260+ attend IBBC Iraq Reconstruction Conference

IBBC welcomed 260+ delegates to Dubai to discuss ‘Iraq – Reconstruction & Rebuilding, how to deliver Vision’ with expert Industry, Government and International Organisations on 25th November

Iraq Britain Business Council held its annual Autumn Conference in Dubai yesterday on the 25th November at the Address Dubai Marina in Dubai.

The event hosted many speakers from the major companies operating in Iraq including IOCs, Logistics, Finance and Legal and Infrastructure, as well as Government Officials from the UK, UAE, Iraq, The World Bank and IMF to discuss the key issues facing Iraq’s economy today. IBBC welcomed over 260 delegates at the event for its largest ever attendance.

Under the Chairmanship of Vikas Handa, IBBC Representative in the UAE, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq opened the conference alongside H.E. Abdulla Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade & Industry Professor Sabah Mushatat, Prime Minister’s Advisor for Reconstruction and Investment. H.E. Bengan Rikani, Iraqi Minister for Housing, Reconstruction & Public Municipalities, Government of the Republic of Iraq. Michael Townshend, Regional President BP Middle East and Jon Wilks CMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq.

HE Abdulla Ahmed Al Saleh

IBBC was honoured to have HE Abdulla alSaleh give a keynote speech at the IBBC Conference in Dubai for the third year running, His Excellency reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to building a diverse and prosperous Iraq as per the IBBC’s mission statement. Professor Mushatat delivered a message from the Prime Minister of Iraq H.E. Adil Abdul-Mahdi delivering the PMs support for the development of the Private Sector and Foreign Enterprise in Iraq and complimenting IBBC as a trusted partner to achieve these goals.

H.E. Bengan Rikani spoke of the challenges ahead to meet the population growth of Iraq, the continuing efforts to rebuild liberated areas and the infrastructure projects underway. Ambassador Jon Wilks highlighted the importance of Iraq to the British economy, where trade has increased by 10% in the last year alone and stressed the commitment of PM Theresa May, Liam Fox MP Secretary of State for International Trade and DFID to facilitating Trade between the UK & Iraq.

“Now is the time to look again at the Iraq Market”
Her Majesty’s Ambassador Jon Wilks CMG

Michael Townshend reminded the audience that there was more Oil available globally than humanity could consume and that the Rumaila’s oilfield operated by BP in Iraq was not only one of the largest but also one of the most economic fields in the globe, providing Iraq with the lion share of its incomes.

Michael Townshend, BP

This year’s Agenda focused on the key issues of how Iraq can rebuild its towns and cities and develop its economy and evolving Infrastructure and Utilities with an emphasis on expanding Oil & Gas production, improving the Regulatory Framework and Financial systems and exploring the role of Logistics in moving people and materials into and around the country.

Conference Sessions & Speakers:

Logistics – Imports/Exports, People & Goods

Beverley Simpson, Director – Iraq, Department of International Trade; Rolls-Royce; SKA International Group; Basrah Gateway Terminal; G4S

Regulatory & Financial Framework – Encouraging International Investment

Management Partners; Dr Sabah Mushatat, Investment & Reconstruction Advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq; National Bank of Iraq; IMF; AFC Iraq Fund; Eversheds-Sutherland

Energy – Increasing Production

Shell; Chevron; GE

Infrastructure – Rebuilding & Utilities Supply

IFC; Wood; EAMES; Siemens; Prof. Frank Gunter, Lehigh University

Ms Duha Mohammed, Capital Bank of Iraq

The conference also featured the highly successful roundtable discussions, where delegates engaged in dynamic and concentrated debates on the country issues which matter most. Delegates also enjoyed a pre-conference reception on 24th November at the Address Dubai Marina, as well as many networking opportunities throughout the event.

IBBC would like to thank the efforts of its sponsors Rolls Royce, Serco, SKA International Group, Siemens, GE, Basra Gateway Terminal and Khudairi Group.

IBBC also held a Tech Forum on 25th November under the Chairmanship of IBBC Marketing Consultant Ashley Goodall. The forum ran in parallel to the conference at the same venue. Some of the most important innovators of Tech in Iraq spoke on Fintech, the Consumer Economy, E-Government and the Start-Up Economy. Speakers included representatives from EY Iraq, Avaya, Citi Bank, Restrata Group, Microsoft, Khudairi Group, VentureSouq, Careem and the International Development Bank.

IBBC is particularly grateful to Ms Suha Mohammed, DG for payments at the Iraqi Central Bank, and to Mr Hiwa Afandi, DG of the Information Technology Department of the Kurdistan Regional Government for participating in this event.

Tech companies are already disrupting the heavily state dominated Iraqi economy and are the bearers of hope for tangible change in a country that has an extremely young and tech savvy population and has an urgent need to create hundred of thousands new jobs every year.

For any enquires please email london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

Source: Iraq News

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GE, Standard Chartered, TBI close $600m Financing

By John Lee.

General Electric (GE), Standard Chartered Bank and the state-run Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) are reported to have jointly closed a $600-million financing agreement to fund the ambitious electricity project ‘Power Up Plan’ in Iraq.

According to Trade Arabia, the project will be implemented in two phases, providing more than 2 gigawatts (GW) of new power, and ensuring continuity of supply of up to 6.7 GW to Iraq’s grid.

The financing arrangement is said to be the largest bespoke Letter of Credit (LC) confirmation and discounting transaction of its kind in the region.

(Source: Trade Arabia)

Source: Iraq News

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Convictions in $600m Dinar Fraud

The co-owners and chief operating officer of one of the largest Iraqi dinar exchangers in the United States were convicted last month by a federal jury following a five-week trial.

Tyson Rhame, James Shaw, and Frank Bell were each convicted of mail and wire fraud conspiracy, as well as multiple counts of mail and wire fraud. Rhame and Bell were also convicted of making false statements to federal law enforcement agents.

“These executives engaged in a lengthy campaign to defraud investors by spreading lies about the investment potential of the Iraqi dinar,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “These convictions resulted from years of investigation, which included dozens of electronic and physical search warrants, hundreds of witness interviews, and extensive financial analysis.”

“The conviction of these three defendants is the result of an extensive effort by the government to protect investors from those who make unsubstantiated claims about the potential revaluation of a foreign currency,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Their greed led them to steal the hopes of unsuspecting investors and ultimately led them to their demise. The FBI and its partners make it a priority to root out and punish anyone who preys on investors for their own selfish desires.”

“This was a trial about fraudulent inducements, conspiracy, investment fraud and outright greed,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Rhame, Shaw, and Bell saw an opportunity to build their personal net worth and business position in the currency market by seizing on investors’ desire for high returns on their investments. At the end of the trial, the jury agreed with the government and found the Sterling Currency Group co-owners and chief operating officer guilty of the conspiracy and the underlying frauds. Despite the challenges these complex cases present, IRS-CI is committed to working with our partners at the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to show white-collar fraud is still an investigative priority.”

According to Acting U.S Attorney Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: Rhame and Shaw owned and operated the Sterling Currency Group, which was once one of the country’s largest sellers of the Iraqi dinar. Bell was Sterling’s chief operating officer. Between 2010 and June 2015, Sterling grossed over $600 million in revenue from the sale of the Iraqi dinar and other currencies, while Rhame and Shaw received over $180 million in distributions.

The evidence at trial established that the defendants took steps to make investors believe they would get rich by investing in the Iraqi dinar. At one point, Rhame posted information on Sterling’s website falsely suggesting that the dinar was about to revalue. At other times, Rhame and Bell falsely claimed that Sterling would cash out investors at airports around the country following a dinar “revaluation.” The defendants also paid substantial sums of money to third parties who in turn spread false information about the dinar on conference calls and Internet chat rooms.

Tyson Rhame, 53, and James Shaw, 55, both of Atlanta, Georgia, and Frank Bell, 55, of Decatur, Georgia, were convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and multiple mail and wire fraud counts. Rhame and Bell were also convicted of making false statements to federal agents regarding Sterling’s operations. The jury acquitted the defendants of money laundering charges. A fourth defendant, Terrence Keller, was acquitted of all charges at trial.

(Source: US Dept of Justice)

Source: Iraq News

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Iraqi Dinar may replace US Dollar in Iran-Iraq Trade

Iranian ambassador to Baghdad said Iran and Iraq are weighing plans to eliminate US dollar in trade transactions and also lift visa requirements for citizens of the two countries.

Speaking at a TV program on Saturday night, Iraj Masjedi said Tehran and Baghdad are considering plans to use Iraqi dinar for trade transactions or develop barter trade considering the banking problems caused by the US sanctions on Iran.

He also voiced Iran’s willingness to remove visa restrictions for travels between the two countries, saying the idea of lifting visa requirements for merchants and business people was discussed during Iraqi President Barham Salih’s Saturday visit to Tehran.

Masjedi highlighted the ample opportunities available for the Iranian business sector available in the Iraqi market, saying the Baghdad government welcomes foreign investments.

“The government of Iraq is seeking foreign investment in the economic field, and has now offered 1,200 projects worth $100 billion,” the ambassador added.

He assured Iranian investors of improving security in Iraq, saying the security conditions in the Arab country’s inland and border regions have been getting better since the defeat of the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.

The Iraqi president visited Tehran on Saturday with a ranking delegation for a series of political and economic talks.

After high-profile talks between the Iranian and Iraqi delegations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the two neighbors can increase their annual trade from the current $12 billion to $20 billion.

Rouhani also noted that the two sides discussed ways for cooperation in the energy, power and oil industry, including the extraction of petroleum, and a plan to connect the two countries’ railroad networks.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Source: Iraq News

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KRG “starts paying its Debts to Contractors”

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has reportedly started repaying its debts, clearing half of what it owes to private banks and 10 percent of what it owes contractors.

According to Rudaw, the KRG will now service its remaining debts every month.

KRG finance minister Rebaz Hamlan (pictured) told the news agency that the regional government has dedicated $100 million from its oil revenues to pay contractors in the Kurdistan Region.

Full story here.

(Source: Rudaw)

Source: Iraq News

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Security forces have reportedly confiscated many USD and Euro bills and 88 million Iraqi Dinars (IQD) in counterfeit banknotes in Erbil province since the start of 2018.

According to Kurdistan24, 100 suspects have been arrested for dealing and trading in counterfeit dinar.

Full story here.

(Source: Kurdistan24)

Source: Iraq News

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Advertising Feature

By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Turkish Nationality: The Most Desired Citizenship Program among GCC Expats

Citizenship by Investment programs have been witnessing some major changes and one of them is the introduction of the new Turkish citizenship program which was published on the Official Gazette and entered into force in September 2018. The new law requires a minimum Real Estate investment of USD 250,000 and the citizenship could be obtained in approximately 6 months.

With over 4 million Arabs residing in Turkey, the country is certainly one of the most desirable destinations for Middle Eastern people. Historically Arabs feel at home in Turkey, love Istanbul and the demand for the newly launched citizenship program shows so. Turkey has the 17th largest economy in the world and its on its way to hit the 1 billion USD mark in GDP in 2020.

In 2018 Turkey has seen an increase in real estate sales by over 20%. This is largely due to the drop of the property prices after the imposed US sanctions that weakened the Turkish Lira. Buying a property in Turkey today is almost 50% cheaper than a year ago only due to the exchange rate.  With the amendment of the citizenship legislation, sales in Turkey are set to fly.

There are many advantageous aspects of becoming a Turkish citizen. Firstly, investors can obtain the citizenship without ever residing in Turkey and within a period of approximately 6 months from submission of the citizenship application.

There is a high number of expats from countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Egypt to name a few, who currently reside in the GCC, facing difficulties to obtain visas due to their current passports and looking for options. Turkey poses a good investment choice for them as it allows the option of owning property as well as a strong passport simultaneously and the possibility of moving to Turkey if they wish.

Turkey offers applicants the eligibility to become citizens through multiple ways such as a fix deposit of USD 500,000 for 3 years in a bank operating in Turkey; a fixed capital investment; or even generate employment in Turkey. However, the most interesting option is through investing in Turkey’s suppressed real estate market.

Investors are scrambling to find the property of their choice to qualify for the citizenship knowing that they can sell it after 3 years and keep the citizenship for life. An additional advantage is that the property can be passed to children without paying any form of inheritance tax.

A foreigner acquiring Turkish citizenship by investment has the same rights as any Turkish born in the country, therefore for those wanting to make Turkey their home this is a great advantage having the same level of equality, included the ability to pass the citizenship to future generations. The Turkish passport allows  visa free travel to 111 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other major countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Investors do not need to reside in Turkey at any point in time, which means they do not need to disrupt their lives and can just keep it as an option for the future. Spouse and all dependents under 18 years of age are eligible for the Turkish citizenship as well.

If the investor decides to live in Turkey, the country offers amazing quality of services and is considered to be one of the most low-cost places to live in. Basic costs like Electric and gas, council tax, rent, renovations, maintenance, food and drink, everyday groceries, transport and even petrol costs are just a fraction of what it costs in the EU and other developed countries.

Turkey’s infrastructure makes transport in Turkey convenient and reliable with easy access to a number of airports all year round, your journey home is normally within half an hour in most popular locations.

Source: Iraq News

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 Rebuilding & Reconstruction

– Iraq –

Delivering the Vision

Register Now

IBBC returns to Dubai on 25 November with a full agenda of expert speakers to discuss the most important issues facing Iraq’s economy.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan & Kazakhstan will open the conference, alongside H.E. Mr Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade & Industry, H.E. Mr Bangen Abdullah Rekani, Iraq’s Minister for Housing, Reconstruction & Public Municipalities, Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Michael Townshend the Regional President of BP Middle East and Jon Wilks CMG Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq.

A delegation of high-profile Iraqi Governmental Officials will be in attendance including Dr Hamid Ahmed, Deputy Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee (PMAC), Dr Sabah Mushatat, Investment and Reconstruction Advisor of the Prime Minister, Mr Louay Al-Yassiri, Governor of Najaf, Mr Nawjad Hadi, Governor of Erbil, Dr Wijdan Salim, PMAC and Mr Abas Imran, Technical DG, Ministry of Transport. Delegates will have the opportunity to engage with the speakers in dynamic and concentrated debates during Roundtable Discussions. Further Iraqi officials are expected to confirm their attendance in the coming weeks.

Other confirmed speakers include Christopher M. Cantelmi, Principal – Infrastructure & Natural Resources – International Finance Corporation (World Bank) and Kareem K. Ismail, Resident Representative for Iraq and Yemen, International Monetary Fund (IMF). Additional expert speakers are drawn from the Department of International Trade, Shell, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, Serco, SKA International Group, Basrah Gateway Terminal, Khudairi Group, G4S, National Bank of Iraq, Management Partners, EY, AFC Iraq Fund, Chevron, Wood and more.

Download the Full Agenda

Conference sessions will focus on:

  • Infrastructure, Rebuilding & Utilities Supply 
  • Oil & Gas – Increasing Production
  • Regulatory & Financial Framework – Encouraging International Investment
  • Logistics & Trade

A Pre-conference Reception and Networking Event is planned for Saturday 24 November at the Address Dubai Marina, where delegates can enjoy the spectacular surroundings and view. With Dubai being a hub for local and international companies in the region operating in Iraq, the conference attracts suppliers, investors, producers and buyers from Iraq, the UK and the wider international business community.

IBBC will also be holding a Tech Forum on 25 November, which will run in parallel to the conference at the same venue. Ticket holders will get complimentary access to the forum, where some of the key innovators of Tech in Iraq will be speaking on Fintech, the Consumer Economy, E-Government and the Start-Up Economy. Speakers include representatives from EY, Citi Bank, Restrata Group, MediaWorld, Khudairi Group, Avaya and the Technology Department of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

For any queries please email London@webuildiraq.org

Source: Iraq News

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The Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies has just published a new report by Ali Al-Mawlawi on reform of public financial management in Iraq:

Designing a Successful Approach to Public Financial Management Reform in Iraq

The path to recovery and reconstruction in post-conflict Iraq is fraught with pitfalls.

The new government will need to tread carefully if it is to maintain macroeconomic stability and fiscal discipline, while trying to address the urgent needs of citizens through improved service delivery, job creation and protecting security gains.

As a result, there is little doubt that the government will be forced to expand public spending on essential services, re-open the public sector job market to absorb rising unemployment, and continue to invest in the security sector to ensure that the Iraqi Security Forces are adequately trained and equipped to counter the resurgent threat of terrorism.

Indeed, these necessities will likely be reflected in the 2019 federal budget. The initial draft of the budget that was submitted to cabinet reveals a 23% rise in total spending compared to 2018, while total government revenues are projected to increase by 16% at approximately $90 billion.

The number of budgeted public sector employees will also expand by 46,000 people. Given the higher than expected rise in oil prices, it seems that austerity measures will be relaxed to some extent.

Iraq will likely end this year on a budget surplus. The country is now generating nearly $8 billion in oil revenues each month, compared to just over $2 billion in January 2016. According to Ministry of Finance data, a budget surplus of $12.6 billion was achieved by the end of July 2018 and if current trends continue, the surplus could exceed $24 billion by the end of the year

Please click here to download the full report.

(Source: Al-Bayan Center)

Source: Iraq News

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