Ex Central Bank Chief Accuses Govt

By John Lee.

Sinan al-Shabibi (pictured), the former head Iraq's Central Bank who was removed for suspected mismanagement and currency manipulation, has dismissed the charges against him as baseless and trumped up.

Speaking to AFP, he said authorities had compromised the bank's independence to access its reserves, adding that the government had been "spoiled" by a stable exchange rate for several years.

He said a warrant for his arrest had blown relatively minor foreign exchange fluctuations out of proportion.

While diplomats and analysts have interpreted the move as a power grab by Nouri al-Maliki, the premier's office has reportedly nsisted it was not behind the moves.

Speaking from Geneva, Shabibi said:

"Since 2009, they wanted to fire me, and they wanted money from the reserves ... I think the main problem... is basically the reserves, because they thought we have a lot of reserves, and they want to use it for financing ... The government wanted some money from the central bank... Of course, the law does not allow that, the central bank law.

"And of course, they say that there are differences in exchange rate policy. I don't think these differences require firing the central bank governor."

Asked if the warrants for him and other officials affected the bank's independence, Shabibi replied: "I'm sure, yes."

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