Trade Bank of Iraq "Operating Normally"

According to a report from Reuters, the new president of the Trade Bank of Iraq said on Monday that the bank is operating normally and expansion plans are moving ahead, its new president said on Monday to allay fears of correspondent banks after its former chief fled amid allegations of financial irregularities.

To allay fears of correspondent banks after its former chief fled amid allegations of financial irregularities, Hamdiya al-Jaf, who was recently appointed chairwoman and president of the state-run bank, said TBI is operating independently and without political interference.

"At the beginning there was a fear among the correspondent international banks, or question marks for a short period, but ... we have proved to the world that the TBI has not changed concerning its work and its banking activities," Jaf told Reuters in an interview.

Former TBI president Hussein al-Uzri fled Iraq in early June after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a judicial inquiry into the bank when a committee that including officials from the anti-corruption commission and audit authority reported financial violations.

In a Reuters interview, Uzri said the allegations were fabricated and called himself a victim of a power grab by people close to Maliki.

While the bank is overseen by Iraq's cabinet, by law, Jaf said, it operates independently and is monitored by the Central Bank of Iraq and the Bureau of Supreme Audit like any other Iraqi bank.

"No political entity has any effect on the bank," Jaf said in her office in Baghdad's west-central Mansour district.

She said the investigation of alleged financial violations had not been completed.

Set up in 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, TBI has developed into one of Iraq's largest and most profitable financial institutions, involved in financing purchases for the food ration programme and securing private sector financing for power and other reconstruction projects.

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