Sydney trio jailed over $1m Iraqi bribe

The two Elomar brothers were successful, well-respected immigrant businessmen whose Sydney company became adversely affected by “the stain on the family name”.


In a bid to reverse their fortunes the father and uncle of notorious ISIS recruit Mohamed Elomar handed over $1 million in cash to bribe an Iraqi public official in a bid to gain lucrative contract work.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday, Justice Christine Adamson jailed the late terrorist’s father Mamdouh Elomar, 63, his brother Ibrahim Elimar, 61, and businessman John Jousif, 48, for four years with a non-parole period of two years.

She also fined each brother $250,000, finding they knew it was both morally wrong and illegal to bribe an official, whether foreign or otherwise.

The Sydney trio pleaded guilty to conspiring with each other and with an Iraqi resident between July 2014 and February 2015 to pay a bribe to a foreign public official.

During 2013, Jousif approached the brothers about exploring Iraqi business opportunities for their company Lifese, which was involved in engineering, infrastructure and construction projects.

Their company was in “financial decay”, in part from losing deals after publicity about Mohamed Elomar and another relative jailed for terror-related offences.

At first, the Elomar brothers lawfully tried to become involved in projects but were soon told they would be blacklisted if payment was not made.

Numerous intercepted phone calls revealed that Jousif used various tactics to persuade the Elomars to transfer the money for the bribe, being “persistent” and showing “an almost daily commitment to the task”.

The judge also found the Elomars “were attracted by the glittering prizes of substantial infrastructure contracts in Iraq”, but could have walked away without transferring any money.

“They were seasoned, successful businessmen who calculated the risk and decided to transfer the money (to the Iraqi citizen).

“It was their greed which motivated them to do so.”

In early September 2014, more than $1 million in cash was provided to Jousif who transferred it to Iraq through a money exchange business in Auburn.

“Just as it could be said that Mr Jousif exploited the Elomars, they also used him.”

The Australian government had a ban on transferring funds to Iraq, but Jousif was the person at the money exchange business carrying a nylon sack containing over $1 million.

He was “understandably fearful” when told he had to produce certain documents after telling the assistant he had money to send to Iraq as a donation to help the Christians in the north.

The brothers ultimately did not receive any contract work and there was no evidence about what happened to the money after it was transferred to Iraq.

They had established Lifese in 1986, and over the years obtained significant government and private contracts in Australia and overseas.

“The company had a good reputation and worked on high-profile projects until its reputation was affected by the activities of Mamdouh’s family members,” the judge said.