On 29 June, the New Arab published Part 1 of a feature based on an OCCRP investigation and concerned with Nizar Hanna Nasri, who it says sits atop an empire spanning pharmaceuticals, liquor imports, and real estate developments – but that his success was built on a far less visible foundation: a globe-spanning trade in black-market cigarettes. It alleges that his facilities have fed billions of cigarettes into black markets from Cameroon to Moldova, and that OCCRP identified 4 counterfeit cigarette factories in Iraq linked to Nasri. Publicly, Nasri is a real estate tycoon, bankrolling shopping malls, residential complexes, and office high-rises in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil. It is said that industry sources estimate there are up to 6 illicit cigarette factories in operation in Iraq today, and these include 3 linked to the operation Nasri built. It is claimed that, to build his international network, Nasri struck alliances with a wide range of smugglers, criminals, and high-level politicians.
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