ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Central Bank governor Ali al-'Alaq announced on Monday that rainstorms, which hit the nation's capital in 2013, had damaged about seven billion IQDs, equivalent to approximately six million US dollars, that were stored within a government-owned bank.
"This rainwater entered the vault fo Rafidain Bank and spoiled paper notes," 'Alaq said during a parliamentary hearing. "The amount of money was not the previously stated ten billion [IQDs] but seven billion," referencing comments made by lawmakers in another recent session in which the losses were addressed.
Iraqi cities recently saw multiple instances of heavy rains flooding made worse by chronically inadequate infrastructure, including inefficient or poorly-maintained sewage systems. In late October, flooding from torrential rainfall submerged streets in the capital, with residents seen in photos up to knee-deep in water.
At the time when government banking officials claim the money was damaged due to the flood, the bank did not announce their losses. Water damage was later reported to have affected various denominations of the Iraqi currency.
"Rafidain Bank requests the replacement of these bills by the Central Bank," 'Alaq said on Monday, adding that the bank keeps documents to prove the validity of the notes that have been damaged.
He then stated that the Central Bank, in accordance with its instructions and regulations, "replaces spoiled banknotes when exposed to various accidents such as drowning, burning or anything else."
Former lawmaker and head of the Eradaa Movement Hanan al-Fatlawi posted on social media, "I hope that the Prime Minister will hold both the governor of the Central Bank and the director of the Rafidain Bank accountable for this negligence and that the issue will not pass..."
Before parliament, 'Alaq pointed out that the losses, upon replacement, would not actually be seven billion dinars, but only the cost of printing the bills, which amounts two to about four cents per note.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(An earlier version of this article said the spoilage of the banknotes came after recent rainfalls. This has since been changed to reflect ICB governor's statement that the incident took place in 2013)