Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TBI: Trade Bribery of Iraq

BC -

TBI – Trade Bank of Iraq led by JPMorgan Chase and in a current contract with an Operating Consortium is the sole bank in Iraq that confirms irrevocable Letter of Credits (L/C) for local and international companies for the supplies and services of all government projects. The bank was set up by the one and only Mr. Ahmed Al Chalabi back in 2003 for which he has hand picked its senior staff in its entirety.

The list of current pending L/Cs at TBI surpasses all of those lengthy people lines at gas stations on our streets combined. Some pending L/Cs have been there for more than a year waiting for their turns for approval, or aren't they?!

A case study:

An Iraqi businessman Mr. Q. had paid more than USD 60000 in ‘cash gifts’ just so he could secure a purchase worth of roughly USD 7 million of some industrial equipments by a ministry. And after tedious and painful struggle to get the ministry approval for the TBI to open the L/C he had finally received this phone call:

TBI: Hello Mr. Q. how have you been and where are you now?

Q: Hi Abu (..) I am fine. How are you? I am in fact on a short trip to Asia.

TBI: inshallah you come back soon. I was going to talk to you bout your approved L/C from the ministry

Q: yes please. I swear we have been waiting a long time for that, which made us screw up all our commitments with the manufacturer.

TBI: well you see Mr. Q. the turn to your L/C is still another 6 months down the line

Q: impossible, this is absolutely catastrophic.

TBI: but Mr. Q. we can push it for you. Your total contract value is USD 7 Million and we know you must have at least netted 30% on this deal.

Q: No. I swear to you Abu (..) I am making very little I think I have even made a grave mistake. I had to pay so much money just to get it secured

TBI: Mr. Q. you know very well how things work now. The head of our department, my colleagues and I believe that you can pay us 10% of the total contract value so we can grant your L/C and have it forwarded to JPMorgan for approval.

Q: my dear Abu (..) until now I am making less than 6% on this deal, and I have no idea who else I still need to pay off. There is no way I can pay TBI this percentage.

TBI: what can I tell you Mr. Q, then your L/C will have to take its turn!!

15 minutes later and after much heated debate on a long distance call TBI agreed to USD 50000 pay off. A week later the L/C was passed to JPMorgan for approval!!

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