Iraq Business News has learned of claims that Iraq's anti-corruption bodies are investigating the contract to operate the duty-free shops at Baghdad and Basra airports.
Early last year we reported that the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) and the Ministry of Transport had extended Iraq Duty Free's exclusive contract at the airports by ten years to 4th March 2029; the company has been running the stores since 2004.
According to a report from Al-Ahad TV, the total duration of the contract, and fact that it was extended two years before it was due to expire, are in breach of Iraqi law.
It goes on to state that Iraq Duty Free’s parent company, Financial Links, is owned by UK-citizen Ahmed Sarchil Kazzaz, who has a conviction for fraud in the United States in relation to the payment of bribes to help win contracts in Iraq.
IBN reported that Kazzaz and his business, Leadstay, were charged in 2012; he subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and a substantial fine. This conviction would normally preclude contracting with any Iraqi government entity.
The report from Al-Ahad TV can be viewed here:
Iraq Duty Free has not yet responded to IBN's request to comment.
[On 21st May 2018 Iraq Duty Free responded as shown in the Comments section below; this is also carried as a separate article here. We would like to thank Iraq Duty Free for sending us their response.]
(Picture: Duty free, from asiandelight/Shutterstock)
Iraq Duty Free strongly refutes all such allegations regarding the contract renewal which have been aired on Al Ahad channel. The contract between Iraq Duty Free and Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority has passed through a number of legal and regulatory authorities before concluding it. It was approved by Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority and then further endorsed by Ministery of Transportation. So all allegations by Al Ahad channel regarding the contract renewal are baseless and these allegations are aimed to tarnish our reputation and business goodwill. What was published about us in Al Ahad Channel is flagrantly untrue, and we have requested the channel to show evidence and documents of what it has stated; or else the right of reply is assured for us by law.
As for what your website has reported about the Al Ahad Channel and what was published about our company, we would like to indicate to you and all observers that businesses in Iraq have been encountering many challenges and every day false accusations are being published here and there and the last of which is what was aired about us in Al Ahad Channel which is baseless and defamatory act targeted on a business which has employed hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis and is one of the major employers in Iraq. We not only bring a pleasant shopping experience to Iraq but also we bring world best brands for Iraqi travelers. As a responsible corporate citizen, Iraq Duty Free is regularly contributing its resources for the welfare of Iraqi people.
We inform you that our company has a contract of leasing Iraqi duty free shops, which was entered into with relevant parties under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation, and our company has not lagged behind in implementing the provisions prescribed in the contract, as it is an investment contract and cost us millions of dollars in order to develop and modernize the free duty shops, showrooms and some works related to Baghdad International Airport in terms of modernization, reconstruction and development, and there is no legal impediment to prevent renewing the contract even before its expiry; rather both contracted parties are entitled by law to do that with mutual consent.
Regarding what is said on website about the owner of company, we would like to tell you that the owner of company is an Iraqi National and not convicted of any crime of punishment that deprives the freedom in Iraq; furthermore, there is no text or law that prevents him from contracting inside Iraq, requesting your esteemed website kindly to investigate the facts before publication, as the bad information could commercially affect the company's reputation, especially that our company is of the leading companies in Iraq.
We would request Iraq Business News to not pick the defamatory news spread by Al Ahad channel. If Al Ahad Channel has any evidence or legal documents that confirm what is published about us, we request them to announce it before slandering it on media.