The Retired Army Finance Organization
"Keeping the Finance Family Together"

Text Size:

Login Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Iraqi Currency Exchange (Hugh Tant)

159, 01 Sep 2010


Iraq Currency Exchange


Final report from Hugh TANT (15 January 2004)



The Iraqi Central Bank had a big victory today--a great win for the people of Iraq.  Today represents the culmination of a tremendous effort by a team of people who came selflessly from all walks of life. These quiet professionals hailed from Australia, Canada, Fiji, Great Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA.  All of one mind: to help the Coalition Provisional Authority achieve success in support of the Central Bank of Iraq and the Iraqi people.  The good counsel provided by the U.S. Treasury, the Bank of England, the Ministry of Finance and the superior leadership provided by Ambassador Bremer were all key ingredients that set the tone for high achievement and the unwavering expectation of mission accomplishment. 

My deputy, John Rooney, and the contractors, along with our information operations team led by Karen Triggs, made this operation a success.  Bearing Point, led by John Dulle, provided expert project management support and was on the job around the clock to ensure we successfully stayed on time, within scope, and on budget.  Global Risk Strategies provided us with Col. Phil Wilkinson, GBR, (Ret.) to lead the outstanding security and convoy teams, which conducted nearly 1000 convoy--often under fire.  On 30 November, the largest battle since the end of war announcement was directed against two of our 35-man convoys which were delivering and collecting currency at two banks in Samara.  A fierce battle ensued and many enemy were killed and a few of our team were wounded.  The 4th Infantry Division soldiers provided strong cover for our team to complete its currency mission while engaged in combat.

There is not enough room to write about all of the fantastic support we received from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 82d Airborne Division, the 1st Armored Division.  Also we appreciate the good help from the British Division, Polish and Spanish soldiers who contributed to the success of this mission for the Iraqi people.  The leaders of these Divisions were always willing to go the extra mile to help us never miss a beat.  I shall always hold in awe the incredible courage of the pilots and convoy teams who demonstrated their devotion to duty under high risk conditions.

I must say a huge thank you to Ambassador Bremer for his unwavering support and confidence --you gave us "Leadership That Works"!! 

The Central Bank of Iraq has now provided the Iraqi people with one currency instead of two. This new currency is continuously increasing in value (over 20% since the start of the exchange).  This currency is secure.  It has features built in that make it very difficult to counterfeit such as a watermark, metallic ink, raised lettering and numbering and very high quality paper.  The old Saddam print Dinar was printed on cheap paper and easily counterfeited. The new Dinar is convenient with six denominations instead of just two. The Saddam Dinar had a 250 note and a 10,000 note which was like having a 12 cent note and a 5 dollar bill.  Can you imagine how difficult it was to shop or make change?  Now there are six denominations ranging in equivalent value from about 5 cents to 17 dollars.  The currency is also significant in that it no longer portrays the evil one's countenance. 

The new notes reflect important cultural and historical figures like Hammurabi who wrote the first code of laws.  Read on below for the details and you can open the attachment of the new beautiful currency and associate the story with the actual new Dinar.

Notes on illustrations on banknotes:

Most illustrations featured on the six denominations of New Iraqi Dinar banknote are very familiar to Iraqis - they appeared on the Swiss Dinar, the currency in use in Iraq before the first Gulf War and the one currently used in the Kurdish area. 

The Central Bank of Iraq felt that re-using old illustrations that pre-date the Saddam Dinar was a positive step because '...those designs reflect Iraq's culture, history and contemporary life'.  The mix of illustrations reflects the harmony of the ancient and the modern.

The illustrations are differently colored than on the old notes, feature on different denomination notes - and of course the new notes incorporate many more security features than the old.

The illustrations on the 25000 Dinar note are new - the Bank decided the design concepts (Kurdish farmer, Hamurabi code). 

The new Iraqi Dinar is printed by De La Rue, the world's largest commercial security printers and papermakers. The 200 year-old British-based firm is involved in the production of over 150 national currencies and is a world leader in anti-counterfeit technology.  To note: they printed the Swiss Dinar. 

See color pictures of the new Dinar notes here, description of each note follows.

25,000 Dinar Note

Kurdish lady farmer holding sheaf of just-cut wheat.  Tractor in background. 

King Hammurabi.  Credited with writing the first code of law in human history he founded the First Dynasty of Babylon in 1700 BC, leading Babylonia into a period of great prosperity.



10,000 Dinar Note
Abu Ali Hasan Ibn al-Haitham (known as Alhazen to medieval scholars in the West), born Basra in 965 A.D.  His most important work - although he wrote some 200 books - is held to be a seven volume series on optics Kitab al-Manazir, in which he gives the first correct explanation of vision, showing that light is reflected from an object into the eye.  He is said to have 'invented' the camera obscura.   Also, an eminent physicist and mathematician he developed analytical geometry by establishing linkage between algebra and geometry.
Alhazen's work was translated into Latin, and greatly influenced European scientific thought. 

Hadba Minaret, at the Great Nurid Mosque, Mosul, built 1172 A.D by Nurridin Zangi, the then Turkish ruler.  The 59m-high minaret leans 8 feet off the perpendicular. That is how it earned its Arabic name Al-Hadba ('the humped').


5000 Dinar Note

Gully Ali Beg and its 800m waterfall. The 10km gully passes between Mount Kork and Mount Nwathnin, some 60km away from Shaqlawa, in the Kurdish area. 

The second century desert fortress of Al-Ukhether, Hejira. 


1000 Dinar Note

A gold Islamic Dinar coin, minted in Damascus in the first century AD. 

Al-Mustansirya University, Baghdad.  Built in the mid-thirteenth century it was the most prominent university in the Islamic world in the Middle Ages.


250 Dinar Note

The astrolabe. One of the earliest scientific instruments - able to measure the time of day or night and altitude and latitude – conceived by the Greeks it was further developed by medieval Arab astronomers, who used it to help determine the time for fasting during the month of Ramadan. 

The Spiral Minaret in Samara, built 848-849 A.D.  Samara was then the Abbasid Empire's capital city. 


50 Dinar Note

The grain silo at Basra. Working at full capacity the facility can off-load and process 60,000 tons of grain per hour.

Date palms..  Iraq used to be the world's largest producer and exporter of dates.  Over 600 varieties are grown in-country.

TEAMWORK THAT WORKS!  This is my final report.  Farewell and God bless to all.

Hugh B. Tant III

An ancient Islamic compass on a new Iraqi 250 dinar banknote replaces the smiling face on the old one of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), as new currency is unveiled during a press conference in the capital of Baghdad, October 4, 2003. Iraq (news - web sites) unveiled its new banknotes on Saturday, with pictures of an ancient Babylonian ruler and a 10th century mathematician in place of the smiling face of Saddam Hussein. REUTERS/Akram Saleh

IRAQI CURRENCY EXCHANGE (ICE):  RAFINO member BG Hugh B TANT III is in Iraq to oversee the conversion to a new currency (dinar) in Iraq.  The total exchange entails 2200 tons of new currency, 6+ Trillion of Iraqi Dinar in six denominations, worth appx $3B (US).  250+ sites throughout the country, including the Central Bank, the 2 state owned banks and the private banks, will be used for distribution.  This is a huge logistics and security challenge. We will then destroy over 3000 tons of old Iraqi Dinar.  Conversion will be done 15 Oct-15 Jan 2004. They will provide the treasury banks with additional new Dinar to cover the October government salaries (worth 286.6 billion Dinars) and the Jobs Program (worth 12.2 billion Dinars). This will be the first salaries paid with the new currency and will assist in their acceptance throughout the country.

29 Oct 2003 -- Hugh TANT, our correspondent in Iraq, reports that the ICE (Iraqi Currency Exchange) is still on target.  He reported further  as follows:

"Reports from the banks regarding the conversions are starting to flow in!  All the Iraqis I have spoken with say they really love the new currency.  Positive reports from the field indicate the same story: the great majority of the Iraqi citizens are very happy with the new Dinar—a single, stable, secure currency for all the people of Iraq.  

The following is a snapshot of where we stand with the new currency as of this date: 

Total new Dinar in Iraq:  4.26 Trillion (67% of 6.36 Trillion)

Dinar inventory at distribution hubs: 1.2 Trillion

Dinar amount issued to banks:  3.06 Trillion

New Dinar in circulation:  845 Billion (19% of 4.364 Trillion) 

Today (29 Oct 2003) Admiral David Oliver was honored with a farewell gathering of his team and our ambassadors.  We will all miss this man of action who has built a team of winners and passed on to all of us his indomitable spirit of selfless service to those in need.  We will strive to emulate his high standards as we continue to move this critical mission forward."

30 OCT 03 --To date we have destroyed 224 tons of a planned 225 tons of old currency.  To date our destruction is a mere 2.5% of the 9000 tons that we will destroy. To put this in perspective-we are bringing in twenty seven 747 plane loads of new Dinar or 2300 tons.  We are destroying nearly four times that amount.  Our capacity to verify and destroy will increase dramatically in the near future. With some luck and a lot of hard work we will be able to destroy some 6500 tons by January 15, 2004.  (You can see the big picture at "Finance Stories".)

3 NOV 03 --  Following are some light statistics that might provide some interesting tidbits about the magnitude of the ICE program: 
Total Tons of old currency -- Approximately 9000 tons
Number of bills in 9000 tons -- approximately 9,027,000,000 This number of bills laid end to end would stretch nearly 855,000 miles, wrap around the globe more than 34 times, or extend from the earth to the moon 3.6 times.  In other words, the ICE team needs to collect each month of the operation enough currency to reach to the moon or go around the world ten times. 


(if you wish to post a comment on this bulletin, please log in)

© 2018 - Retired Army Finance Organization