According to experts, the hard-currency auction governed by the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) — the authority in charge of implementing monetary policy in the country — has ushered in the formation of financial groups, in which board members of Iraqi private banks are investing.
Every day since 2004, the CBI has held an auction through which hard currency is sold to banks, companies and traders in exchange for evidence of import and transaction receipts. The auctions aim to prevent market speculation and stabilize the exchange rate of Iraqi dinars to the US dollar. The CBI — which does not deal with individuals — sells $1 for 1,118 Iraqi dinars.
The exchange rate has been fluctuating following an arrest warrant issued against the former governor of the CBI, Sinan al-Shabibi, at the end of last year. During his term, Shabibi tightened the auctions as information leaked about smuggling money from Iraq to Iran to meet the latter’s needs for hard currency amid international sanctions.
As a way of dealing with the accusations, the CBI prohibited any bank or company with capital of less than $400,000 from taking part in the currency auction. Additionally, all participants had to submit their participations to the criminal division in the Ministry of Interior, the economic crime unit and the money-laundering division of the CBI for approval.