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 Friday, January 27, 2006

US AUDITOR'S REPORT: BILLIONS US$ Misused and Lost in Rebuilding IRAQ

  Read here original article by Tim Reid in Times Online

AN AUDIT of US reconstruction spending in Iraq has uncovered spectacular misuse of tens of millions of dollars in cash, including:

  • bundles of money stashed in filing cabinets,

  • a US soldier who gambled away thousands and stacks of newly minted notes distributed without receipts.

    The audit, released yesterday by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, describes a country in the months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein awash with dollars, and a Wild West atmosphere where even multimillion-dollar contracts were paid for in cash.

    Nearly $9 billion (£5 billion) of Iraq’s oil revenue disbursed by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which governed Iraq until mid-2004, cannot be accounted for.

    The huge sums in cash were paid out with little or NO supervision, and often WITHOUT any paperwork, yesterday’s audit found.

    The US has so far spent $226 billion on the Iraq war.

    The CPA was allocated $38 billion in US and Iraqi funds, and spent $19.7 billion of UN-administered Iraqi oil money. problems with nearly 2,000 contracts worth $88.1 million..

    The report found:

  • A US soldier gambled away more than $40,000 while accompanying the Iraqi Olympic boxing team to the Philippines.

  • “one contracting officer kept approximately $2 million in cash in a safe in his office bathroom”,

  • “ a paying agent kept approximately $678,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker”.

  • A contract for $662,800 to refurbish the Hilla General Hospital was paid in full by a US official, even though the work was NOT finished. Instead of replacing a central lift, as demanded in the contract, workers only tinkered with the existing mechanism. Three months later the lift crashed, killing three Iraqis.

  • Cash was stolen during insurgent raids but NEVER reported, the audit found.

  • A contractor was paid $108,140 to refurbish completely the Hilla Olympic swimming pool. The contractor simply polished some of the pumps and piping to make it look as if new hardware had been installed. The pool has NEVER reopened.

  • More than 160 vehicles worth about $3.3 million could not be traced because there was NO proper documentation.

  • Another project, a $473,000 contract to install an internet service in Ramadi, was cancelled because officials could not oversee it. But the contractor had ALREADY been paid.

    In all, $12 billion in cash, weighing 363 tonnes, was flown into Iraq.

    On December 12, 2003, one single flight to Iraq contained $1.5 billion in cash, the largest single Federal Reserve payout in US history, according to Henry Waxman, the Democrat congressman who is investigated the funding.

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