January 21, 2006
More Lurid Than Sex: Whither the Iraq Reconstruction Funds?
Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times takes a look at the fate of missing billions in Iraq reconstruction funding, much of which, it appears, was handed out in cash. Not knowing the on-the-ground actors, I cannot comment on the account, but the losses to corruption seem likely, given the nature of governments in general, the region, and the kind of knowledge (biased and absent) about the region by those who wanted to run the place.
Finding out what happened to Iraq's $37 billion in oil-financed reconstruction funds -- its stacks of plastic-wrapped hundred-dollar bills popping up all over the country like play money -- has taken investigators down many paths, including one to the Defense Ministry office of Ziyad al Qattan. Questions about what happened to the fund, once held by the United Nations and turned over to the Bush administration, are part of a broader story of how the United States has spent billions in American and Iraqi money after Saddam Hussein was ousted in April 2003.
Mr. Bowen's sleuths, and other auditors, found graft and incompetence, on both a small and large scale: • The CPA gave one ministry enough to pay 8,026 guards, but only 602 actually existed. Another agency received payroll money for 1,471 guards, but only 642 stood duty. • A CPA comptroller outside of Baghdad maintained a disbursement safe, but kept the key in an unsecured backpack and the disbursement officer often left the premises, leaving the safe open. • Halliburton, the giant oil services firm, received $1.6 billion in DFI money for fuel and oil field repairs. Pentagon auditors say it overcharged the government by $218 million. Perhaps the biggest DFI scandal unfolded in the CPA's South-Central Region headquarters in the city of Hillah. A cast of suspected thieves included U.S. military officers, a CPA field agent and a flamboyant American businessman, Philip H. Bloom, who owns businesses in Romania and lives in New Jersey.
Posted by Matthew Hogan at January 21, 2006 08:45 PM
Filed Under: Iraq War
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We should perhaps feel ashamed that despite its "more lurid than sex" title, this more serious post did not attract the rapid rash of comments that Dr Kapoor's phallus-fantasies did... ;)
Posted by: secretdubai at January 23, 2006 06:24 AM