Saddam Hussein was behind the world’s largest bank robbery, about $1 billion In March 2003, on several occasions beginning on March 18, the day before United States forces entered Baghdad, nearly US$1 billion was stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq. This is considered the largest bank heist in history. In March 2003, a hand-written note surfaced, signed by Saddam Hussein, ordering $920 million to be withdrawn and given to his son Qusay. Bank officials state that Qusay and another unidentified man oversaw the cash, boxes of $100 bills secured with stamped seal known as security money, being loaded into trucks and trailers during a five hour operation. Qusay was later killed by the U.S. military in a battle
As of at least March 28, 2011, the official web site of the CBI states “the primary objectives of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) are to ensure domestic price stability and to foster a stable competitive market-based financial system. The CBI shall also promote sustainable growth, employment and prosperity in Iraq”. The CBI web site further states that the functions of the CBI in addition to the primary objectives mentioned above include:
- To implement the monetary policy and the exchange rate policy for Iraq.
- To hold gold and manage the state reserves of gold.
- To issue and manage the Iraq currency.
- To establish, oversee, and promote a sound and efficient payment system.
- To issue licenses or permits to banks and to regulate and supervise banks as further specified by the Banking Law.
- To carry out any related ancillary tasks or transactions within the framework of Iraqi law.
- The objectives of the Central Bank of the Iraq are as follows:
- maintaining inflation stability
- implementing monetary policy (including exchange rate policies)
- managing the state’s reserves
- issuing and managing the Iraqi dinar
- regulating private banks.
As of December 2009, the bank reported total assets valued at over 57 trillion dinars. The bank’s head office is located in Baghdad with four branches in Basrah, Mosul, Sulaimaniyah and Erbil. However, currently the bank does not control the financial and administrative affairs of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah branches, as these branches are technically reporting to the headquarter in Baghdad and for all other issues they are reporting to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and they are financed by KRG.
As of July 2010 steps and measures have taken place in order to integrate these branches with the headquarter in Baghdad.
Foreign exchange reserves have increased to nearly US$67 billion (as of September 2012) due to a rise in oil revenues, indicating the improved ability since 2003 to deal with the repayement of foreign debt, the currency stabilization, and the coverage of average monthly imports.