Iraqi police storm Central Bank; arrest 36 officials

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By Sabah al-Khalidi

The Interior Ministry says its forces have stormed Central Bank building in Baghdad and arrested 36 officials on suspicion of corruption.

“A security force belonging to the ministry implemented an arrest warrant issued by the judicial council against a numerous officials of the Central Bank without any problem,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said the ministry is constitutionally under obligation to implement any arrest warrant it receives from the judicial system whether it relates to government officials or ordinary citizens.

The force had cordoned off the building before entering it and arresting the officials.

The building was besieged and the entrances to it blocked through the operation, it said.

The arrests come following a government decision to sack Central Bank Governor Sinan Shabibi on charges of corruption.

The cabinet, in a meeting later, appointed Abdulbasit Turki, to replace Shabibi.

The Commission of Integrity says it has evidence that Shabibi and other officials are involved in embezzlement particularly in operations through which the bank sells dollars to the public to withdraw liquidity in markets.

There is a special arrest warrant against Shabibi but he is reported to be outside the country and it is not clear whether he will return to face the charges.