Hazem Shaalan, former defense minister under Iyad Allawi, was sentenced in absentia on Thursday to seven years in prison on charges of corruption. The Iraqi Central Criminal Court also issued an order to seize Shaalan's assets.
The Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity issued accused Shaalan in October 2005 of misappropriating more that $1 billion of government funds earmarked for weapons purchases. Iraq's then finance minister, Ali Allawi, brought charges against Shaalan, reporting that the money had been embezzled in a racket involving 23 officials, including Shaalan.
Most of the money, which was meant to pay for weapon imports from Poland and Pakistan, "was taken out of the country in cash and disappeared," AFP quoted Allawi as saying.
Instead of modern weapons, Iraq got "museum pieces", he charged at the time.
As defense minister, Shaalan reportedly spent approximately $1.3 billion on military equipment, mostly purchased from intermediaries instead of legal suppliers, in violation of international law. The weapons proved to be out of date and inappropriate for their intended purpose.
Shaalan has denied all charges from his home in London, where he lived as a small business owner prior to the invasion of Iraq.