By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and SAMYA KULLAB
BAGHDAD (AP) — Auditors in Iraq have uncovered a massive scheme in which a network of businesses and officials embezzled some $2.5 billion from the country’s tax authority, despite layers of safeguards. The scandal poses an early test for Iraq’s new government, which was formed late last month after a prolonged political crisis. The prime minister has vowed to crack down on corruption, but few expect any senior officials or political leaders to be held accountable. The auditors’ report — obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by the Guardian — suggests the theft was orchestrated by a broad network of officials, civil servants and businessmen. Such individuals often have links to powerful political factions in Iraq’s deeply-rooted system of political patronage.