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
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.
For the Overview of Exchange and Credit
Ali Hassan Abu Nayleh
-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 (email@example.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