September 19, 2005

The money goes 'round and it comes out ... where?

At least US $1 billion is missing in Iraq, perhaps as much as US$ 2 billion. That money was intended to provide arms for the Iraqi army, but instead it's gone off abroad ... somewhere ... leaving the Iraqis to fight an insurgency with antiquated and knock-off weaponry. The losses occurred during the time that the US-appointed interim government led by Iyad Allawi was in office.

Most of the money was supposedly spent buying arms from Poland and Pakistan. The contracts were peculiar in four ways. According to [Iraqi Finance Minister Ali] Allawi, they were awarded without bidding, and were signed with a Baghdad-based company, and not directly with the foreign supplier. The money was paid up front, and, surprisingly for Iraq, it was paid at great speed out of the ministry's account with the Central Bank....

The Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit says in a report to the Iraqi government that US-appointed Iraqi officials in the defence ministry allegedly presided over these dubious transactions.

Senior Iraqi officials now say they cannot understand how, if this is so, the disappearance of almost all the military procurement budget could have passed unnoticed by the US military in Baghdad and civilian advisers working in the defence ministry.

Government officials in Baghdad even suggest that the skill with which the robbery was organised suggests that the Iraqis involved were only front men, and "rogue elements" within the US military or intelligence services may have played a decisive role behind the scenes.

Given that building up an Iraqi army to replace American and British troops is a priority for Washington and London, the failure to notice that so much money was being siphoned off at the very least argues a high degree of negligence on the part of US officials and officers in Baghdad.

The Iraqi government also reports huge losses from the electricity, transport, interior and other ministries during the same period of time.

The unexplained loss such large sums, apparently under the noses of US officials responsible for overseeing the finances and expenditures of the interim government, makes us feel real certain that Dubya's inspector-generals will make sure that all of the money spent on rebuilding the US Gulf Coast goes exactly where it's supposed to.

Via UK Independent.

Posted by Magpie at September 19, 2005 02:40 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |