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23 Nov, 2019 19:00

Welfare fraud in Sweden by Iraqi MINISTER?! Reports claim foreign defense chief was getting child support & sick pay for YEARS

Welfare fraud in Sweden by Iraqi MINISTER?! Reports claim foreign defense chief was getting child support & sick pay for YEARS

Many high-ranking officials are pelted by corruption allegations, yet few (if any) have ever got accused of welfare fraud in another country. But if Swedish media is to be believed, Iraq’s serving defense minister is a suspect.

The scandalous story made the headlines in Sweden this weekend, after several news outlets reported that Iraqi Defense Minister, Najah al-Shammari, is also known as a Swedish citizen named Najah al-Adeli.

The man is said to have emigrated to Sweden in 2011, becoming a citizen in 2015, and is still registered as living in one of Stockholm’s suburbs. Both ‘al-Adeli’ and his wife had allegedly been receiving child and housing support for years, before getting reported for benefits fraud two weeks ago. A preliminary probe into the scheme has been launched both by the country’s police and welfare watchdog.

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Moreover, reports claim that the Iraqi suspect had allegedly been receiving sickness benefits for a period of time, as he claimed to have “memory problems” that prevented him from working – in Sweden, apparently. Apart from that, the man was charged with unspecified “serious crimes” in 2016. The case against him, however, was dropped, for reasons unknown, just a day before the trial. 

The minister is said to have been traveling to Sweden from time to time – allegedly to maintain the illusion he actually lives there, while his children were reportedly registered at a private school in Stockholm.

Al-Shammari has repeatedly faced the allegations of holding dual citizenship since assuming office, yet the Iraqi ruling coalition has flatly denied them. While it’s legal in Iraq to hold dual citizenship, top government officials must renounce citizenship of foreign countries upon assuming office, according to the country’s constitution.

Earlier this year, a picture of a passport purportedly held by ‘Najah al-Adeli’ surfaced online – and the man pictured indeed looks strikingly similar to al-Shammari.

On Friday, the explosive story was given some credence by Toni Eriksson, press secretary for Sweden’s defense minister Peter Hultqvist, who told broadcaster SVT that Iraq’s counterpart of his boss was, indeed, a Swedish citizen. Still, it remains unclear whether the minister will face any questions in Iraq after the revelation, given his long-standing stance of denial.

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