First there was Bernie Madoff, then there was the 'Lebanese Madoff', and now there's an 'Iraqi Madoff.'
Real name: Abdel-Zahra al-Shalooshi (from Nassiriyah). Damages: $25 million. Victims: allegedly 1,200 Iraqi families in Michigan. Scam: take your money and invest it in Iraq. Political affiliations: Nouri al-Maliki's office, Sherwan al-Wa'ili. Political Recriminations: Maliki's people allege this is a media plot by Adel Abdel-Mahdi to make the PM look bad.
I first heard about this in Baghdad a couple of months ago from a Michigan-based Iraqi. Now the story is out in the open on Iraqi websites. There's to be a demonstration in front of the Iraqi Consulate in Detroit by the victims on October 2.
I don't know when the local American press in Detroit has written about this, but it does seem like a juicy story. 25 million may seem paltry by Madoff standards, but it is a very big deal for a mostly southern Shia Iraqi pool of investors (some Chaldeans got hoodwinked too) who came to the US as refugees in the early 1990s. Lots of talk of home foreclosures and the such.