are using their positions for personal gain. The US and its allies will need good business families like the Al Bunnias to jump start the Iraqi economy, employ Iraqi citizens, and help lead the country to prosperity.

Kind regards,
Peter M

10:32 AM, November 29, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today twin suicide car bombings in central Baghdad kill 26 and more than 50 others were also hurt when the vehicles exploded simultaneously outside the Commercial Bank of Iraq's headquarters in the Yarmouk district., this terrorist attack is done by Al-Bunni’s followers from Baath party and al-Qaeda (Sunni brothers)
Fuck Saddam and Fuck Al-Bunnia and Fuck all cheap sectarian mercenary like Nibras al-Kazimi

11:55 AM, June 20, 2010

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